Strength in Numbers: Being a Member in Group Consultation

February 04, 2012 9:46 AM | Anonymous
By Don Mack

A hallmark of owning a Private Psychotherapy Practice is isolation. Regardless of how many years we've been doing this work as Therapists, or even how well we're doing professionally, it can be tough to navigate the legal, ethical or personal questions that arise in each of us. When we connect with our clients about their concerns and questions, sometimes we're left feeling drained and uncertain about things we hear. We might also be unclear how to proceed with difficult therapy challenges. This is when a group consultation meeting can provide guidance and clarity.

I've been involved with a monthly Therapist consultation group for about eight years and it has consistently been a great source of clarity, knowledge, connection and validation for my clinical work. I began the group by inviting a few colleagues and posting an online invitation. Each participant came with their own clinical experiences, concerns and expectations for the group. Some Therapists that responded were a natural fit, others weren't.

As one might imagine with the varying personalities of Therapists and our differing clinical orientations, assembling a new work group met with some small challenges.

Since it was the first group I had organized, I was unsure what to look for when interviewing potential members. While most participants had an open approach regarding how the group would evolve over the first few months, others had a clear, commanding presence early on. One participant seemed to overshadow the collaborative intent that I had envisioned for the group, and eventually opted out. One thing that became clear for me was that bringing together a group of unique professionals with an intention of forming a strong, creative, trusted bond required commitment, patience and time.

During the first few meetings of the group we primarily discussed the desired structure and goals to be met. Our group agreed on a fairly loose structure, but there would be several key components that would take place in every session. We decided a two hour meeting was a good amount of time to tackle issues without being cumbersome in its longevity. The meeting begins with each member briefly "checking in", both personally and with psychotherapy practice concerns. While every session is unique, ongoing themes have emerged in each of our meetings. Common topics include insurance and paperwork questions, efficient marketing ideas, case presentation and designing our private practices to best match the clinician's ideal goals.

As time has gone on the group has evolved into a trusted entity which functions both as a professional network and has led to trusted friendships. Not surprisingly, as we learn about each member's therapeutic specialties, the relationships also have evolved into a consistent referral source. Being a member of a monthly therapy consultation group has had an immeasurably positive affect on both my therapy practice and my life. While admittedly I occasionally have had reservations about attending one of our meetings because of a full schedule or other obligations, I've never left one of our sessions feeling disappointed. I always end our meeting with some clearer insight, new clinical information or more focused motivation for my practice.

So if you're looking to add focus and inspiration to your therapy practice, consider joining a consultation group. You might also think about starting your own, with any specific focus you'd like. When I posted that invitation 8 years ago I knew that I wouldn't regret it.

Don Mack, LMFT is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Clinical Hypnotherapist. He specializes in working with people struggling with addictive behaviors, as well as assisting others in finding the motivation to express themselves creatively. With offices in both San Francisco & Berkeley he can be reached for consultation at or phone 415.820.9620.


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