Opening Group® is our own interpersonal group work formula created in Laboratorium Psychoedukacji in 1978 and developed ever since. So far it has been attended by more than 12 000 people.
About Opening Group®
- it is an intensive group experience of interpersonal character, an opportunity to make contact with oneself, with others and a group;
- it is a chance to become aware, in an atmosphere of security and trust, how the reactions of other people influence our self-esteem and how we perceive ourselves;
- it is an opportunity to receive feedback regarding our own behavior (what and how we do, what are we striving for, what do we avoid) and its impact on other people’s attitudes towards us;
- it is a chance to recognize and understand our own style of making contact and creating a relationship with others and a group;
- it restores hope, a sense of will and responsibility; it facilitates reflection. Sometimes it becomes a first step towards a desirable change. It can also be a one-time experience or an introduction to self-developmental work.
What happens on Opening Group®?
The situation is open – the participants and two conducting psychotherapists sit in a circle and begin to talk. If they want to, they talk about themselves, why did they decide to come here and what are they looking for. As time goes on, a sense of trust and closeness builds up, the conversation becomes deeper, more personal topics are brought up. The psychotherapists who conduct the group encourage its attendees to comment upon what happens between them during sessions. This self-reflective aspect of work makes for the biggest value of the Opening Group®.
Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Trance running – a slow jog focused on heightening of concentration and body relaxation
Opening Groups® are recommended to everyone whose psychological condition enables them to participate in an emotionally and cognitively intense five-day group experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the origin of the name “Opening Group®”? Are the attendees obliged to open themselves up there?
The first Opening Groups® were organized in the late seventies in Stara Dąbrowa in Puszcza Kampinoska. The name referred to opening a way to work on oneself and not to obligatory opening up in front of others. Opening Group® creates the conditions for experiencing, studying, researching and getting to know our relationship with others and a group. However, the atmosphere of security, intimacy and trust in Opening Group® actually facilitates greater openness.
Is Opening Group® a form of psychotherapy?
Opening Group® is an intense group experience of interpersonal character. It was not designed to research unconscious internal conflicts as happens in psychodynamic psychotherapy. However, Opening Group® can help establish whether and what kind of psychotherapy would be advisable to people who are interested in it.
How does the Opening Group® run?
The situation is open – people sit around, take a look at each other, begin an ordinary conversation. Initial talk seems common: attendees speak about themselves and why did they come here. As the ambiance of trust and often great intimacy builds up, the conversation becomes deeper and more important topics are raised. The group conductors inspire the second level of exchange – they encourage attendees to speak about what happens in the present moment between them, the group and its conductors as well.
What kind of people attend the Opening Group® and why?
Some participants decide to attend Opening Group® because of various life difficulties – e.g. shyness, relationship crises, a sense of emptiness, lack of purpose, being stuck in their life, impossibility of self-fulfilment etc. Others want to learn something new about themselves. Opening Groups® are also attended by people whose work is largely focused on contact with others and who therefore want to improve their relationships with a view to professional development. These can be people referred by companies and public institutions – nurses, doctors, teachers, psychologists, directors, coaches, trainers, students.
Why is Opening Group® advised to people who experience difficulties in contact with others?
Opening Group® is a good opportunity to learn about our difficulties in contact with others, understand them and acquire new ways of coping with them. One can also try new behaviors in a safe surrounding, see how we fit in a role different than usual and receive feedback.
Can a shy person who has difficulties with speaking publicly about him/herself attend Opening Group®?
There are no expectations or demands regarding personal confessions, no tasks to be accomplished, imperatives or obligatory topics to be discussed. Among attendees there are people who speak about themselves a lot and do it easily and people who stay silent and mainly observe. Every participant decides for him/herself how much he/she wants to speak, when and what about.
What is the schedule?
Usually group sessions last from 10 am to 1:30 pm and from 4 pm to 6:30 pm with short breaks in the middle. There are also additional evening sessions on the first and penultimate day of the Opening Group® and both last 105 minutes. We also offer exercises for volunteers (although we encourage all attendees to participate in them). The so-called morning block consists of gymnastics – stretching exercises, meditation, i.e. wakefulness training and trance-running – a very specific kind of slow jogging focused on increasing concentration and relaxing the body. In the evenings we offer relaxation for volunteers.
Is there any particular method of choosing participants of Opening Group®? What is their age?
Opening Groups® are available to all people whose psychological condition enables them to participate in an intense (not only cognitively, but also emotionally) five-day group experience. So far, the youngest attendees were 17 (they participated after their parent’s approval) and the oldest were 86 years old.
Can I attend the Opening Group® with a spouse or a friend?
In each group there should be no people who know each other, especially if they are in a close relationship. It is also not advisable to have two closely related people in separate groups that are conducted in the same building at the same time.
What if I come across someone I know when I am already at the Opening Group®?
One should inform the group conductor about it as soon as possible – preferably before the first group session. Either two people who know each other conclude that their relationship will not interfere with their work in the same group or two parallel groups (if their relationship is not close or in any matter intense) or one of them decides to resign and attend the Opening Group® at a different time. So far though, such situations are extremely rare.
Why it is not enough to only participate in two or three days of the Opening Group®?
The Opening Group® is a complete experience over five days, each of which has its own structure and dynamics, from its beginning to the end. Joining Opening Group® in the middle or leaving before the end may severely decrease the benefits that can be drawn from this experience. This is why we consider a decision to participate in the Opening Group® as an agreement to participate in it in its entirety.
Can I drive to the group sessions each day from home?
A daily commute from home to the place where the Opening Group® is held would strongly impede the benefits that can be drawn from this experience. It would be a return to well-known habitual methods of coping with one’s everyday life. It would also interfere with the process of experiencing and learning something new. Since an attendee can experience various intense emotions during group sessions, it is advisable to try to understand them in the place where they happen and not distract them with an untimely return to our daily life. A kind of isolation and intensity of experience are an integral part of the Opening Group® formula.
Is Opening Group® good for everyone?
Opening Group® is too intense an experience for people who are actively addicted to psychoactive substances, who are in the middle of psychiatric treatment or experience a deep crisis. If you are not sure whether you should participate we suggest a consultation beforehand.