As previously mentioned, participants of this group aren't hiding under the sheets as I was doing. For the most part, if I was in a dangerous situation, they would be the best bodyguards on the planet. No bending of these spines, I wish I had a bit of their gumption. Therefore I completely understood why no mingling outside group was strongly enforced.
The first time was quite problematic. I knew less about my dissociative tendencies, so allowing that pain in caused my brain to check me out (and full blown panic attacks to occur).
As a part of your individual therapy, it's usually encouraged (both by paid and public) to attend groups as a part of your treatment plan. Here's some of the basics to get you started.