What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy where a group of people meet weekly, sometimes more frequently, with one or more therapists. There are many different kinds of group therapy, some that fit the more traditional image of sitting in a circle while other types look more like a classroom setting.
Most groups will have some form of discussion that’s directed or guided by the therapist. The therapist’s job is to help group members feel heard, feel safe, and encourage members to contribute to the discussion. It can complement individual therapy or be used as a stand-alone treatment.
Group therapy gives individuals a place to come together with others who share the same concerns, understand their own situation better, and learn from one another. It also provides a space to help cope with problems and lets individuals have opportunities for change and growth.
Types of Group Therapy
Group therapy can offer a wide range of topics to help you work on certain issues or concerns. There are very focused groups that last for a dedicated amount of days or sessions, and there are more open, flexible groups where members can come and go as they please on a weekly basis.
The most common types of group therapy include:
Cognitive behavioral groups
This type of therapy helps identify and change distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors.
This type of group helps individuals focus on interpersonal relationships and social interactions.
This type of group gives people a space to unpack whatever they’re going through without focusing so much on one skill or one issue (e.g., PTSD or anxiety).
This type of group is focused on educating members about their disorders and how to best cope with them (e.g., substance use disorders, anxiety, phobias, etc.)
Skill development groups
This type of group is focused on skill-building, typically working with those who have illness or developmental disabilities but can also include social skills, parenting skills, etc.
This type of group helps members cope with a significant life change (e.g., grief counseling).
Benefits of Group Therapy
While joining a group of strangers can be intimidating at first, group therapy provides some benefits that individual therapy might not. Here are some benefits to look forward to if you decide to try group therapy:
A safe space with mutual support and encouragement
The members of the group are able to receive support and encouragement from one another because they’re sharing similar concerns and going through shared lived experiences. Group therapy helps others realize they’re not alone.
Some group members can become role models to other members based on how they’ve progressed in coping with their illness, disorder, or significant life change. Each member, no matter how far they are in their journey can serve as role models and be supportive to the newer members of the group.
Build social skills
Through observing the group dynamic and discussion, the therapist can see how each member responds and behaves in a social setting. The therapist can then provide feedback to each client on what he observed, what was helpful and what wasn’t.
Group therapy can be a more affordable option for some. While group costs do vary, on average, it’s about half as expensive as individual therapy.
Group Therapy Guidelines
No matter what type of group therapy an individual decides to attend, you may sometimes see the same guidelines. However, group therapy guidelines are established by the participants of the group, so they can also differ greatly from group to group. These rules help maintain the safety of the group and effectiveness of treatment:
- Maintain confidentiality – It’s important to keep whatever is shared during group therapy private by all members and therapists.
- Commit to attending – Arrive on time, commit to showing up for every session, and stay for the length of the session.
- Be mindful of socializing with group members – The bonds formed in group therapy are therapeutic not social. Refrain from making friends with group members until after group sessions have ended.
- Attempt to communicate with words – Use words to express thoughts, feelings, and reactions to others.
- Participate – There will be more potential for the group to work toward their goals if everyone participates, even in their own, small way.
How to Find the Right Group for You
Finding the right group for you may take some time. It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to work on and have some goals in mind. Ask yourself what you’re struggling with—anxiety, depression, stress, grief, a skill, a substance—and from there, you should be able to have some idea of what type of group therapy will best fit your needs.
Schedule a Session
If you would like to join a regular group session, please reach out to schedule sessions.
If you would like to request to form a new group, please fill out this form.