What is Group Therapy?

Many research studies have been done on group therapy. In one review of studies, researchers examined 48 different studies on group therapy’s effects in helping people with depression. In 45 of the 48 studies, it was determined that group therapy was beneficial and reduced depression in participants.
These are outstanding results.

So, what is group therapy?

What is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a form of counseling that offers more than just support. It is considered psychotherapy where you attend a counseling session with others struggling with similar issues to yours. Group therapy sessions are facilitated by licensed therapists and are usually recommended as part of a larger treatment plan.

For example, your mental health treatment may need various activities, including individual therapy, group therapy, support groups, and family therapy. The more therapies you attend, the more comprehensive your treatment, and likely, the more success you can have in recovery.

Group sessions take place at least once a week. In some cases, like with intensive outpatient programs, groups may meet two or three times a week. Depending on the level of care you need, you and your therapist will decide which type of group you can attend and which may be based on the group’s goals.

Goals of Group Therapy

Group therapy has been established to help each member realize specific goals. Upon entering a group, you may be at the beginning of your treatment, still struggling with mental health issues. Group therapy is set up to give you hope that things will get better. Without this hope, you may feel like giving up.

Another goal of group therapy is to help you realize your life can and will improve. Group therapy can boost your self-esteem through improved socialization and support. You get the chance to use your strengths to help yourself and others.

Most importantly, you get to learn more about yourself and build a better relationship with yourself.

There are group therapy opportunities for almost every disorder, from addiction to depression to anger management. There are typically no more than ten people, allowing each of you to receive the maximum benefits.

Benefits of Group Therapy

Have you ever met someone and thought, “Wow, they understand what I’m going through.”

If so, you know the biggest benefits group therapy offers, meeting people who share and understand your struggles. For example, if you attend AA because you are addicted to alcohol, then you will learn that everyone else at the AA meeting has a similar struggle with alcohol.

Meeting others similar to you helps you feel less alone. It also allows you to receive and give advice.

Peer support is critical to healing. You serve as role models for one another. When you see someone else succeeding, or when they see you succeed, that is inspiring. Further, because we spend much of our time in social situations, group therapy gives you the chance to practice new skills in a safe environment.

Group therapy can sometimes be seen as a classroom full of students. You are there learning about your issues and how to overcome them. Your therapist or instructor provides education. The more you know, the more power you have to change.

It’s important to note that group therapy is not the same as self-help groups.

Group Therapy vs. Self-Help Groups

Group therapy and self-help groups have some of the same goals. Particularly, they give you a place to receive advice, hear stories from peers, and get a boost of support at times when you may be struggling. However, there are also significant differences.

Group therapy is structured for learning and is led by a licensed mental health professional with specialized training in the field of psychology. The group leader teaches members techniques and methods for coping with their current struggles.

Examples of group therapy techniques include role-playing, reflection, active listening, and icebreakers to help start the sessions. Group therapy leaders may also use workbooks and reading materials, and videos as instructional tools.

Self-help groups are run by individuals who share similar issues and are searching for peer support. There are no limits to how many people can attend a meeting each week or multiple times a week. The idea behind self-help is to gain emotional support and advice from others in attendance.

Examples of self-help groups include AA and NA, Grief and Loss, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and Depression and Anxiety.

With each meeting, those in attendance at the self-help group are given a chance to share their stories and offer feedback to others who share.

When both self-help groups and group therapy are used in conjunction, you can benefit even more. If you are considering either type or both, it’s important to know where to start.

How to Join a Group

To join a self-help group, all you must do is show up. Your local library, hospital, or community center will usually have a posting of all the self-help groups available in your area. If you are already in individual counseling, your therapist can provide this information to you.

The American Group Therapy Association reports your individual therapist should be the one to refer you to a group for therapeutic purposes. In many cases, your therapist is also the one who leads the group.

You are selected for the group based on the therapist’s recommendation and because he or she has evaluated you to determine if you are a good fit and if you and the rest of the group will benefit from your participation.

Because the goal of group therapy focuses on helping you change rather than merely providing you with emotional support, your therapist will determine your readiness for change. Group therapy enables you to focus on improving yourself internally so you can have a better life, avoiding slipping back into negative behaviors you may have gone through in the past.

Group therapy can help you achieve the healthy, positive life you deserve. Go ahead, call for help today.