When people come together in a group for any purpose there are a variety of unique personalities in the same room, so it is often that not all of them are able to come together and achieve the objective of the group session (s). However, an experienced group facilitator will create an empowering environment in which each individual has a voice and feels safe enough to express exactly what they think and feel. In the case of group therapy, facilitating the group is an even more complex task because the group is not talking about any focused subject or particular problem; furthermore the environment is FAR from what it is during group sessions in the corporate world.
In group therapy, if the right environment is successfully created, everyone in the room (except the facilitator) ends up sharing their most guarded fears and insecurities. Almost every person has unresolved and sensitive issues which may be related to their childhood; some examples are sexual or physical abuse at home, and bullying at school. In order to heal people who are internally wounded by such experiences, it is absolutely essential that they feel secure during the process of group therapy. Security is created by building trust. It's not easy to build an environment of trust, especially when it involves a group as opposed to creating trust between just two people, which is a reliably easier task.
To foster feelings of trust, it is vital to ensure confidentiality. The rule for confidentiality is pretty much like the famous line “what happens in Vegas places in Vegas”; whatever is discussed in the group has to stay within that group. The surety that confidentiality will be maintained (even after the group disassociates upon completion of the group therapy sessions) gives each individual in the group a sense of freedom. Once everyone feels liberated enough to speak within the group, each individual shares more than they ever imagined they did tell anyone about themselves, their circumstances and problems. Once everyone starts sharing, the next step for the facilitator is to create an awareness that everyone's feelings need to be respected.
The nature of some individuals' problems could be quite sensitive, and if anyone in the group were to respond harshly to such an individual, it will only serve to hinder the overall process of healing. For group therapy to be successful, it is important for the facilitator to create an awareness of respecting one another's vulnerabilities.
While both of these factors of confidentiality and mutual respect are fundamental for healing to take place through the process of group therapy, it is essential that the facilitator actively intervenes from time to time to ensure that every member feels accepted by the whole group. If the right environment is created, group therapy is likely to be a positive and healing experience for everyone involved.