ACON’s popular therapy groups have been launched for 2008, with intimacy groups kicking off the program.

Experienced counsellors and psychotherapists will facilitate the groups, allowing participants to explore their way of relating to others and themselves.

Groups in men and women’s intimacy will be held throughout the year, as well as groups in anger management, depression and anxiety.

ACON counsellor and group facilitator Curt Mason said the concept of group therapy was that, within the group, participants start to recreate the relationships and patterns of behaviour that have been occurring in their lives.

“It is quite a unique and powerful experience to have that happen, have other people observe that and communicate that to you, and to have that experience with a facilitator,” he said.

“Over the duration of the 12 weeks, we expect people to gain an understanding of how they react to people, see what obstacles get in the way of communicating and explore the alternatives.”

Group therapy is open to people of all genders, and those over the age of 21. According to ACON counsellors, the sessions suit those who can share space and time with 10 or more people, and those wishing to learn that skill.

On applying for a group, participants will be assessed and interviewed in order for ACON staff to answer questions and determine the correct group.

The group therapy program had proved remarkably successful, Mason said, particularly the intimacy groups.

“As a gay man myself, it is something personal to me,” he said.

“A lot of gay men don’t necessarily react intimately with one another in a way that is supportive or useful, other than it being sexual.

Counsellor Ann-Maree Rundle said that, although many women were adept at relating to others on a feeling level, a lot still found they needed extra assistance.

A former participant in the women’s intimacy group, who has asked not to be identified, said it was a “wholly valuable and remarkable experience”.

“It has changed my outlook, my relationship with myself and with my loved ones,” she said.

The groups work on a “gift for giving” donation, with those not working contributing an average of $5, those working part-time $20, and full-time $40.

For more information go to www.acon.org.au/health, then click on “counselling” and “therapeutic groups”. To apply for a group, contact Curt Mason or Ann-Marie Rundle on 9206 2000.

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