Group Therapy

What Is Group Therapy?

The term “group therapy” seems pretty self-explanatory—and at first glance, it is. Simply stated, group therapy refers to therapy that takes place in a group setting. The group is usually made up of members who share similar experiences and struggles. 

However, if you think group therapy is as simple as a group of people chatting about their common issues, you could have the wrong idea. Group therapy is actually a form of psychotherapy. Each session is led by one or more clinicians and involves five or more people who are struggling with a specific disorder or challenge. Some of the common issues treated by group therapy include:

  • ADHD
  • Behavioral addictions
  • Relationship challenges
  • Panic disorder
  • Depression

It’s often used as a supplement to individual therapy and has proven to be hugely effective for most people. Meetings often take between 1.5 and 2 hours and can be attended up to twice a week. The particulars of each session will depend upon the group, the common issue, and the assigned therapist. It is not uncommon for group therapy to include these types of activities:

  • Goal visualization
  • Expressive writing
  • Verbal sharing
  • Gratitude mapping
  • Icebreaking activities

Depending on the style of the therapist, a group session might be highly organized or free-flowing and flexible.

What Are the Advantages of Group Therapy?

Group therapy is often considered as effective as individual therapy. And for some, it could prove to be even more effective than the traditional route. That’s because group therapy offers many unique advantages, including: 

Offering a Safe Space to Share

For anyone who is new to therapy, it can be difficult or intimidating to share personal experiences in an intimate setting. In group therapy, you have the advantage of listening to the stories, experiences, and traumas of people who are not so different from you. Over time, this usually has the effect of making it easier to share what’s on your own mind.

As you hear personal stories being shared by others, you will come to understand that the meeting is a safe space. Anything that is shared within the group is kept within the group. This can be a huge motivator in allowing you to share your own story.

You may also discover a sense of belonging that comes from getting to know people who have similar life experiences and struggles. Ultimately, this may help you to feel more comfortable in sharing your story.

Helping You Feel Less Alone

This sense of belonging will have the added benefit of making you feel more supported and less alone. Many people who struggle with depression, relationship issues, and behavioral addictions feel isolated in their difficulties. In group therapy, hearing stories that speak to your own experiences can be extremely validating.

Putting Problems Into Perspective

As you build connections with other people who are struggling, you may also find that it puts your own problems into perspective. You may even learn about coping methods that work for others and could make a difference in your own life. Gaining some perspective on your own issues can help you see the metaphorical “light at the end of the tunnel.” As you see other people cope with and survive their trauma, you may begin to believe you can do the same. 

Giving You a Voice

Finding and using your voice is a key part of healing. If you are unable to express how you are feeling, you won’t be able to stand up for yourself and conquer those issues that lie ahead of you. 

Many people who undergo group therapy find that it’s a safe and respectful place to find their voice. Even if you normally struggle with stress and anxiety in social situations, you may eventually feel comfortable enough to share your thoughts without filtering them.

Improving Social Skills

Many mental health and situational issues are made more complex by social anxiety. If you need a safe space to expand upon your social skills, group therapy is the perfect solution. Because it is a safe space, you will have plenty of opportunities to engage and re-engage with the members of your group. Over time, this practice will enable you to do the same in the real world.

Helping You Grow

The purpose of all types of therapy is to learn and grow. Group therapy is no different. As you settle into this safe space, you will feel less alone, gain perspective on your problems, find your voice, improve your social skills, and discover a host of other benefits.  

Saving You Money

Additionally, you should keep in mind that group therapy is considered less expensive than other forms of individualized therapy. This means it is available to more people and doesn’t add financial strain to any other issues you may be dealing with. And don’t forget: it is not any less effective than one-on-one therapy!

Is Group Therapy the Same As a Support Group?

Group therapy meetings are often confused with support group meetings, but the two are not the same. In fact, they are vastly different in their goals, methods, and outcomes—even though you might find either or both to be effective in helping you deal with your issues.

With group therapy, the ultimate goal is growth, change, and healing. Most people who enter group therapy do so with the hope that it will ultimately put an end to their relationship struggles, anxiety, or depression. To enter group therapy, you must first be interviewed by a counselor who determines whether you are a good fit for the group and vice versa. 

With support groups, the ultimate goal is to find a way to cope with something that cannot be changed. It may be the death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, or some other unalterable fact. Generally speaking, anyone can enter a support group.

How Do You Know If Group Therapy Is Right for You?

While group therapy is generally considered an effective treatment for a variety of disorders, it’s not a good fit for everyone. If you struggle with severe social anxiety or have a public speaking phobia, you may not find group therapy helpful until those issues have been treated via individual therapy.

However, if you think you might benefit from getting to know and hear from other people with similar struggles, group therapy could be the perfect solution. 

At Neal Psychological Specialties, we understand that group therapy is not right for everyone. That’s why we offer free 15-minute meet and greets—so that we can get to know you better and make more accurate recommendations for your treatment. If you’re ready to learn more about group therapy and how it might work for you, give us a call at (815) 477-4727.

Are you ready to take the next step?