What is a Mastermind Group? (Hint: It’s Not a Therapy Group)

Every second person seems to be a coach these days. And many of them are running what they believe to be a mastermind group. What is a mastermind group? It’s not therapy, and I’ll tell you why.

Many people join and even launch different types of groups without ever asking the question, “What is a mastermind group?” So you end up finding gurus and coaches who say things like:
“Let me tell you what to do.”
“I know exactly how to solve your problems, just follow these steps.”
“Listen to me, and you will soon be problem free.”
Have you been hearing this a lot? This is the dialogue of a coach-heavy society. Everyone is a coach, everyone has the answers, everyone has it figured out.
If you think about it, it’s actually a bit fucked up. Many of these pseudo-coaches are looking for every opportunity to tell you how to fix your problems, yet rarely do they deliver any sort of demonstrable results.
Even worse, these people try to hijack or infiltrate masterminds to work out the kinks in their own coaching on unsuspecting members. This can derail any group, and turn it from a performance based growth mastermind to an informal, unmoderated, and unstructured therapy session.
(Disclaimer: There are a lot of GREAT coaches. I’m not belittling the entire profession. I just think a lot of people jump into coaching without any mastery of the craft or special ability for it.)
Let me be clear, and I will repeat this ad nauseum, there is nothing wrong with therapy. In fact. I encourage it for many. What is bad is informal therapy without a professional, or therapy groups masquerading as performance groups or masterminds.
True therapy requires a true professional. Dealing with trauma is not suited to part-time tinkering. If you need therapy, or are unsure (find out if you have coverage) and get in there. Worst case scenario you waste a little time, best case scenario it has a positive impact in your life, well worth the risk.
Therapy isn’t the goal or purpose of a mastermind. The goal is growth in your personal life and in your business. The purpose is to have a higher impact, cultivate better performance, and improve self-awareness.
Unfortunately, a lot of people are rushing into the mastermind space and not knowing the  or attend a mastermind end up creating pseudo-therapy situations.
Below are the three top reasons why a mastermind group should never be treated as a therapy group.

Expecting a Mastermind to Help You Heal From Trauma Will Only Lead to Disappointment

Emotional trauma shares many similarities to physical trauma. It involves a healing process with distinct stages along the recovery. The process of healing emotional trauma often begins in a therapy session, with the urge to “get better”. The individual might not know exactly what the problem is but they know that what they are doing isn’t working. Simply put, they are in pain and are seeking help to get better.
Beginning to unpack trauma and unweave the layers of pain can take a lifetime of work. This healing process is akin to surgery and requires a trained professional who knows what to do and when.
When an individual first begins to explore their trauma it can be an incredibly painful and stressful time. I do not recommended trying to treat yourself. While possible, it is much safer and efficient to do it under the watchful eyes of a professional.
When people join a mastermind looking to use it as a space to deal with their trauma, it usually fails on two fronts. First, the group will be unable to support or help the individual because the group is not prepared or trained to deal with such trauma and the individual will take advantage of the group who didn’t sign up to act in the capacity of untrained therapist.
Well-intentioned masterminds can become side-tracked by catharsis (or what is called catharsis but is basically just dumping all your issues on the group.) Letting go of that pain that you were holding onto can feel amazing, much like a huge weight coming off your chest. This practice of catharsis can be used properly at a specific place and time, but groups without trained therapists who tackle trauma often end up stuck in catharsis. The members keep hitting that catharsis button over and over without moving through the other stages of recovery.
Discussing struggles and pains inside a mastermind is inevitable, and I encourage it. You need ot know you can talk about anything with your mastermind brothers. But it shouldn’t be the only place you are doing it and it shouldn’t be the only thing you are doing. If your mastermind group gets stuck in catharsis, it means it’s failing.
A mastermind is built around using the gifts, perspectives and knowledge of the other individuals to help increase your own performance, impact and confidence. A well-planned and organized men’s mastermind is about solving personal and professional challenges, as you build a life around your true purpose.

Catharsis Isn’t the Same as Healing (It’s Only One Stage)

Catharsis for those who don’t know is “the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions.”
The discussion around catharsis and its use is beyond the scope of this article, but what is important to recognize is how easy it is to get caught up in the feeling of relief that catharsis can bring and mistake it for actual progress.
Don’t get me wrong, if you have never told someone about a trauma, an important first step is often to share that with a trusted individual. But that process needs to be done in a supervised setting with a therapist trained to help individual progress.
Without expert guidance, people often get addicted to the relief they feel about sharing their pain, they confuse this with a feeling of healing and remain stuck in a cycle of catharsis. It’s like scratching a wound to relieve an itch but in the end scratching it so often it never heals.
I’ve seen it dozens of times, but one example is Beau (not his real name). He was a typical hard-driving entrepreneur. He worked insanely hard, made plenty of money, then one day there was a regulatory change in his industry that caused him to lose most of his income. He had a lot of debt, and his business went up in smoke.
In search of support, he joined a pseudo-mastermind type group where members ostensibly about professional growth. But in the end it was mostly catharsis without ever making any concrete plans or steps. Beau had never experienced catharsis and the experience seemed like personal change to him. Beau would go to the meetings, dump his trauma, and feel rejuvenated from the pleasant cathartic rush.
Weeks, months, and eventually years went by with nothing actually changing in his life. This group wasn’t led by a professional therapist. So catharsis was as far as the healing went. And since the group never supported achieving goals, planning, or action-taking it didn’t make a difference for Beau externally either.
An expert therapist will support you through catharsis, but then he/she will also lead you through the next steps towards healing. They won’t let you get stuck in catharsis like Beau did.
And a mastermind group will know its own mandate and support you where it’s capable.

Part of Any Good Mastermind Must be Achieving Goals

A mastermind that has no structure towards achieving goals is a clear sign that the group will fail in its mission and will likely become accidental (and bad) therapy.
True masterminding is about harnessing the combined insight of the group (the Master Mind), which is far more powerful than any individual could be. The purpose of this is so that each member can benefit, not only internally but also in external impact.
The group as a whole is more powerful than the sum of its parts. When the group unknowingly or accidentally shifts to a group therapy session, the connection between group insights and the benefits derived from them is broken. This leaves the mastermind void of the greatest potential benefit it could provide.
An example of masterminding-gone-wrong happened with my friend, Don. He joined a mastermind group that became derailed by group-therapy style sessions.
Don initially joined the group with a clear goal of growing his business dramatically. Yet after three years in the group he hadn’t grown his business at all and spent the whole time doing pseudo-therapy.
Because of this he didn’t make any progress on his trauma, which stemmed from family issues as a child. Meanwhile, he made no progress on growing his business.
When Don left the group, he started focusing on his business and more than doubled it within two years. Then he hired an actual therapist and began making progress on his trauma, too.
All the time and ‘therapy’ of the pseudo-mastermind made no difference. It turned out to be a massive waste of time and money for Don.

Be Aware Of What You’re Signing Up For

The reason I’m sharing these stories and warning you is that I don’t want to see any more men end up like Beau or Don. Both of these men went into their pseudo-mastermind looking for something different than what was delivered. They didn’t even realize it.
I want you spend your two precious resources (time and money) to get actual results. Key to this is knowing the difference between therapy groups and masterminds. Only join the one that’s right for you.
If you do choose a therapy group, only do it with a licensed and qualified professional.
If you decide that a mastermind is the right fit for you, make sure it’s not a group therapy masquerading as a mastermind. Do this by asking to see the structure of the mastermind, the goals and purpose of the mastermind, and ask to speak to members who’ve been through it.
Any high-quality men’s mastermind will create tangible results for its members. I’ve seen hundreds of men benefit greatly from excellent masterminds, myself included.
Check out some of my other articles about masterminding:
How to Find a Mastermind Group (The Complete Guide)
5 Signs That It’s Time To Join a Men’s Mastermind
And, if you’re ready to learn more about the ManTalks Mastermind, check out both of our Masterminds:
ManTalks Mastermind
Performance Mastermind
what is a mastermind group, mastermind, men's mastermind, mantalks, connor beaton, mastermind vancouver, men's mastermind vancouverConnor Beaton is the founder of ManTalks, an international organization focused on men’s health, wellness, success, and fulfillment. Connor is also an international speaker, podcast host, CEO, and leader of ManTalks mission to build a global brotherhood. Before founding ManTalks, Connor had a brief career as an opera singer and worked at Apple, leading high-performance sales and operations teams. Since founding ManTalks, Connor has spoken on stage at TEDx, taken ManTalks to over a dozen cities internationally and has been featured on platforms like Forbes, Influencive, HeForShe, The Good Men Project, UN Women, CBC, CBS, and the National Post. 
mantalks, zander robertson, mastermind, men's mastermind, mastermind group, men's mastermind vancouver, what is a mastermind groupZander Robertson is the ManTalks CMO and master of online content. Prior to joining ManTalks, Zander had an illustrious career ghostwriting books behind-the-scenes for business and personal development leaders across North America. Zander is at his best when learning something new every day and applying it. These days he’s geeking out on psychology, philosophy, SEO, digital marketing, and Blockchain technology. Zander has written over 20 books [he lost count] and plans to write more in the future. Why did he join ManTalks? After building his own band-of-brothers, he saw the need and importance of building this space for men. It’s all about the vision, baby.

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