Group Support Psychotherapy (GSP) Training


Group Support Psychotherapy is an innovative intervention developed by SEEK-GSP Initiative LTD; a University of Makere research-based programme. It presents a cost-effective method for alleviating depression in people living with HIV and/or  mental health disorders. It is culturally adapted and can be administered by trained lay health workers





Build group cohesion by welcoming all members, explaining the purpose of GSP, laying the ground rules for therapeutic process and electing group leadership. After the introductions – the group facilitator: This is a unique type of group that will work towards improving each member’s health through sharing experiences of each other (problems, attempted solutions and new ideas).

  • To improve the health and quality of life of you the members.
  • Self-introductions (counselor & group members).

The group facilitator explains that: Group Support Psychotherapy is an intervention where:

  • People can share personal life experiences with others in the group without fear of judgment.
  • People can listen to each other’s life experiences without judging them.
  • People can ask each other questions about their problem experiences in terms of beliefs, feelings and behaviors with the aim of helping them to generate alternatives.
  • People can clarify their objectives and decide on the best available ways to achieve them (change).
  • People can express thoughts and feelings and this sharing will bring them relief.
  • People can identify realistic ways of achieving other types of support including social, economic/material and medical.

The client may discover new connections and meanings of their experiences

  • Clients may discover their own thoughts and feelings by listening to their own words.
  • By asking questions, clients may help each other to fill in unexplored aspects of their experiences and promote new connections between parts of their stories.


To help group members broaden their knowledge about depression and its relationship with HIV/AIDS.

Today we are going to talk about two illnesses; depression and HIV. (Remember that there are misperceptions about triggers and treatment options for depression).

I am going to ask you some questions. Please give me your ideas on them: · What do you know about depression? · How can you know one has depression? · What causes depression? · How can depression be treated?

HIV and Facts about HIV   Group Facilitator: Now I am going to give some facts about HIV in terms of: v Cause: HIV disease is caused by a virus called: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Mode of infection: sex, from the mother to child, blood transfusion, skin piercing with infected instruments, contamination with body fluids of an infected person e.g. in accidents


To help group members learn to communicate with others about their own problems, to seek support and to receive feedback.

To help group members talk about oneself and one’s distressing problems in a safe environment.

  • To help group members receive and give feedback geared towards resolving the distressing problems. · To help group members generate coping skills/strategies for dealing with distressing problems in future.
  • Today we are going to share personal experiences.
  • It is always easier to talk about nice things of our experiences BUT it has been more useful for most people in groups like this to talk more about difficulties, problems, challenges. 17 Notes for the group facilitator
  • The group facilitator may write on the flip charts the feedback/support/ ideas contributed by other group members.
  • The group facilitator may read aloud the feedback contributed for each group member and help the group member to choose what may be useful for them


To learn how to manage depressive thinking and excessive worries (thinking too much)

  • To learn how to manage and prevent depressive thoughts.
  • To learn how to manage and prevent excessive worries.
  • To learn about negative ways of dealing with problems so that we can avoid them. I welcome all of you and I thank you for remembering this day, the time and venue.
  • This commitment shows that you all are very committed to working hard to change your life, and it will change.

Highlight the depressive thinking and excessive worries that group members demonstrated as they shared their personal problems/trauma stories.

Here  we are going to learn about various ways in which we can positively cope with depressive thoughts and feelings which we experience especially when we are going through stressful life events.

  • We are going to learn how to manage depressive thinking.
  • First, we must understand what depressive thinking is: Depressive thinking involves: Unrealistic negative thoughts about your situation, yourself and the future.
  • Second, we must learn about some types of depressive thinking so that we can learn to identify them.

But worry can become excessive. You might find yourself worrying about a problem all the time, so much that it disrupts other work or interfere with your sleep.


To help group members learn how to solve problems and how to cope with stigma at personal, family, and community level.

  • To learn how to solve problems
  • To learn how to cope with stigma.

Next, we are going to learn about how to solve problems which we experience especially when we are going through tough situations.

  1. Make a list of your major problems that you are worrying about
  2. Chose the most pressing problem for which you need urgent solutions
  3. Let group member’s brain storm on actions to help solve this pressing problem.
  4. Compare these actions, listing the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  5. Pick the best action
  6. Make an action plan- This action plan should spell out exactly what is going to be done in the next week. The plan should be specific, realistic and scheduled.

After carrying out your action plan, evaluate it. What was the result? What did I learn? 8. Move on. Use the experience you have gained to plan your next step. There are three options

  1. a) Keep going
  2. b) Revise your plan and try again
  3. c) Take a new approach. Perhaps you learned something useful from your first effort that suggests another way of handling the problem.

Keep working on this problem in a step by step manner. Keep track of your efforts. And keep reminding yourself about the progress you make.

Next, we are going to learn about various ways in which we can positively cope with stigma. Group facilitator explains that “stigma” refers to a process which involves the identification and labeling of human differences, linking labeled persons (such as those with mental illness and /or HIV/AIDS to negative stereotypes, and categorization to facilitate discrimination and unequal outcomes.


To help group members acquire basic livelihood skills that will enable them to identify income generating activities that will improve their livelihoods thus enabling them to take control of their lives. · To hold a discussions about the kind of life they group members want to live after their group sessions · To hold discussions about what group members could do together or in smaller groups in the future.

  • To illustrate basic livelihood skills

Review the previous assignment. Let group members report on their experience the previous week. Did they manage to meet as a group in the community? Let the group leaders summarize the benefits group members have obtained from this group support psychotherapy


To help group members demonstrate basic livelihood skills learned by allowing them to present their business ideas to the group facilitator and other group members.

  • To hold a discussions about various business ideas/IGA presented by group members.
  • To demonstrate basic livelihood skills learned.

Did they manage to meet and structure their IGA/ business project according to the guideline provided? Let group members present their business projects according to the format provided.

If different projects/IGA are presented, allow group members to give feedback to each other.

For example if group members were able to meet as a group or in smaller groups to further discuss their business project or IGA ,then this is a sign that members are active, are able to socialize ,have positive thinking, and also have energy to engage in community activities.

This is a sign that their depression symptoms have markedly reduced. Thank you all for the brilliant projects that you have shared with the rest of the group.

  • How did today’s session go for you? Does anyone have questions? Please ask and we shall all try to answer them.
  • I am impressed with all your business projects and wish you success in your efforts to make these projects a reality.
  • All good things must come to an end. Our group support therapy ends today. We must congratulate ourselves for completing all sessions.
  • Thank you all for the great work done over the past weeks.


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