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Woman Smiling
Woman Smiling

Frequently Asked Questions

 

GETTING STARTED

Contents


Where and when are the groups held?

When is the first meeting?

Is it necessary to be exactly on time?

How long do the groups run?

What kind of committment is required?


How do I get started and what is required to join a group?

What is the cost of the groups?


Are the groups covered by insurance? What Insurance do you take?

Is there any kind of Financial Aid?

Do I have to pay for missed sessions?

What if I must leave the group?


**A note about money

What about the holidays? 

Does the group follow a particular approach?

What are the goals of the group?

How Many people are in a group?

Are members encouraged to meet outside the group?


Do we always have to talk in the group?

How do I know the chemistry will be right for me in the group?

What should I wear?

Is it ok to bring food?

Are there changing rooms at the center? 

What is the space like where we meet?

Has anyone ever been asked to leave a group once it has begun? 

What is the difference between group therapy and a support group? 

What if it is difficult for me to open up in a group?

If someone is in group therapy, do they still need individual therapy? 


 

LOGISTICS


Where are the groups held?

All groups are held at the Princeton Group Support Center
88 Orchard Road, first floor
Skillman NJ 08558
(Next door to the Princeton Center for Yoga and Health)


 Directions

Route 206 to Orchard Road ( ½ mile north of Rocky Hill and Rt. 518 )
Head east on Orchard Road for less than a quarter of a mile. We are the first right turn after The Convateca Corporation on the right.


When and what time does the group meet?

We have many groups running at the center at any given time. Please see relevant flyer for your group, or e-mail us with your questions at info@princetongroupsupportcenter.com.
 

When is the first meeting?

Please see relevant flyer for your group, or e-mail us at info@princetongroupsupportcenter.com.


Is it necessary to be exactly on time?

We will have a very full agenda every session and we will start on time. When someone comes in late it disrupts the flow of the group (especially if we are beginning with mindfulness meditation or some other practice), and we lose time having to fill that member in on the conversation. It is also disrespectful to members who have made it a priority to be on time. It is every member's responsibility to plan for traffic, child care, and other things that might delay you. We can’t stress how important this is! If you come late and there is a meditation or exercise at the beginning of the group, the door will be locked so as not to disturb the other members, and you will be asked to wait until the meditation is complete and the door is opened. It is essential that everyone come at least five minutes earlier.


How long do the groups run?

The majority of our groups are ongoing with no set ending. This allows members to work at their own pace and to go as deeply into the work as they want or need to. Some groups, especially for teens and young adults, are short term and run anywhere from 12-24 weeks. In these groups, at the end of the program, the group or individual members may wish to continue working together. In this case, a long term group evolves out of the short term group. 

 

What kind of commitment is required?

In the open ended groups,  prospective members are coming with the intention of not only resolving particular symptoms, but of making more substantial changes in their lives. These groups form very strong bonds and incoming members are asked to make a long term commitment.  It is difficult for the group when a member leaves and a new member joins. Some have described this as "like losing a family member."

As an example, most members of our heart groups at Beth Israel in New York have been coming every week for more than ten years. As one member recently put it, "This group is my lifeline, it gives me the support and guidance I need to maintain a healthy lifestyle." Another member said, "I can talk about things here that I wouldn't dream of sharing anywhere else, not even with my wife or best friend."  With this in mind we ask everyone to make a minimum commitment of 90 days.

For short term groups, the length of the commitment is equal to the length of the program. Because the format in short term groups means members build each week on the information and techniques from the previous week, we can not add new members to this kind of group.  


GETTING STARTED
 

How do I get started and what is required to join a group

 In order for any group experience to be successful and to feel enjoyable and safe, two things are essential. First, there must be a full disclosure to each candidate about how the group functions and what is expected of them. Second, there must be a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities of the group leader. This ensures that everyone is clear and on the same page with respect to format, goals, expectations, and approach. Each candidate must be evaluated to assess whether they are appropriate for and in agreement with the goals and purposes of the group and are able to function and benefit from being in a group setting (as opposed to a different group or individual counseling). Knowing that everyone goes through this screening process ensures a feeling of safety in the group and a strong sense of common purpose and commitment. 

The selection of group members is as, or more, important than any part of the group development process. Members are selected on the basis of the following:

An individual must meet the minimal criteria for group participation as defined by the American Group Psychotherapy Association’s inclusion and exclusion criteria. 

  • An individual must have appropriate diagnosis or symptom profile for a particular groups focus. For example, the candidate has social anxiety symptoms if joining a social anxiety group.
     
  • The candidate must be deemed a good fit with other members. For example, a 35-year-old male client would not be selected for entry into an all-women’s group dealing with sexual abuse or an adolescent group dealing with ADHD issues. 
     
  • The candidate must be able to do minimal exercise.

For more information on cost of groups, insurance, and other important details, see our group packet and contract here.

 

FINANCES AND INSURANCE
 

What is the cost of the group?

For information on cost of groups, insurance, and other important details, see our group packet and contract here.

Are the groups covered by insurance? What Insurance do you take?

For information on cost of groups, insurance, and other important details, see our group packet and contract here.

Is there any kind of financial aid?

We appreciate that these have been difficult times for many of our clients. We keep our rates very low when compared to similar programs in the area (typically $100.00-$200.00 per session and very few accept insurance). Nevertheless, an additional reduction may be available for those who are suffering financial hardship.      

Do I have to pay for missed sessions?

THERE ARE NO REIMBURSEMENTS FOR MISSED SESSIONS FOR ANY REASON. As you will see when comparing program costs, The PGSC program is very cost-competitive. To the best of our knowledge, we know of no similar group in the area that charges less for a group, or offers mindfulness and other components together with group, and very few that accept insurance. So to make the program viable, all groups at PGSC use a "program/class" model. As with any class or workshop, seats are limited and you must reserve your space as early as possible. When you register, you are signing up for a monthly program which guarantees you 1 of only 6-8 spaces available for each group. If you are not able to make a class, it is impossible to fill your seat given the nature of the group process.                                                                                 

• In case of absence, please try to notify your group leader at least twenty-four hours in advance (they will give you their cell phone number when you join). If you can't reach your group leader, you can leave a message at our office at 908-431-5254 or you can text or email your therapist. It is essential that you use one of these methods to notify us so that we know you are not coming and that you are not in need of assistance. When a member is out due to a serious illness, other members may want to reach out to that person to offer emotional or even practical support.
 

What if I must leave the group?

We ask that you give us sixty days notice if you are planning to leave the group so that you and the group can process your leaving fully, and a new member can be prepared to join in your place. Most importantly, before joining one of our groups, we ask that you view this commitment realistically. It is an important and large commitment, so be as sure as possible that you can make it. When you leave a group, it is an event for you and the other members.

Group relationships are complex, intimate and significant. When you give us less than sixty days notice, you deprive yourself and the group of a valuable opportunity to deal with the many issues that are a part of termination, such as separation, consolidating progress that you've made, saying goodbye, and having a sense of completeness and closure. We can't express how important it is to process your leaving and to not just stop coming. If you do not give 60 days notice before leaving the group, we will charge you for the balance of that 60 days. If, for example, on January 15th you tell us you will be leaving on January 30th, you will be responsible for payment of January 15th through April 15th, with April's fee being prorated for 15 days.

**A note about money

Money is a serious issue for everyone. More arguments and bad feelings result around financial issues than any other. To avoid such problems we have done three things:

1- We try to be as fair with our pricing as possible. If you look at other groups in the area, we hope you will agree that we generally offer longer groups for less money, and we are one of the few group centers to accept insurance which adds a significant cost to operating the program. 

2- From the beginning, we are as clear as possible with each new member about our financial policies. 

3- We try to follow these policies without exception so that other members never feel someone else is getting special treatment or special rates. 

4- We know that some of our potential candidates may have experienced exceptional hardships. For those members who meet all other requirements for joining a group, financial assistance may be available on a case by case basis for up to three members in any given group. 

Of course, all financial arrangements will be kept confidential. 

What about the Holidays?

The program is closed on the following holidays:
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day,
New Years eve and New Years Day,
Thanksgiving Day
Memorial Day
July 4th

Groups will not meet on these holidays. Makeup days will be scheduled on another night as close to the issued session as possible. 

Groups will meet on all other holidays and all members will be charged as usual. If at any time there is only one member attending a group, that group will be canceled, and all members except the one person attending will be charged, and that charge will not be submittable to insurance.


HOW THE GROUP FUNCTIONS
 

Does the group follow a particular approach?

Yes, most Princeton Group Support Center groups combine four elements: cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal group support therapy, mindfulness training, and lifestyle modification. 
 

What are the goals of the group?

All groups have their own specific goals and share the following general goals:
    
1- To reduce, eliminate, or manage the symptoms of your particular diagnosis (anxiety, depression, anger management etc).

2- To learn techniques that help you reduce and manage feelings of anxiety and stress.

3- To make deep connections with others in similar circumstances by focusing on the feelings that connect us. The group is discouraged from making judgments, being critical, or giving advice to other participants. Active listening, empathy, and other communication skills are taught and encouraged.

4- To learn how to live more mindfully in the present moment, with greater awareness, acceptance and compassion.

5- To develop individualized sets of goals for the purpose of achieving the skills that will lead to a lasting sense of happiness. These may include exercise, nutritional, and stress management goals as well as successful goal planning, time management, and interpersonal communication skills.


How many people are in a group?

Group size varies from 5-9 members. New groups can start with as few as four members.

Are members encouraged to meet outside of the group?

Generally, we discourage meeting outside of the group for several reasons. The group must be a totally safe and special place where anything can be discussed openly and honestly. When members meet outside the group, cliques and even romantic involvements can sometimes develop among members. This almost always has a negative impact on the group space as well as the individuals involved.  After the group has met for a substantial amount of time and trust has been built, there may be exceptions made to this guideline. For example, if the whole group decides to have a holiday dinner together, this can facilitate the depth of the group relationships in a positive way.


Do we always have to talk in the group? 

Our goal is for you to get the most out of your group experience.  To accomplish this, we encourage you to be a full participant in the group process. This means being a good listener, discussing your feelings and thoughts in the group, and treating other members respectfully. However, everyone’s process is different, and everyone learns in their own way and in their own time. Therefore, it is up to you to go at your own pace. We will never force anyone to speak.

How do I know the chemistry will be right for me in the group

Part of doing such an elaborate intake process is to be as sure as possible that there is a good fit among members. However, this is never completely doable or even desirable. The purpose, after all, of being in a group is not to meet people who you will immediately like or be best friends with. On the contrary, it is in meeting people with different perspectives, interpersonal styles, and ways of coping that often provide the greatest opportunites to grow and learn about ourselves.


What should I wear?

While it’s not essential, try to wear comfortable clothes that you can do light stretching in.

Is it ok to bring food to the group?

No eating or drinking (except water) is permitted during the group. It becomes a distraction to other members.

Are there changing rooms at the center?

There is one bathroom large enough for changing but we ask you not to count on that being available for changing on a regular basis.

What is the space like where we meet?

We are housed in a beautiful, renovated farm house with many offices used by different professional groups, most, but not all, practicing some form of mental health. Sometimes we meet at the yoga studio adjacent to our building (The Princeton Center for Yoga and Health), but generally we meet in a quiet, comfortable room designed for individual counseling and group support therapy.

Has anyone ever been asked to leave a group once they have begun? 

In twenty years, and in over a thousand groups, very few people have ever been asked to leave a group. This is why our screening processes are somewhat rigorous.  However, sometimes it does happen that an individual acts in a way that can truly jeopardize the functioning or safety of the group, and so the following is a partial list of behaviors which we consider grounds for termination. 

1- Any physical or other type of violent behavior toward any group member or staff in or out of the group session (this has never happened in one of our groups). 

2- Any inappropriate behavior by a member which is deemed to be harmful to themselves or others.

3- Coming to a group intoxicated or high.

4- Delinquent payment of 90 or more days past due.*

*Termination does not reduce a members financial responsibility as detailed elsewhere in this document.  

What is the difference between group therapy and a support 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. The focus goes beyond alleviating symptoms to finding the underlying roots of one's problems and changing those for the better. 

Support groups, which are generally led by professionals, help people cope with difficult situations 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.

The PGSC model combines the benefits of a traditional support group with the focus on introspection and insight common to therapy groups. In addition, our groups include  mindfulness training, lifestyle management, and stress reduction components which have been shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions.

What if it is difficult for me to open up in a group? 

This is a common concern. Many people who have never tried group therapy before are frightened or intimidated by the idea. Sharing intimate information and details about one’s life and problems can be challenging enough to do with a single therapist. To do so with six other strangers can seem overwhelming. 

It’s not unusual to feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a group, but within a few sessions you will begin to develop feelings of interest and trust. Most participants find that PGSC groups provide a great deal of relief because they allow them a chance to talk with others who are experiencing similar problems in a private, confidential setting. Many people who have experienced group support therapy believe that working together with others is helpful, and they feel better by participating in this form of therapy. It is important to always remember that only you determine what you will talk about in the group. No one will ever force you to reveal more about yourself than you are willing to share.
 

If someone is in a group, do they also need individual therapy?

This depends on the individual. Typically, you will first  have individual one-on-one therapy, and then later join a group. However, recent studies have demonstrated that most diagnoses respond well to group therapy, and it may be used as the main or only treatment approach. It is also an ideal adjunct to do simultaneously with individual therapy because their formats and approaches are highly complimentary. If this is the case, it’s generally considered important for the two therapists to communicate with each other periodically for your benefit.