Attendance Issue In Therapy Group


My plan as of now is to continue to run the existing group until a specified ending date, and if I have to cancel additional meetings along the way, then so be it. As you said, I’ve done my best.

I haven’t decided about the future yet. In the past, the group has seen a resurgence after an extended break, so I could see that happening. However, I’m also giving serious thought to your suggestions as to how to get more committed people. I’ve started thinking that my recent attempts to do so have turned out like those paradoxes that Dr. Richards often talks about. In other words, the things I’ve been doing to get more people are actually causing me to have regular attendance problems.

We’ll see what happens. As of now, it looks like we’re definitely on for this week so who knows?


The last two weeks I’ve had 3 out of 7 people show up. Last week, the 3 of us just had an informal discussion lasting the entire meeting time. Today, we packed it in after 30 minutes. For today’s group, only 1 of the 4 absentees even bothered to notify me. I think I’m done with this, but I’ve made one last-ditch effort to contact everyone looking for answers.

Obviously, the writing is on the wall that this group may not be worth saving. That’s hard for me to deal with because I really don’t have anything else. I’ve long viewed this as a way of giving back and helping others in the same way I’ve been helped. I don’t know where else to go with that. My life is in sort of a holding pattern right now, and this group falling apart is not helping.


It is good to give back, to help. Seems you’ve been doing that.

You have a life, too, right? Your entire life is not defined by this group - nor by the success or perceived failure of it, right? There’s an outcome to all things. How we define that is a bit up to us.

What I see is that you say your life is in a holding pattern. I cannot tell if that is independent of this group or not. I would hope your feelings about yourself and your value and self-acceptance aren’t based on this group.

It’s tough anyway, I hear you. We all want better outcomes for the things we do. Don’t put all your chips on this one number and feel its an indication of your whole life. That would be ludicrous. Maybe this is a time of change, a time of moving on for yourself. Maybe this is an opportunity for you to focus on other things, for a now, for a while or for a longer longer while. Dunno.

Very talented people in all walks of life, and those normal people among us like me even, we all need time away from certain things to maybe come back energized and ready to go later. And just in my experience, I’ve always found change to be good in hindsight. Kind of terryfying in the moment, or thrilling, but with an amount of fear, but always good ultimately.


Let me clarify a few things…

When I say my life is in a holding pattern, I’m referring to the fact that over the past several years I’ve seen a number of positive things in my life fade away without anything really significant to take their place. This is not for lack of trying. I’m constantly looking for things to rejuvenate my life, but I struggle with this and right now I don’t have much going on at all.

In addition, my social outlets have grown smaller. The friends I used to do things with don’t seem very interested in any of the same things anymore, and the ones who are more fun have become harder to get together with. So when I’m down and crave human interaction to feel better, I don’t always have it. This doesn’t help with my self-esteem issues.

These days, I’m a lot more willing to try new things than before I did my SA therapy, but somehow things don’t work out as often as I’d like them to. When I find a good group to join, it ends up fading away quickly. I try to meet people for dating, but nobody’s interested. It feels like I’m regressing, and running the SA group was something that helped me deal with that.

I’m sure I could eventually find other ways to give back to others, but none would have the same personal connection. As in, “I struggled with this and got through it, now let me help you do the same.” That’s very unique. I will greatly miss it if I can’t do it anymore. And while I can go anywhere and meet new people, there’s something special about the people who come to an SA group that I will also miss.

One last thing before this becomes a novel. The true disappointment here is having no clear idea what happened. Not understanding, for example, how a person can go from gushing about how great my group is to – just a month later – vanishing without explanation. I think I could accept the group’s demise better if I understood why it didn’t work anymore. But I have no clue. And I may never.


I think we may never (know), as you say.

There are ups and downs in my social life, natural cycles I think. Changes, moves… leave friends behind (as is the case recently), take some time to find new friends and get in the swing of things. Moving back here, I’ve started to do some of the activities the group members do, often through meetup groups. They’re great - laugh club (which is free and amazingly well run by a small, awesome group of ladies), a dance meetup - also great and I don’t particularly like dancing EVER.

These groups haven’t yet given me the kinds of friends, “real friends”, but they give me a kind of social interaction which is also nice.

I’m trying to look at what I have access to right now rather than what I left behind. If I compare the two, I wouldn’t be happy. I left behind a group of solid best friends. But there’s reasons I did so. We certainly keep in touch.

Take some time off, I suggest. Keep in touch with your current group members. This doesn’t have to be over-bearing, but nice and polite. Do some activities for yourself. Do something even if you don’t feel like it because I think you need it, as I need it here. Try some different groups out. You’ll be at some point later which you may not expect, especially if you try some new things. Mostly we know where we’ll end up if we try nothing. …And when you’re in this new place, let’s see if you want to start a group up again, maybe even in a different way. Maybe you can become a one-on-one coach, or something different.

I don’t understand it myself because in my mind, there’s clear support, and my personal history, with using a certain thing and a certain way to overcome social anxiety. Now that I believe in this, I see it as the most direct route. I’m mostly not bothered with trying to find other creative ways which would take longer for most people. But people come in all stripes and even these posts here show people looking and searching for different ways to tackle this problem - life coaches, phone counseling, the list never ends. When you get to that point later, maybe you adjust how you’re reaching out to people in some way like this.

Just my thoughts, as always. I really don’t know more than you do. I do know it is very tough to help people with social anxiety. It’s like trying to run a program that encourages people to amputate their own limb to save the body. It’s a very “hard sell” even when the person knows it is the right way to go. As we progress towards putting the knife to the skin, we lose people. But we lose them before they ever see that there never was a knife. That’s what they imagined the whole time despite the information out there and the help we try to provide.

And to cut short my strange chapter additions, I’ll leave it there too… I hope we both have a great week!


Thanks as always for your insights. I’ve been trying to find new activities similar to what you describe, but it seems tougher than it should be. I do have two fun Meetup groups I attend roughly once a month, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. Nor does it take the place of true personal relationships. Like, if I find a concert I’d like to attend, I still don’t necessarily have anyone to call to join me. (My current friends would either frown on the idea altogether, or make such a fuss about the logistics of going that it would suck all the fun out of it.)

I’m constantly on the lookout for potential new experiences, and I’m also considering finding a life coach who could help me deal with certain issues that might be holding me back. I’m not really sure how to go about that either.

I know all too well how hard it can be to help others with SA, and yet as I’ve probably said, several years ago my group was thriving to the point where we had 10 people consistently and virutally nobody wanted to leave when it was over. What I’m experiencing now is such a radical shift that some part of me wonders if I’m part of the problem. But whatever.

One last irony for now. The guy I mentioned earlier, the one who seemed to randomly vanish, contacted me today. It seems he thought there was no meeting this past weekend. He got his dates confused, despite my reminder email two days before the meeting.


It is now my belief that in general, when stuff has the possibility of breaking down, it likely will - at some point. And organizations are made up of people, and people inherently can be lazy and drop the ball. So questions about why this or what caused this or why didn’t this company answer my questions or pick up the phone - it’s all nonsense and probably because Mr. Smith was asleep on the job, or some other random normal, real life reason.

I’m not saying this to be pessimistic. I tend to see the best in people and thing the right thing will work out. I’m rather an optimist which is eventually what got me to realize I had social anxiety because depression in itself never fully felt right. Of course I was depressed, but it was because of the anxiety, not that I had clinical depression. I digress…

So about your group member - there you go… the guy didn’t see the email. Boom! Why? You sent it! Kind of annoying and just not responsible really but that’s to be expected. No need to completely run yourself over the hot coals looking for reasons when the guy was just napping.

Yeah, I know what you mean though, you did have all those years of different experience and now… Well things have changed for some reason. And we haven’t really identified why. And we could talk about why. Just like Dr. Richards talks about early on in the therapy, maybe even session 1! How we tend to want to know why we have SA, and that’s all fine and dandy, but it won’t get us anywhere to effective solutions to get over it. There might not now be reason to overanalyze your group dymanic. Step away. Get a new perspective yourself on things. That might even help you see what you’re not seeing now, if that is even important.

Life coach - check out Yelp, I dunno. There are loads now. Shop around until you find one that feels right. Trust your gut. I think life coaches can be good - it’s like having someone to help you achieve goals. Who doesn’t need that?! To get over SA, I kind of get less happy when I see people discuss that here. They’re searching and paying way more than even the series, but oh well. It’s like they’re looking for a harder way to deal with an already hard problem. But as a motivator, a buddy/coach, cool. Go for it.

As for your friends who don’t like certain activities - yeah, I got different friend groups. I don’t expect them all to like the things I like. People who make a fuss all the time are just lame. People who don’t want to try new things can be lame. People who don’t want to sometimes say yes to what a friend proposes… lame…too bad, their loss. Concerts are great. Doesn’t meetup or other places have options for activity partners?

If you do go alone, stay open to talking to all those “strangers” around you. Be a part of the group no matter where you go, if you want to that day. Be alone when you want, be social when you want. I think the world opens up when we are open to being social.


You are right about things ending and the reasons not always being obvious. It’s happened to me in other groups long before this one. And you can only do so much to try to resurrect something before accepting that it’s time to move on. Still, it annoys me sometimes when I hear of other people who are in groups that have been around forever with no end in sight. What’s their secret?!

My friendships have changed lately, which is one reason I’m so eager to find new things. My closest friend seems to have lost his ambition to do much of anything. He has exactly one hobby that consumes all his time and if he does feel the urge to do anything fun, he does it with his wife. Hardly any need for friends at all anymore, it seems. It’s tough when we struggle to find friends in the first place, only to have to begin again when they drift from us.

The other friends I hang out with are more fun, but tough to schedule anything with. Always too overscheduled, perpetually broke, or there are logistical issues with the locations. I try to keep them in my life, but it’s tough.

I found out about a singles event this week. I’ll likely go. We’ll see how that goes. No crazy expectations, though. One of my favorite lessons from Dr. Richards.