Why Join a Therapy Group?
Why Group Therapy?
What is group therapy?
Group psychotherapy is an effective form of therapy in which a small number of people (usually 5-10) meet together under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist to help themselves and one another. There are many different approaches to group therapy but they share in common creating a safe, supportive, and cohesive space to address personal, relationship and societal issues.
Group therapy helps people improve their interpersonal relationships. It addresses feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety. And it helps people make significant changes so they feel better about the quality of their lives.
Group therapy has been widely used and has been a standard treatment option for over 50 years! In a number of studies, group psychotherapy has been shown to be at least as effective, and sometimes even more so, than individual therapy. To give just one example, in cases of medical illness, there is substantial evidence that group psychotherapy helps people cope better with their illness, enhances the quality of their lives, and, in some cases, such as breast cancer, has even been shown to help people live longer.
How does group therapy work?
Group therapy provides a place where you come together with others to share problems or concerns, to better understand your own situation, and to learn from and with each other. Under the leadership of a therapist, you will learn about yourself and improve your relationships with other people. You will gain self-understanding and skills for dealing with your concerns. In a typical session, which lasts about 60-90 minutes, members work to express their own challenges and aspirations, feelings, ideas, and reactions as freely and honestly as possible. Groups are held both in-person and online, and you can speak with the therapist about what they offer. Members learn not only to understand themselves and their own issues but also become therapeutic helpers for other group members.
Who can benefit from group therapy?
Group therapy can benefit people of different ages, sexual orientations, gender identities, and race, cultural and ethnic backgrounds who want help with specific concerns, such as depression, anxiety, serious medical illness, loss, addictive disorders, or behavioral challenges. In addition, group can benefit those seeking self-development by providing a safe environment in which to learn and grow.
Some of the issues typically addressed include:
Depression & Anxiety
Relationship & Interpersonal Concerns (family, romantic, peer group, etc).
Health & Medical Concerns
Grief & Loss
PTSD & Trauma
Child & Adolescent Concerns
What makes group therapy different from individual therapy?
We live and interact with people every day, and often there are concerns that other people are experiencing or grappling with that can be beneficial to share with others. In group therapy, you learn that perhaps you’re not alone or as different as you think. You’ll meet and interact with people, and give and share helpful feedback; the whole group learns to work together on common problems — one of the most beneficial aspects of group therapy.
The group is a microcosm of the macro world in which we live, and as society undergoes change, the nature of human interaction is also changing. The group provides a space to process the impact of change to our internal and external environments as we replicate our large world experiences in the small group. In group, one can expect to experience the confluence of race, class, and gender; the effects of the present as well as the past will be felt. The group space helps one to explore and define how one shows up in these spheres.
How is group therapy different than support group or self-help groups?
Group therapy focuses on interpersonal relationships and helps individuals learn how to get along better with other people under the guidance of a professional. Group psychotherapy also provides a support network for specific problems or challenges. The psychotherapy group is different from support and self-help groups in that it not only helps people cope with their problems, but also provides for change and growth. Support groups, which are generally led by professionals, help people cope with difficult situations at various times but are usually geared toward alleviating symptoms. Self-help groups usually focus on a particular shared symptom or situation and are usually not led by a trained therapist
What if I am uncomfortable with others in my group?
It is normal to have questions or concerns about joining a group. What am I going to get out of this? Will there be enough time to deal with my own problems in a group setting? What if I don’t like the people in my group? What if I’m uncomfortable discussing my problems in front of others? Some people feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a group, but they soon begin to develop feelings of trust and belonging. Most people find that group therapy provides a great deal of relief because it allows them a chance to talk with others in a private, confidential setting.
How do I find a group or a good group therapist?
Group psychotherapists are mental health professionals who are trained in one of several areas: psychiatry, psychology, social work, psychiatric nursing, marriage and family therapy, pastoral counseling, creative arts therapy, occupational therapy, professional counselors, or substance abuse counseling. When considering a therapist for group, make sure they are properly trained and credentialed in group therapy.
When talking with therapists, here are four simple questions you may want to ask.
• What is your background?
• Given my specific situation, how do you think group would work for me?
• What are your credentials as a group therapist?
• Do you have special training that is relevant to my problem?