This therapy group’s goal is to increase self-esteem as it relates to your identity as a gay male. In it, we address the childhood and societal wounds that can contribute to suppressing vital parts of your true sexuality. The intent of the group therapy is to provide a safe, supportive atmosphere where gay men can begin to heal conflicts and issues dealing with their parents, their family, sexual abuse (both overt and covert), addictions (substance and behavioral), and other trauma that can contribute to internalized homophobia and sexual shame.
This group is appropriate for any gay man who:
- Feels frustrated by problems with intimacy and relationships.
- Is depressed and anxious because of sexual shame.
- Has experienced overt or covert sexual abuse.
- Feels driven or compelled to have sex with new partners.
- Wants to increase his self-esteem and confidence in being a gay man.
Some gay men come to group because they have never felt comfortable dealing with groups, other gay men or groups of gay men. They may want to feel more comfortable being gay or socializing with groups of gay men. Others are comfortable with being gay but want feedback on problems they are dealing with.
How Can Portland Area Gay Group Therapy Benefit You?
Many people find group therapy to be like joining a healthy family. One that is thoughtful, caring, encourages you to open up, supports you, challenges you and helps you grow. When conflicts develop, as they do in any family, there is an opportunity to respond differently and work through these problems in a constructive way.
Group therapy is also the perfect place to learn how you come across to others. When you join the group, members will give you their first impressions of you. It is helpful to see the differences between how you perceive yourself and how others react to you initially and over time. You can also get feedback and new perspectives on how you think about things, your attitude about yourself and how you conduct yourself.
In group you can begin to see how similar your experiences are to those of the other group members. This can help heal the feelings of isolation created by dwelling on the differences between yourself and others.
If you want to make some changes, group is a safe place to practice new ways of expressing and thinking about yourself. Group members can give you feedback on how they view your problem or how they might solve it, and can challenge any self-defeating behaviors.
Through group therapy, gay men can learn to express their vulnerability and tender feelings as well as their differing opinions and negative feelings. Sometimes learning not to express a part of your identity — being gay — can make it difficult to express your feelings in other areas.
Making yourself vulnerable to the group with feelings of sadness, loneliness, anger or voicing differing opinions can initially be difficult, but ultimately is rewarding. By opening up, you will find that you don’t have to feel alone with your problems — others often have similar feelings or experiences. Group members can also help each other to be more calm, positive and confident. And, it is possible to resolve your own issues by helping someone with similar problems.
Group therapy can also be an invaluable companion to individual therapy.
What Can I Talk About In Group Therapy?
We all face many transitions and challenges in our daily lives — dating, shifts in relationships, prejudice, career setbacks or opportunities, coming out, struggling with bad habits, family problems, procrastination — and group is a good place to get support around these things.
Group members help each other to work through anxiety, depression, and loneliness as well as a wide variety of self-image issues including:
- meeting and dating appropriate men
- combining sex and intimacy
- building community
- dealing with the straight world
- expressing vulnerability and tenderness
- quieting the harsh inner critic
- handling HIV issues
- increasing self-esteem and confidence in being a gay man
You won’t be surprised to hear that we talk a lot about dating. We talk about where to find available guys, how to sort through potential partners, getting feedback on dates, learning not to personalize rejection, knowing when to have sex, getting support for staying away from inappropriate guys and looking at blocks to closeness. The group can also help you find balance between time spent with friends and hobbies and time pursuing a mate.
When you are having problems in your relationship, the group can be a helpful sounding board. We talk with each other about how to prevent negativity from getting out of control, and how to communicate with your partner about difficult issues without blaming, criticizing or putting your partner down. The group can help you to learn more about yourself when partners trigger old childhood issues in you. Some guys talk about how they are not sure they want to be in a relationship. Others talk about the difficulties of being vulnerable with feelings and combining sex with intimacy.
We frequently talk about what makes a satisfying sex life. People discuss how comfortable they are having sex and how they feel about their bodies. Some guys talk about safe sex plans or concerns over anonymous or compulsive sex.
HIV has impacted all gay men. HIV-positive men get support from the group to develop coping skills to move forward. If you are positive and dating, there is always the question of when to talk about your status with your dates. HIV-negative men struggle with choices around testing, staying negative and dating guys who are positive. Everyone is learning to cope with feelings about having friends or partners who are HIV-positive or have AIDS and how this illness continues to effect our lives.
How Long Does Group Therapy Last?
When you join the group, we will get to know you as you reveal yourself over time — and it may take a few months for you to become familiar with us. While group therapy is not designed to be indefinite, it can take a significant commitment of time from you to really benefit from the intimate feedback you will receive.