Groups, Families and Couples: face-to-face or via Skype
I offer opportunities to work as a coupleº or in small, safe groups of up to four people at a time (or more at your own venue or via SKYPE) in a comfortable, informal setting, or Online. Group, family and couples therapeutic work has particular benefits to participants as it provides opportunities to develop personal authenticity in our relationship with others. The work can also include specific skills and awareness development; information sharing, meditation and relaxation, grounding and affirmation practices; in a non-threatening space in which to experiment and practice new skills; a place to offer and receive support from people with whom you may share similar experiences and concerns.
“Love is possible only if two persons communicate with each other from the center of their existence […] Love, experienced thus, is a constant challenge; it is not a resting place, but a moving, growing, working together; even whether there is harmony or conflict, joy or sadness, is secondary to the fundamental fact that two people experience themselves from the essence of their existence, that they are one with each other by being one with themselves, rather than by fleeing from themselves. There is only one proof for the presence of love: the depth of the relationship, and the aliveness and strength in each person concerned; this is the fruit by which love is recognized.”~
Couples therapy can mean two partners working on their relationship, communication skills, empathy and understanding, or two family members, such as a parent and teenage child, who want to iron out difficulties or address issues from a shared history, for example. Couples can also be two friends who want to improve the quality of their friendship, address misunderstandings or other difficulties between them. Where only two people wish to take part in a thematic group (see below) couples fee rates apply.
“A rare find as a therapist. We needed to work out a few things and searched for quite a while with a few false starts with counsellors etc. Stephen was absolutely fantastic. Obviously very capable and professional. He made everything seem so clear and understandable and gave us the right amount of room to talk things through individually and together as a couple. We’ve now made some significant changes in our relationship thanks to the brilliant guidance of this therapist. Can’t recommend him enough.” ~Margaret (couples work)
As an experienced psychotherapist my role is to be an advocate for each participant, helping motivated individuals to express and meet their needs. I facilitate the couple or group’s interactions, monitor and maintain healthy boundaries, offer support, guidance, analysis, instruction, challenge or direction when required, and ensure that the environment remains respectful, safe and fair for each person involved. All groups are built upon agreed boundaries that protect participants’ needs for respect, dignity, privacy and confidentiality.
- Where couples are separated, estranged or conflicted I would suggest meeting individually for the introductory meeting.
- Where appropriate, some analysis, guidance, information and supportive materials are sent by email in between sessions.
“Those that fight don’t listen, those that listen don’t fight.”
Where to start
Normally each person would meet with me for an Introductory Meeting either individually or together, followed by individual assessment sessions to discuss individual needs, suitability, risk, vulnerabilities, confidentiality and boundaries. In the case of family work with children (14 and over), you could meet me in the first instance as a family to discuss your collective needs. However, an initial meeting for individuals can also be more appropriate, followed by individual adult assessments to understand individual needs within the family. There is no obligation to continue beyond the introductory meeting or assessment stages.
Thereafter groups, couples or families meet once per week. Family work can also be done by meeting every two, three or four weeks instead of weekly in either 60 or 90 minute sessions (subject to available space in my diary), to be determined by your budget and your collective needs. However, fees change according to frequency of attendance (see the Fees page for details) and anything less than one session every three weeks, whilst still beneficial, may have less impact than more frequent meetings that maintain interest and momentum and enable individuals to form new habits.
Individual Therapy Whilst Doing Group, Family or Couples Work
Individual support sessions are also available by request as supplementary support in between group or couples meetings. One-to-one therapy is also possible for individual members of a group, family or couple who wish to work on issues that might be inappropriate or insufficiently supported in the group, family or couples setting. This latter point assumes that group and individual therapy are done at separate times and that there are no conflicts of interest between individual and group or couples sessions.
Individual Psychotherapy with people who meet or know each other outside of sessions is generally avoided to prevent conflicts of interest. In some circumstances it may be possible, but requires very clear and much stricter boundaries that protect the work that each individual is attempting to do. This is due to the greater potential for secondary processes to emerge between multiple individuals, both inside and outside of sessions. If two patients are likely to speak of one another in separate therapy sessions, this can create a conflict of interest for the therapist. For example, one patient may disclose information to the therapist about another patient that the other patient may not want him to know. This may also adversely influence the therapist’s perpective on the other person. A frank and open discussion about this is essential before considering seeing the same therapist and the final decision rests with the therapist and whether he or she feels able to manage the situation without compromise to either party. Generally, unless working as a couple, group or family, patients who know each other would not see the same psychotherapist until one of them had completed their therapy.
Groups with Set Themes
Group and Family work can be done according to themes (see 12 week groups below) or without a set theme. If you are interested in participating in a group with a theme please fill out the form below (otherwise use the appointments page web form). Availability is dependent upon demand, with two participants being the minimum for thematic groups (couples rates apply) and three to four for families. These numbers can be increased by providing your own venue, subject to agreement and conditions.
- Fees are listed on the Fees page
- Supplementary support and individual therapy is possible between group sessions (see Fees page)
- Emotional awareness development, listening skills, meditation and relaxation are all possible within each session (on request)
- Themes in the undernoted 12 week groups can also be explored in individual and couples therapy
12 Week Thematic Groups
A group for the family to learn to work together in greater harmony and authenticity. This is a place to help family members learn to become more emotionally aware, to clarify their needs, communicate effectively, listen actively at deeper levels, better understand and respect one another’s perspective, and heal old wounds where possible. Restricted to four persons due to space, but for higher numbers, home or venue visits and SKYPE are also possible.
This group is for individuals who want to work through their emotions and thoughts after a relationship ends, either through break-up or bereavement. A place to find support in others, to share experiences, to grieve, to learn lessons, and find some healing where possible.
Relationships are a constant challenge for many of us. This group is about developing skills that can help us manage and maintain our relationships by clarifying and maintaining boundaries, communicating effectively, actively listening, identifying and avoiding toxic people, and other social skills that help us form new healthy relationships by initiating contact with new people. Work focusses on self-awareness, psycho-education and experiential learning.
The Courage to Be
This group offers the opportunity to engage in self-development work to build personal authenticity and integrity, self-awareness, self-esteem and self-confidence. It is about cultivating and living intentionally by one’s conscience and values in a world that makes this increasingly difficult for individuals who wish to maintain personal integrity.
The Bigger Picture
A group focussed on exploring one’s spiritual ideas, questions and needs with the aim of establishing daily practices that enhance one’s sense of perspective on life and death, morals and conscience, love and relationships. Meditation tuition, guided relaxation, open discussion.
The main focus of this group is learning how to actively listen to the other person. Many of us fail to listen to one another, competing to be understood, or avoiding intimacy by simply swapping stories. This group helps us listen at a deeper level in order to cultivate more meaningful ways of relating.
Non-violent communication is a means of interacting with others in ways that help us avoid conflict and reduces the risk of misunderstanding. It is focussed on clarifying personal responsibilities in our language, and on saying what we mean in a direct and inoffensive manner.
Depression recovery support group
Depression is one of the most prevalent problems in our society today. This group is designed to help sufferers begin to support one another, learn new skills, be heard and find our way through depressive periods. Meditation tuition, guided relaxation, simple yoga, and awareness development can be incorporated as required. The group is for people suffering from mild to moderate depression who are willing to engage with others. This group should be seen as a supplement to psychotherapy or medical support, not a replacement.
Still Here: overcoming isolation and reconnecting with others
As the title suggests, this group allows you to come together with others who have, for one reason or another, found themselves more isolated from people than they would like. It is a way to begin to re-connect with others, rebuild confidence, share experiences, overcome shyness or insecurities, and dust off our social skills. Experiential learning, guided relaxation and other practices are available in support of making it easier and more enjoyable to spend time with others.
This group is for people who find it difficult to maintain a stable sense of self, mood or anxiety from day to day. It combines a variety of methods of understanding, expressing and coping with anxiety and worry including open discussion, guided relaxation, emotion and body awareness, meditation, simple yoga, and sharing experiences with others who have similar concerns. It seeks to help individuals create a different way of relating to their own mind, body, others and the environment. A core project for the group is a self-support plan that will act as a metaphorical lighthouse to help keep us steady during those times we, emotionally, feel at sea.
Survivor’s group (single or mixed gender)
For people who have survived abusive, toxic or exploitative experiences and who feel able to engage with others without feeling too overwhelmed. Bullying, harassment, domestic violence, sexual, psychological and narcissistic abuse, and neglect are some of the experiences people might share in this group. The group can be single gender, or mixed gender in order to allow others to recognise that abuse affects everyone. Work can involve a wide range of awareness and skills development as required, and sharing experiences with others.
This group is designed to help individuals learn to become more aware of their emotions and needs and to communicate these clearly to others. These are essential skills for relating to ourselves and others, enabling us to know, express and meet our needs with greater awareness, honesty and clarity. Learning by guided awareness, practical exercises, open discussion.
Helpers and Carers Support Group
People who give their time and energies to serving the needs of others can typically ignore their own needs. This can sometimes result in exhaustion, isolation and burn-out. This group is an opportunity to explore your own needs and frustrations, express them, and find ways of meeting them in the company of others who share similar needs. It is also about sharing strategies and practices that can help us avoid over-investing ourselves and a state of burn-out from which it can be difficult to recover.
If you find yourself drifting through life with no real sense of purpose or aims, this group focusses on cultivating awareness, clarifying one’s values, and living more deliberately. It comprises group and individual awareness experiments, journal and workbook writing, discussion, and weekly tasks to turn your values into deliberate actions that can change your world.
If you would like to join a group you can add your name to the waiting list by using the form below and I’ll contact you when sufficient numbers are reached to make the group viable, or if a space comes up in an existing group.
You can also use this form if you have a group theme in mind that isn’t listed above.
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