Why’s everyone picking on group therapy?

Group therapy just can’t catch a break.

Here’s a video of animals from NYC’s Bronx Zoo with a group therapist working through the difficult feelings they’re having about the budget cuts New York City has proposed for its funding of the zoo:

In politics, a reference to group therapy seems like a pejorative for politicians getting together and feeling sorry for themselves, as in this posting maligning what he apparently views as a “touchy-feely” quality in former GOP Chairman Michael Steele’s new blog. Byard Duncan writes, “Steele’s first post, which is peppered with unnecessary commas and vague paeans to modern technology, reads sort of like group therapy session for the GOP.”

Earlier this month, Representative Tim Murphy (a bona-fide psychologist, it seems) referred to a budget talk between Republican congressional leaders and president Obama as “good group therapy,” apparently referencing the fact that even though no problems were resolved, everyone talked about his or her feelings.

On the sports front, there’s this mock group therapy scenario from the Bleacher Report where member schools from the NCAA’s troubled Big 12 Conference get together with a counselor to make fun of Iowa State and deliver such jewel’s as:

Nebraska: Hey, can you tell me how to cheat and get away with it? I’m getting kind of desperate over here.

Missouri: Me too. Dude, you know that I, like, hate you, but could you tell me how to cheat too?

Oklahoma State: Yo, homes, me too. I’ll pay cash money.

Just this week, the Village Voice noted that a rally to save H & H Bagels’ flagship store on NYC’s Upper West Side. Poking fun of the low turn out, the reporter write, “From the sounds of it, it more resembled a group therapy session [than a rally].”

What can we learn from this about group therapy?

Well for starters, it’s apparently the case that in the mind of reporters, politicians and… whoever wrote the football piece (“writer” seems generous), group therapy is a place where people get together to fight, whine, coddle (or be coddled), and feel sorry for themselves.

Ironically, you see surprisingly little mocking of individual therapy going on. It’s not unheard of, but relative to group therapy, hardly any. You wouldn’t expect much room to feel sorry for yourself in an individual psychotherapy session, would you? Or whining and complaining? Or picking fights? And yet many people expect such things when they think of group therapy.

I wonder where they got that idea?