Newcomer to Therapy: How to Start, Groups vs Individual

I tend to be a private person and I have never gone to therapy. However, I am coming to the realization that I need help. What’s the best first step? I don’t know if I would be comfortable saying anything in a group support group setting.

In general, people are most comfortable beginning with an individual initial session (may be called consultation, evaluation, or assessment).  Once the issues are identified individually, the client/patient and the interviewing clinician can discuss a plan for further help.  Although group settings have much to offer that is different from individual therapy, someone who is new to therapy will often prefer to begin with a referral for individual work.

There are also various and different kinds of groups.  Some, for example, are peer support groups, such as 12-step groups or the recovery-related LCL Support Groups that we offer.  Because those are run by members rather than professionals, they usually follow a distinct structure; they offer a strong sense of “these people understand what I’m going through, and we’re all in it together.”  Among professionally conducted groups, some are didactic, something like classes, providing information or teaching therapeutic skills, while others are more interactive, in which the therapist’s primary role may be to help participants observe patterns in how they interact with others.  There are many other permutations for those who choose to enter a therapy or support group.

If you are a Massachusetts lawyer, judge, or law student (or family member of same), feel free to contact LCL to schedule an initial evaluation to review your needs and the potential kinds of referrals we can make.

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