Groups

*Disclaimer: This is a treatment group rather than a support group (in support groups members may attend and participate intermittently). You will be committing to the first four sessions.

What are ERP skills:

Exposure with Response Prevention (or ERP) involves two parts: the Exposure in ERP refers to exposing yourself to the thoughts, images, objects and situations that make you anxious, while the Response Prevention part of ERP refers to making a choice not to engage in your usual Safety Behaviors. The three Safety Behaviors are so called because they FEEL safe in the moment but they actually grow anxiety long-term. The three Safety Behaviors include: avoidance, reassurance-seeking, and compulsions. The reason to stop your Safety Behaviors is that they only create the illusion of safety—because no one can have guarantees regarding safety (nor anything else in life). Learning ERP is done under the guidance of a therapist at the beginning, until you gradually master your anxiety and become your own ERP therapist!  Right now your brain is still able to convince you that you are in danger a lot, even in situations where you “know” there is a very small likelihood that something bad will happen. The ERP will help you learn to treat all triggering thoughts the same way by purposefully exposing yourself to things that make you anxious while maintaining your commitment to NOT engage in your Safety Behaviors. Over time you will actually feel a drop in your anxiety level when you don’t engage in the Safety Behaviors. This natural drop in anxiety, when you stay “exposed” to anxiety-producing thoughts or situations and prevent your usual “response” of doing Safety Behaviors, is called habituation.

 

Group Format

 

Our Anxiety Groups are goal-based and didactic (teaching) in nature. This means that group members report on how they did with their goals for the week at the outset of group sessions, and make new goals during each session to work on for the coming week. During the didactic portion of the group, members learn all about anxiety disorders, the anxiety cycle, and principles that help them move toward anxiety instead of engaging in the avoidance that worsens it. There is also time to ask questions during group sessions, as well as discuss the many ways in which untreated anxiety robs individuals of their freedoms and self-worth.

Group Policy:

Our Virtual Anxiety Groups are not like traditional support groups wherein members can come and go as they please. Exposure therapy skills build on one another and group members set weekly goals to complete live and imaginal exposures between sessions. Our groups also offer the distinct benefit of peer support, which is absent from individual therapy.

 

To help create a safe atmosphere in the group wherein members can discuss the impact of anxiety on their lives, members are asked to commit to a minimum of four sessions before being added to the group roster. Group members are then assumed to be committed to attending weekly and will be billed for missed sessions, unless they have advised the Office Manager of withdrawal from the group or an upcoming absence at least 24 hours ahead of the next session. Members on our group roster will automatically receive an appointment reminder 24 hours in advance of each session that contains a video link to the group meeting.