Most people have trouble at the dissertation phase of the Ph.D. One study showed a 60% drop-out rate from all graduate programs.
Of those students who remain, it is the norm for them to become overwhelmed and despairing about the whole process. Often, the work grinds to a halt or to an excruciatingly slow pace, which fuels further guilt and demoralization about not finishing. It is a vicious cycle.
The Dissertation Support Group
The dissertation support group provides a confidential, nurturing, supportive environment in which it becomes safe again to work. The other group members, even though they may be in widely varied fields, help reconstitute one's cohort, which has often scattered by the time one is working on the dissertation.
We learn to focus on process rather than product and to avoid setting unreasonable deadlines. We learn, through behavioral contracting, to make demands on ourselves that can be fulfilled, thus breaking the cycle of guilt and freeing our creative energies.
When the process is under way, the product will take care of itself.
I like to have a thirty- minute meeting with each prospective group member to get to know him or her a little bit prior to the first group meeting. There is no charge for this initial meeting.
At the first group meeting members complete a group intake form which asks for some demographic information, some information as to where in the dissertation process they are, and some indication as to the nature of the problems they have been encountering. From this information I construct a group profile which is helpful in deteremining the focus of discussion for that and subsequent sessions.
The group operates in three-month cycles. If you decide to be part of the group, I ask that you make a commitment to come for an entire three-month cycle. This allows the group process to develop, making the supportive component its most effective.
At the end of that time you may venture forth on your own or sign on for another three months. That will also be a time when new members are welcomed into the group.
Group members are expected to attend each week. Once every six weeks you will be allowed to miss without being charged. Absences after that will be charged at the full rate, meaning that you
and not your insurance company will be billed.
The charge for each group session is billed to your health insurance company at the rate of $65 per session. Depending on your particular policy, this means that your out of pocket expense may be a small copay. You may pay this each time or my office will bill you monthly. You pay only the portion that insurance will not cover. Those without health insurance should inquire about special payment arrangements.