Licensed Psychologist & Certified Group Psychotherapist
Dr. Sophia Aguirre, Ph.D. CGP, FAGPA
Offering Online Therapy in 30+ States: AZ, AK, AL, CO, DE, DC, GA, Fl, IL, KS, KY, MA, MD, ME, MO, MI, MN, NE, NJ, NV, NH, NC, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, TN, TX, UT, WI, WV, & VA
CURRENT GROUP OFFERINGS
Young Adults Psychotherapy Group (Online)
Supportive environment for high-functioning young adults (early 20s to mid 30s) to process their personal struggles and explore healthier ways of relating to others. The primary focus is on developing deeper insight about past relationship patterns so that members can establish healthier, more satisfying relationships in and outside of the group. Individuals experiencing depression, social anxiety, loneliness, relationship struggles, poor self-esteem/self-confidence, communication difficulties and trust issues can benefit from this group.
This group strives to be an inclusive space that is affirming of diverse identities; we welcome all cultural backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities.
$65 per session.
Latinx Psychotherapy Group (Online)
Facilitated from an anti-racist, decolonized framework that promotes resilience and healing for Latinx adults. Members will process their personal struggles and explore healthier ways of relating to others. Insight, self-awareness, and self-growth are facilitated as members share their struggles, provide support, exchange honest feedback, and practice more honest, authentic ways of relating with Latinx peers. In addition, we will discuss shared experiences of navigating intersectionality, microaggressions & discrimination, struggles with systemic racism and white supremacy culture.
This group strives to be an inclusive space that is affirming of diverse identities; we welcome all Latinx-identified adults of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.
$65 per session.
Process & Consultation Group for Latinx Therapists (Online)
For Latinx therapists (and therapists-in-training) interested in furthering their personal and professional growth through meaningful connection with peers. Utilize the group process to cultivate a deeper awareness of relational patterns and learn about group therapy dynamics from the role of both member and leader. The here-and-now is a central focus: all thoughts, feelings and associations to the process are explored. Members share personal struggles and professional challenges (including countertransference concerns), exchange honest feedback, and practice relating in more authentic and emotionally vulnerable manner. Group will be facilitated from a relational, interpersonal and Feminist orientation grounded within an anti-racist, decolonized framework that promotes resilience and the development of cultural humility.
This group strives to be an inclusive space that is affirming of diverse identities; we welcome self-identified Latinx therapists from all racial backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities.
$85 per session.
Process & Consultation Group for BIPOC/Latinx Therapists (Online)
Fridays 12-2pm EST
For BIPOC therapists (and therapists-in-training) interested in furthering their personal and professional growth through meaningful connection with peers. Utilize the group process to cultivate a deeper awareness of relational patterns and learn about group therapy dynamics from the role of both member and leader. The here-and-now is a central focus: all thoughts, feelings and associations to the process are explored. Members share personal struggles and professional challenges (including countertransference concerns), exchange honest feedback, and practice relating in more authentic and emotionally vulnerable manner. Group will be facilitated from a relational, interpersonal and Feminist orientation grounded within an anti-racist, decolonized framework that promotes resilience and the development of cultural humility.
This group strives to be an inclusive space that is affirming of diverse identities; we welcome self-identified BIPOC therapists from all racial & ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities.
$85 per session.
ABOUT GROUP THERAPY
You find yourself surrounded by unsatisfying or shallow relationships
You avoid confrontation or conflict in your life
Keep choosing partners that are unable or unwilling to meet your needs
You struggle to identify or express your needs to others
You avoid emotional intimacy and closeness in your relationships
You experience feeling chronically misunderstood by others
You tend to be seen externally by others as "having it all together," but internally you feel empty or lost
You have difficulties asking for help or struggle with depending on others
You find yourself feeling anxious about trusting others with your "real" self and guard your real thoughts and feelings
You feel confused about aspects of your identity (gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc)
You feel confused or frightened by your anger or the healthy expression of anger by others
You feel depressed, anxious, or unmotivated, and are struggling to make changes in your life
Group Therapy Might Be Right For You IF:
Why Group Is So Effective
The power of a group lies in that a group allows for the creation of a person's social microcosm, where the patterns of how you relate to people outside of group are recreated inside the group. Thus, while you speak about your struggles in individual psychotherapy, you live out your struggles in group therapy. Furthermore, there is a vast amount of research which shows that in many cases group psychotherapy is more effective that individual therapy, especially when interpersonal difficulties are a primary concern or when a person's alienation, isolation and lack of support exacerbates their symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Group therapy provides the unique opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, encouragement, and interpersonal feedback from other individuals in safe and confidential environment. During the group session, members are responsible for talking about what is currently troubling them. Discussion flows according to what members would like to talk about, and in general, there is not a specific theme or topic that the group is assigned discuss. Members are encouraged to give support and feedback to others, and to work with the reactions and responses that other members' contributions bring up for them. As individuals begin interacting freely with other group members, they usually re-experience or recreate some of the interpersonal difficulties that prompted them to seek therapy in the first place. Within the context of a safe, supportive therapeutic atmosphere, the group is able to point out these troublesome interpersonal patterns by providing honest feedback. Thus, the group provides members the opportunity to witness how their behavior impacts others and how, in turn, they are impacted by others. As individuals increase their self-awareness, develop new ways of relating to people, and learn to relate more authentically with others, they are then able to generalize those skills to "real world" outside of group.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM GROUP
The therapy groups that I run in my practice are “interpersonal process groups” where the common elements that bring members together are the desire for self-understanding and a shared commitment to strive towards authenticity. These groups are comprised of 5-8 individuals and meet on a weekly basis for approximately 90 minutes. The groups are varied in their composition, but all members are psychologically-minded and have had previous individual psychotherapy (or are currently in individual psychotherapy), thus they are prepared to do the more advanced psychological work of an interpersonal process group.
The first few sessions of a psychotherapy group usually focus on the establishment of trust. During this time, I will help the group members work towards establishing a level of trust that allows them to communicate openly and honestly. In a climate of trust, people feel free to care about and help each other. New members are often amazed at how much their contributions help other members. Group trust is enhanced when all members make a commitment to the group as evidenced by their consistent attendance and their attempts to engage authentically, genuinely, and openly with one another. I utilize a here and now process: focusing on what is happening in the group through an exploration of feelings, thoughts, and desires. By examining these elements, we can deepen our experience of intimacy and vulnerability. This ongoing process of exploration and connection facilitates deeper insight about your past relationship patterns so that you can establish healthier, more satisfying relationships in and outside of the group.
During the group meeting time, members are responsible for talking about what is troubling them. Discussion flows according to what members would like to talk about; as the group therapist, I do not generally assign topics for the group to discuss, though will share my observations of potential personal or group issues that could merit further exploration. Members are encouraged to give support and feedback to others, and to work with the reactions and responses that other members' contributions bring up for them. Group members and the group therapist may serve as models for effective communication, offer problem-solving strategies, and promote self-acceptance .
Unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties and distress in their lives. Sharing your thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment is an important part of group therapy and strongly affects how much you will be helped. The climate of trust provided by the group promotes an environment where members feel safe to share their struggles and work collaboratively to understand one another.
As individuals begin interacting freely with other group members, they usually re-experience or recreate some of the interpersonal difficulties that brought them to the group in the first place. Many of the reasons people seek help with personal issues usually stem from difficulties in their relationships with others. Within the context of a safe, supportive therapeutic atmosphere, the group is able to point out troublesome interpersonal patterns by providing feedback and support and offering alternatives, and in such a way that the difficulty becomes resolved. As individuals increase their self-awareness, develop new ways of relating to people, and learn new adaptive behaviors, they make progress towards their personal goals that brought them to the group.
A common reason that people struggle in their relationships is that they may consciously or unconsciously avoid disagreement, conflict or confrontations with others. However, if you are to have real closeness and honesty with others, then you will find that disagreement and conflict are natural outcomes of the process of understanding others. Group therapy offers you the experience of maintaining real connection with others not just despite disagreement or conflict, but through the experience of working through conflict in a healthy, appropriate manner. While it may seem counter-intuitive, it is the process of repairing ruptures in relationships that builds the sense of trust, closeness, and intimacy. Thus, with my guidance and support, my therapy groups will provide you a healing environment where you can learn to tolerate the discomforts of closeness and expand your capacity to experience the value of feelings of anger, frustration, resentment, sadness, disgust and fear. As we gently stretch and lean into these new and sometimes uncomfortable relational experiences, we begin to grow and develop the type of self-actualization we've been yearning for.
GROUP THERAPY FAQ
How effective is group therapy?
Group therapy has been proven effective in helping young adults deal with a broad range of issues from mild adjustment and developmental concerns to severe or chronic mental health concerns. It has been shown to be as effective as individual therapy, and for some issues, it can be even more effective than individual therapy.
How can group therapy be as effective as individual therapy?
Group therapy is typically just as effective as individual therapy for various reasons. First, most members identify with issues other members share and find they are helping themselves just by being present and processing the issues vicariously. Second, by listening, giving feedback, and engaging other group members about their concerns, you may also be practicing new ways of interacting. Third, group therapy offers the opportunity to get multiple perspectives and increased support from peers. Fourth, the group environment offers a safe a place to try out behaviors or new ways of being.
What kind of people join therapy groups?
For many of these difficulties and concerns, group is the most effective therapy method for resolving that concern. Most often people participate in group therapy because they are having difficulties in their relationships or have something in their lives that they are finding painful and difficult to handle.
Some examples of the types of personal issues that members bring to group are:
Discomfort in social situations
Lack of intimacy in relationships
Family of origin problems
Dissatisfaction with their friendships or romantic relationships
Poor self-esteem and lack of self confidence
What does a typical group session look like?
My psychotherapy groups are typically unstructured. There isn't a specific topic for each group session, but of some of the groups may be target to specific group of individuals (e.g., women, men, or graduate students, etc). I provide an opportunity for a brief check-in at the start of the group, but after this check-in, it is the group members’ responsibility to bring any issues to the group that they feel are important, and a primary focus of therapy in the group is on the interactions among group members. Members are encouraged to give support and feedback to others, and to work with the reactions and responses that other members' contributions bring up for them.
How does group psychotherapy differ from a self-help group?
The psychotherapy group is different from support and self-help groups in that it not only helps people cope with their problems, but also provides for change and growth. Support groups help people cope with difficult situa-tions at various times but are usually geared toward alleviating symptoms. Self-help groups usually focus on a particular shared symptom or situation and are usually not led by a trained therapist.
How does listening to other people’s problems helps me?
Group therapy is far more than the simple extension of individual treatment, with the group leader going from one person to the other in rapid succession. Just listening to another person's problem is rarely helpful to anyone, the listener or the person with the problem. Effective group therapy is more about the relationships that group members develop with each other in group and how these relationships trigger past relational patterns, both helpful and ineffective. Not only are group members able to identify their difficulties, they are able to identify their strengths and build on them. Far more important is the group becomes a vehicle for people to identify and deal with their own emotional blocks and limitations.
Do I need to receive individual therapy in addition to group therapy?
Sometimes group therapy is used as the main or only treatment approach. Sometimes it’s used along with individual therapy. Often people find that working simultaneously in both group and individual therapy stimulates growth in mutually complementary ways. Also, clients may see two different therapists for individual and group therapies.
What if I’m uncomfortable discussing my problems in front of others?
It’s not unusual to feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a group, but soon you begin to develop feelings of interest and trust. Most clients find that group therapy provides a great deal of relief because it allows them a chance to talk with others who are experiencing similar problems -- in a private, confidential setting. Most new members find that the group process quickly draws them in and they begin sharing in ways they had not expected. As the group therapist, I will help facilitate conversations and can help process whatever anxiety the group may be feeling.
Do I have to reveal all my deepest fears and feelings to the group?
No, you do not. You alone decide how much you want to share and no one can force you to reveal your secrets or feelings. Most group members tend to share more about themselves when they feel safe in the group. While I recognize that sharing can sometimes be uncomfortable, I also know that many members report getting more out of group when they decide to share more personal aspects of themselves. I encourage you to be aware of your pace for group involvement and to share when you feel comfortable doing so.
What kind of commitment do I need to make?
My groups are long-term, open-ended process groups. Each member commits to participate in the group for a minimum of 10 sessions. This agreement assures that the group process will not be disrupted by new members dropping in for one or two sessions and then dropping out. This agreement also ensures that you will make enough of a commitment to benefit from the group.