The origins of group therapy in the U.S., or at least its rise in popularity, started after the second World War, when veterans returning from overseas tours were placed into group therapy where licensed mental health care specialists led them through sessions from which major progress was observed.
If you’ve looked into online group therapy, you probably know a little bit about its benefits. Here’s a few:
Did you know that traditional one on one (individual) therapy can run anywhere from $100-$300 a session? This is one of the many reasons a lot of people are drawn to group therapy. Group therapy (both in person and online) usually costs around $30-$40 per session, but doesn’t require giving up the benefits of mental health counseling. Therapists are able to decrease the per-session cost since sessions are attended by more people, and there is no physical overhead (like paying for an office and driving to/from work) cost to consider.
Every online group is led by a licensed mental health provider such as a psychologist, clinical social worker, or counselor, which is the same standard of care you can expect in individual therapy. In your online group you’ll still have the opportunity to discuss your challenges, have a treatment plan assessment, and be led through helpful skills training or different types of psychotherapy in order to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Having a less expensive per-session cost also often means you can attend therapy more regularly, and therefore progress faster.
When participating in an online therapy group, one major benefit is that you’ll be exposed to the thoughts, experiences, and stories of others just like you who are struggling with similar issues in their own lives. In many cases just hearing other peoples’ stories can trigger “light bulb” revelations about your own experiences, behaviors, thoughts and feelings. Oftentimes mental health struggles can leave us feeling isolated and alone, which can perpetuate challenges we’re already facing and increase the frequency and severity of our symptoms. With online group therapy, feeling accepted and understood by others who truly “get it” can lead to a greater sense of openness and an increased willingness to share, which in turn creates a healthier and more transparent environment in which to grow and learn.
When working with you to decrease your symptoms and mitigate the stress you feel every day as a result of your mental health condition or challenges, your therapist will likely ask you to practice new habits and communication to replace old, destructive ones. The great thing about online group therapy is that (from the safety and comfort of your own home) you can actually utilize your group therapy peers in order to practice some of these new behaviors, communication techniques and self-soothing tactics. This creates a powerful opportunity to simulate real-world encounters in a safe, controlled group environment under the supervision of your group’s therapist.
These and many other benefits can make online group therapy an appealing choice when pursuing mental health support.
Now that you understand some of the benefits, you might be wondering about how to choose the right online therapy group. With so many options out there today, there’s a few things you’ll want to consider before making a decision.
Some of the most successful online therapy groups utilize a core focus in order to bring together patients who can understand each other and all benefit from the same type of counseling and treatment plan.
Imagine that you are struggling with anxiety, but you’re placed in a group with someone who has Bipolar Disorder, another person who is grieving the death of a child, and someone struggling with self-harm. It’s unlikely you’d all need the same treatment plan or therapy tools in order to improve, and it might be difficult to understand one another and what you’re going through.
This is why it is really important to find a group that focuses on something you are struggling with. For instance, an online grief therapy group, online Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a disordered eating group, or a PTSD group. Choosing a group that “fits” the mental health condition or challenges you’re facing will undoubtedly make you more comfortable with the other group members and can fast-track your progress with a clear, specific roadmap that addresses your needs and concerns.
While most online therapy groups follow a weekly session format (usually for about an hour), some may do this in an online chat room, through a secure phone call, or by HIPAA-compliant video conferencing platform (such as Zoom). Depending on your level of comfort and what is most convenient for you, you’ll want to know exactly how the sessions are run every week, and then make an informed decision. Always choose the style that is MOST likely to help you show up every week.
It might be a no-brainer, but the other really important factor to consider when exploring online group therapy options is the days/times your focus group is meeting and to ensure this lines up with your availability. The last thing you want to do is commit to taking the courageous first step in improving your mental health, only to find that you are unavailable Wednesdays, which is the only day your group meets every week.
Most online group therapy will offer a variety of session times and days in order to meet scheduling needs. Keep in mind that one other major benefit of online group therapy sessions is that you don’t have to drive to and from an office, which diminishes the risk of making excuses when you just don’t feel like showing up!
Are you looking for the perfect online therapy group for you? We’re confident you can find it here, at Grouport!