Why You Should Consider Group Therapy
Group therapy is a type of therapy in which multiple people gather in a safe and supportive space to discuss and process shared issues, under the guidance of a trained mental health professional. Group therapy can be helpful for those dealing with grief, trauma, divorce, low self-esteem, and relationship issues. Group therapy is also an effective form of treatment for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance use, amongst others. Groups may be designed for a specific gender or age group, and cover a variety of topics or issues.
In general, groups are either open or closed. Open groups welcome new members at any time. Closed groups may operate within a specific time frame, or have specific requirements for members to join. Group sizes vary – small groups have four to five members, which allows more focus on the individual, and large groups have eight to twelve members, which provides diversity of opinions.
The most common types of groups are cognitive behavioral, which focus on identifying and changing inaccurate or unhealthy thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors; interpersonal, which focus on improving relationships and social interactions; psychoeducation, which provide education on a specific mental health issue and teach appropriate skills related to that issue; skills development, which focus on improving social skills; and self-help/support, which focus on reciprocal healing and helping people cope. Many self-help/support groups are self-governed and run by volunteer members of the community.
There are a number of benefits to group therapy, including:
A support network and the understanding that you are not alone. Group members act as a sounding board and help you discover new ideas for approaching a problem or improving a situation. Engaging with others on a regular basis also allows you to put your own thoughts and views into perspective. By hearing other viewpoints and seeing how other members of the group make changes, your eyes may be opened to new solutions.
Enhanced level of self-awareness and self-esteem. Participating in group therapy helps you identify and accept your strengths and areas of growth. You will learn to value yourself, as well as your unique abilities and experiences.
Improved social skills and the development of personal connections. Activities and discussions can help you learn how to talk through your thoughts and feelings, listen to others, and build healthy relationships.
Improved coping skills and resiliency. Group therapy can help you learn and practice coping skills for managing your emotions, addressing challenges, and develop a greater sense of resiliency.
Group therapy can be a very rewarding experience, but there are a few things you may want to consider before joining a group.
Be open to sharing. Being a part of a group means sharing your experiences. If you are shy or feel uncomfortable with the idea of sharing personal experiences with strangers, group therapy might not be the best fit for you.
Know your needs. Would you be more comfortable in a small or large group? Would you prefer to attend sessions virtually or in person? Can you commit to regular, (usually) weekly attendance? What do you hope to gain from participating in a group? Knowing the answers to these questions will make it easier to find a group that will fit your needs.
Understand the limitations. While confidentiality is requested and expected, there is the potential that group members may share things that have been discussed in session. Additionally, group therapy is not intended for those experiencing a crisis.
If you’d like to know more about group therapy, talk to your therapist. Adding group therapy to your treatment plan can enhance your ability to make lasting changes. Prosperity Counseling currently offers groups for teens, women, and men.