General Information on IAPT Groups
Our groups provide information and teaching skills to help understand how our problems are maintained and how this can be changed. All of our group sessions have a particular theme, although other problems are discussed in each of the groups.
The key skills taught within the groups are based mainly on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy. This type of therapy helps people to identify and change unhelpful behaviours and unhelpful ways of thinking that might be making their mood worse.
Most of the groups also include other strategies such as relaxation practice to address physical symptoms of depression and anxiety, and mindfulness practice to increase awareness of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that have become ‘habit’. Other skills covered include distraction, self-soothing, problem solving and motivational exercises.
Each session runs for approximately 2 hours, including a comfort break midway through. Questionnaires will be completed at each session to see if there are any changes in levels of depression.
Each session includes a mixture of information giving, group discussion, small group exercises and skills practice. These are designed to be educational and skills focussed, and is not ‘group therapy’ or a forum for addressing individual personal problems (although these will of course be the focus of skills practice).
Group members will be expected to complete ‘homework’ between every session in order to practice skills taught in their own lives; homework will be reviewed as part of every session. Usually people that complete homework get better faster!
The overall aim is to enable group members to develop a clear understanding of their problems and learn positive strategies to overcome them.
Each group session usually takes a maximum of 15 group members, of mixed gender.
If you are interested in meeting others experiencing similar difficulties to you, learning new ways to understand and manage problems as well as trying something slightly new, please ask more at your initial consultation with us. All groups are facilitated by trained therapists and cover the same content as 1:1 sessions.
What will be required of me?
- To be open to learning new skills to manage your mood more effectively, and to take responsibility for making positive changes.
- To have a go at managing your symptoms a bit differently by using the strategies that are taught within the sessions, even if this seems difficult.
- To share your experience of trying out these skills if you feel able to do so in the group.
- To commit as best you can to attending all the sessions, and to working on the skills between sessions.
- To look after your own wellbeing and safety, and to actively seek support from IAPT staff (or your GP between sessions) if you are struggling.
- To be respectful to other members of the group who are attending and abide by the group rules agreed in session one
NB. If one person’s behaviour is considered to have a negative impact on the other group members then the facilitators may ask that person to stop attending sessions.
What happens after the group sessions?
- Those group members that complete all the sessions will be offered a review four Sessions later to discuss their progress. Some groups manage this differently, but the course facilitators will explain all you need to do at the very start of your course.
- Most people will be discharged at this stage, however, if a need for further support is identified (e.g. self-help material, therapy books, community support groups, etc.) then this can be discussed during the review.
Who runs the groups?
These are run by therapists and psychological wellbeing practitioners working within the IAPT Service.
Groups via Zoom
We are running a variety of group sessions over the video-conferencing platform Zoom, which is really easy to use. These currently include: Stress Matters, Acceptance and Commitment Based Therapy (for people with long term physical health conditions), Psychological skills and mindfulness. Feedback so far from virtual group session shows that our clients found them easier to participate in than a face to face group setting and really benefitted from the experience of those attending the groups, as well as from the facilitator. Further groups are coming soon.