The American Psychological Association says that we have been experiencing a continuous rise in the popularity of group therapy here in the United States since the aftermath of the second World War. During this time period, returning combat veterans were placed into therapy groups and the licensed mental healthcare providers leading them saw major benefits from these therapy sessions.
Some therapy groups can be organized around a similar experience, such as navigating the aftermath of losing a loved one, while others may be formed around struggling with similar issues, such as depression, substance abuse, or chronic pain. Other groups, still, might take a less specific focus, aiming to help people sharpen their social skills, manage their anger, or assuage loneliness. As you explore the ins and outs of this mental health solution, here are 5 Things You Need To Know About Group Therapy.
What Does Group Therapy Treat?
Group therapy in its different iterations can potentially treat conditions including but not limited to:
- Panic disorder
- Attention deficit disorder
- Substance abuse
- Various phobias
- Panic disorders
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Eating disorders
- Grief and loss
- Chronic illness
- Chronic pain
- Anger management
- Weight management
- Chronic stress
What Makes Group Therapy Different?
Group therapy offers a different range of perks from individual therapy, such as:
- Diversity - because individuals from all different walks of life and backgrounds join therapy groups, each group member has the potential to view situations in various ways. Because of this, people in therapy groups may be able to glean unique insights from fellow group members on how they can address their specific problems. This can lead to the discovery of an entire new set of avenues through which one can deal with their individual issues.
- A sounding board - therapy groups may not only function as a support network, but also as a sounding board through which individuals can work through different ways to potentially handle a tough time in their life while being held accountable by other group members.
- Perspective - being in a therapy group can help individuals keep their own issues in perspective. While experiencing mental health difficulties can seem incredibly alienating, being in a group therapy setting with others who are going through similar experiences can offer a sense of relief that one is not alone in their struggles.
What Are The Benefits Of Group Therapy?
There are many significant benefits to exploring group therapy as a solution to your mental health concerns as you look to improve your quality of life. These include:
- A wide safety net for individuals who might normally feel uncomfortable opening up about their individual struggles.
- Encouraging clients to learn how to accept criticism from other people while learning how to best express the problems they are experiencing.
- Encouraging the development of socialization and communication skills.
- In general, group therapy tends to be less expensive than individual therapy.
- Making sure that group members remember that they are not alone in the issues they are experiencing.
- Offering a broader therapeutic alliance than individual therapy, allowing clients to see a wider range of points of view.
- The chance to offer support to other group members while simultaneously receiving support from others. This exchange can offer group members the opportunity to learn and grow while in session.
- The process of discussing shared issues tends to be a therapeutic process in itself.
- Individuals can model the tactics of other group members that have seen success in dealing with similar issues.
- Fostering the development of self awareness through the process of listening to other group members who are experiencing similar problems.
What Types Of Group Therapy Are There?
There are many different types of group therapy; groups are categorized based on clinical methods employed within them as well as the issue the group is addressing. The most common kinds of group therapy are:
- Skills development groups: these groups are generally geared towards individuals with mental disorders or developmental disabilities who would like to improve their social skills.
- Support groups: made to benefit individuals and sometimes even their loved ones, support groups provide assistance for people who are suffering from specific mental or physical conditions, or are dealing with a certain issue, such as substance abuse or the loss of a loved one.
- Cognitive behavioral groups: these groups are centered on identifying and altering maladaptive behaviors, thinking patterns, as well as emotional responses.
- Psychoeducational groups: often using cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducational groups work to teach their members about a disorder that they were diagnosed with, along with helpful strategies of coping.
- Interpersonal groups: focusing on members’ interpersonal relationships and their social interactions with others, interpersonal groups also examine how much support their members have from their loved ones and how their interpersonal relationships affect their mental health.
When Should I Consider Group Therapy?
If you are thinking about enrolling in a therapy group, there are many variables you may want to consider, such as:
- How many people are in each group session? Smaller groups could mean members receive more individual support, while larger therapy groups may involve more perspectives and diversity.
- Will group therapy be enough to address one’s problems? Some individuals may benefit most from enrolling in both group and individual psychotherapy.
- Is the therapy group open or closed? While open therapy groups allow individuals to join the group whenever they’d like, closed ones ensure the same group members stay on for a several week-long session.
- How alike or dissimilar are group members? Experts say that therapy groups tend to be the most effective when group members are going through similar issues and levels of functionality.
- How much should one share in a session? Therapy groups are built on confidentiality and trust, and everyone is there for a similar reason. Group therapy functions at its best when it involves honest discussion between those involved.
Group therapy is a less expensive, but equally fulfilling alternative to seeking individualized therapy. The benefits of group therapy are becoming increasingly known as more and more people seek help for mental health concerns - many from the comfort of their home. A typical therapy group is made up of about fifteen members led by at least one trained mental health expert that will likely meet on the same day and time each week for about an hour.
No matter what you may or may not be struggling with, group therapy can help you change your life and experience of the world in positive, tangible ways. Get started today!