Group therapies advantages: 7 benefits of group therapy
7 benefits of group therapy
Let’s face it. Seeing a therapist is not easy. To benefit from the process, you really have to put yourself out there. It’s a very personal experience that involves disclosing things about yourself and your feelings that you wouldn’t be inclined to tell your friends or family, let alone a stranger. In doing so, especially at first, you undoubtedly will experience feelings of vulnerability that may cause discomfort and that’s just talking to one person in the privacy of their office. These days those same encounters can be more challenging because they are over the phone or through video.
Therapy, however, is not limited to seeking counsel from an individual therapist. Group therapy provides a rather effective avenue for treatment of behavioral health issues. Typically, group therapy sessions are led by one or more therapists working with several people at the same time concerning a condition or lived experience for which all members of the group are seeking treatment. While group therapy can be used alone, it is more commonly used with individual therapy and, possibly, medication.
Yet, some may feel reluctant to participate in group therapy because of a heightened sense of vulnerability – more people, more exposure. But, if you can get past that feeling, the benefits of group therapy can be quite rewarding, especially for those suffering from depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, social phobias and substance use disorders.
Here are just some of the benefits to group therapy:
One of the most important benefits is learning that there are others like you suffering from the same thing. Oftentimes there are strong feelings of isolation and alienation when dealing with a mental health issue that makes seeking treatment difficult. With group therapy, you are with people who are dealing with the same or similar issues. This common understanding of a difficult experience nurtures trust and makes any judgment a lot less likely. Sharing feelings with the group can also help relieve the pain or stress you may be feeling.
2. Different perspectives.
Group therapy, by its very nature, involves input from a variety of perspectives. With different personalities and experiences, people tend to look at issues and problems differently. By seeing how other people handle these issues and problems, you can incorporate different strategies to address your own. Plus, typically, members of the group will be at different stages in addressing their treatment and will be able to offer to others their experiences and ways of coping.
While peer pressure is normally not perceived as a positive, with group therapy subtle forms of it can be. Now, this doesn’t mean judging someone or making them feel guilty or attempting to bully someone into behaving a certain way. But with other members of the group providing positive feedback and advice for addressing challenges, a feeling of accountability occurs from wanting to please and be accepted by the group, which can help push you forward toward achieving your goals.
Having the camaraderie, fellowship and support of group members provide a type of safety net that builds confidence. This confidence enables you to push yourself outside of the group, knowing that even if you stumble, you’ve got others to fall back upon.
All of us have blind spots about ourselves, some of which may hold us back from effectively addressing those things that may be at the root of our problems. Through interacting with members of the group, you will see reflections of yourself from their perspectives, allowing for those blind spots to be uncovered and improving your ability to cope with the situations for which you need help.
Full or partial in-patient treatment often includes a significant amount of group therapy that patients grow accustomed to and feel is critical to their continued treatment. Out-patient group therapy assures that such treatment is accessible and continual.
Just like with individual therapy, group therapy requires participants to maintain confidentiality outside of the group. Granted, members of the group aren’t subject to the same ethical constraints as licensed therapists, but members are typically (and should be) required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Of course, such agreements can be broken but, given the shared experiences of group members, there is a real ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ feeling. Also, first names or initials can be used to provide further comfort.
Citizen Advocates offers group, marriage, and family counseling services for mental health and addiction treatment. Contact us to learn more.
6 Benefits of Group Therapy for Mental Health Treatment
At first, the idea of participating in group therapy might seem intimidating. Who wants to share their story with strangers? But group therapy, in which one or more psychologists lead a group of 5 to 15 people, can be very beneficial. In fact, “participants are often surprised by how rewarding their experience can be,” says Ben Johnson, PhD, ABPP, a clinical psychologist, director of Rhode Island Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Coaching, and a clinical assistant professor at the Warren Albert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I. “I’m a big fan of group therapy.”
Patti Cox, PhD, CGP, in private practice in New York and president of the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society, a regional affiliate of the American Group Psychotherapy Association, says anyone can benefit from group therapy “What’s important is to be in the right group at the right time,” she says. “An acute crisis is not the best time to start group therapy because your needs are so great.”
Groups generally meet once or twice a week for 90 minutes to two hours. How much people want to reveal about themselves is very individual, but there’s security in knowing that what’s said in group, stays in group.
Benefits of Group Therapy
Here’s how group therapy for mental health treatment can help:
Groups provide support. Hearing from others with similar issues helps you see that you’re not alone in having challenges, whether you’re grappling with panic attacks, depression, or another mental health issue, Johnson says. Many people experience a sense of relief.
Groups provide a sounding board. If, for example, you talk about a fight you had with your partner, group members can see things in the way you present it that you don’t. “Hearing from other people about how you come across can be very powerful,” Johnson says. “You get a wider range of perspectives on your situation, and that can help you deal with your problems better.”
Groups can propel you forward. Hearing how other members successfully overcame their fear of flying or how they confronted a family member over drug abuse can be very encouraging. “Patients often push themselves harder when they see what others are doing,” Johnson says.
Groups promote social skills. “Groups not only help to ease that sense of isolation, but also give the opportunity to practice re-engaging with people,” Johnson says. By participating in a group, you see that you can get along with others.
Group therapy costs less than individual counseling. Some people believe that, because group therapy costs less, it’s not as good, but “that’s not the case at all,” Cox says. “Group therapy can be incredibly powerful.”
Groups teach you about yourself. “Every person in the group holds up a mirror and you get to see yourself through their eyes,” Cox says. It’s a way of uncovering the blind spots that may be blocking your ability to overcome your issues.
Sharing Can Be Healing
Like many people, Traci Barr, 51, of Greenville, S.C., who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a teen, was skeptical that she could benefit from a group. However, three years ago, after a failed suicide attempt, Barr went into group therapy while recovering in the hospital.
“I had a much more open mind to it because, at that point, I had nothing left to lose,” she says. “I was going to do whatever the doctors told me, and doctors told me I would benefit from group therapy. ”
Right away, though, Barr found that the suggestions the group offered were exactly what she needed.
RELATED: 5 Health Risks Linked to Depression
“The group helped me most with coping skills,” she says. “I learned very simple and very effective things — such as what boundaries are and not to allow things in my life that were not good for my manic side.” Barr also found that sharing her story with others was “very meaningful and very healing.”
The group experience, Barr says, “definitely helped me over the hump.” From there, she says, it was a matter of building on small victories — going from being unable to do laundry to launching a new career as a chef and now being able to make presentations about healthy eating in front of large crowds.
How to Get the Most From Group
Try these steps to maximize group therapy:
Take a pledge. Each group should have participants sign a contract that spells out what’s expected of them, Cox says. Knowing this can help you overcome any fears about participating.
Participate. You might have days when you don’t feel like talking, and that’s fine, Cox says, but the more you contribute, the more you’ll get out of it.
Share. Your experiences might be meaningful to someone else, and you’ll find that helping others helps you, too.
3 Big Ways Forgiveness Is Good for Your Health
Research shows people who forgive more tend to better manage stress, have stronger relationships, have better heart health, and have lower risk of mental…
By Kaitlin Sullivan
5 Common Misconceptions About Domestic Violence
Calling the police always helps, it’s the victim’s fault, and other myths about domestic violence that don’t hold up against the facts.
By Allison Young, MD
Best Online Therapy for Anxiety in 2023
We evaluated the best online therapy for anxiety and named BetterHelp, Brightside, and Talkspace the top three. Here’s how you can seek help managing …
By Sara Lindberg
Top 4 Apps to Support Your Mental Health
Mental health apps can connect you with an online therapist, teach you tools for relaxation and better sleep, and help you journal your thoughts.
By Savannah Bacon
The Best Online Therapy for Depression in 2023
Living with depression and interested in online counseling? Read our independently researched review of the best online therapy platforms for depression…
By Sara Lindberg
7 Best Online Psychiatrist Platforms of 2023
Choosing the best online psychiatrist for your needs can be hard. We researched online psychiatry services to find the best online psychiatrists.
By Sara Lindberg
13 Celebrities Who Have Spoken Out About Sexual Assault
When a high-profile case of sexual assault makes the news, it can be both empowering and triggering for survivors. Here are 13 famous faces who say they…
By Jessica Migala
Benefits of group therapy | Eco-center for psychological health “Mezhdurechye”
Most people roughly imagine how an individual consultation with a psychologist takes place and why it is needed. You come to a specialist and in a calm environment, one on one, share your experiences. Another thing is group work – for many it remains a mystery why it is needed, despite the fact that often only this form of work can solve a person’s problem. Let us consider in more detail the benefits of this type of psychotherapy and the fears that it can cause.
Typical fears that group therapy causes in people
– “It’s scary to talk about my problems in front of many strangers”
– “My problem is special and they won’t understand me” 9 0004
– “I can offend other participants, hurt my feelings”
— “The other participants will “crush” me and my problem will remain unnoticed”
In fact, all these fears have no basis. There is always a leader in the group – a specialist (coach) or co-hosts. It is the leader of the group who does not allow her to get out of control and inflict mental trauma on one of the participants. In addition, the group work process is structured so that everyone, even a very modest and indecisive person, can speak out. Under the guidance of a professional, all conditions are created in the group for a person to share his experiences at the level and at the pace that is comfortable for him.
Let’s take a closer look at the unique benefits of group therapy versus individual therapy.
Psychotherapy group recreates society in miniature . That is why it models a system of relationships and interactions that are present in the life of every person. In an individual consultation, on the contrary, a somewhat artificial, idealistic relationship is created for a person, where there is only a client and a therapist who accepts and understands him.
The group promotes personal maturity. Working in a group, a person gains tremendous experience of effective interaction with other people. It is here that he learns new, mature relationship styles. In the process of individual consultation, on the contrary, it often happens that the client’s personal development is hampered because he is too “sticky” in a comfortable, parent-child relationship with the therapist.
Emotional support. It is in the group that a person receives a huge amount of support and approval, thanks to which he adapts better in society, becomes more confident in himself. Group work can give the participant the feeling that they are not alone and there are a lot of people who have the same problem and experience the same suffering about it. This awareness of one’s belonging to others often has a powerful psychotherapeutic effect in itself.
Allows a person to see themselves from the side . It is in the group that the client can receive sincere, invaluable feedback about himself from those around him. This allows him to become more aware of how he looks in the eyes of other people. It is this unique feature of the group that is never available to us either in individual psychotherapy or in real life, where the assessments of others are overly biased and often reflect not ourselves, but projections on those around us.
Helps a person to open up . Through interaction with other participants, a person learns to better understand himself and express himself, which is so important for raising self-esteem and self-confidence.
Tension in a group helps to solve psychological problems. In the process of group work, a special atmosphere is formed between the participants, which helps to clarify the psychological difficulties of each of the participants. The tension in the group charges it with a special healing energy. At the same time, the task of the leader is to control this process and direct it in a constructive direction.
Allows you to discuss and accept any of your feelings. In life, we are not always able to speak openly about our feelings (anger, jealousy, resentment) out of fear that loved ones will not understand us and will judge us. And often the inability to speak frankly – for example, in a relationship with a partner, creates a lot of tension in our lives. Group work, on the other hand, allows us to speak openly about any of our feelings and be accepted at the same time. And most importantly, the members of the psychotherapeutic group, giving us feedback, help us choose exactly the form of expressing our experiences that will be understandable and accessible to another person.
Three Benefits of Group Therapy | Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of It – The Psychology of Effective Living
My practice shows that people who “do not like groups” participate in group therapy. I run groups for people who tend to overeat, so an aggravating circumstance is added to the wary attitude towards any kind of collective action – a particularly sensitive subject of conversation.
Really, who wants to sit in the same room with a bunch of strangers and share their best-kept personal secrets? Hint: nobody. In short, I run a group for people who don’t like group therapy.
So why do so many people hesitate about group therapy or refuse it altogether? I usually hear three main cons.
1. “I don’t want to talk about my problems with other people.”
We live in a culture that sees emotional vulnerability as a sign of weakness. We are taught to put on a happy mask and endure silently. It is no wonder that the struggle with difficult problems is surrounded by such a thick armor of shame. From one thought about the need to talk about his struggle openly, it becomes uncomfortable and even scary.
I assure you, you are not alone. Joining group therapy is really scary. Most members resist the need to open up to the rest of the group. But here’s the solution: sometimes you have to force yourself to do uncomfortable things.
Change usually happens when we decide to take a step out of our comfort zone. But what if we assume that the benefits of group therapy outweigh all the disadvantages of initial embarrassment and discomfort?
2. “I don’t want to hear other people’s complaints”
When you imagine a group therapy session, you probably draw the following picture in your head: a group of sad people sitting in a circle on folding chairs somewhere in a dark basement, drinking cold coffee and vied with each other complaining about his life. Is not it?
If these are your performances, you’ve definitely watched too much TV! Given how dramatically group therapy is portrayed in movies and TV shows, it’s no surprise that people think thrice before joining a group.
In fact, modern group therapy looks much more lively and dynamic. A good leader will moderate the discussion and will not allow one person to take up all the airtime, and will ensure that the meetings are effective. Good group therapy is not a festival of whiners, but productive meetings with the goal of concrete changes.
3. “I don’t have time for this”
We live in a world where most of us tend to overload our schedules with too many things to do, projects, plans. And we also spend a huge amount of time in front of the screens of computers and gadgets without real contact with living people.
Why are we always so busy? For starters, according to statistics, we spend an average of 2 hours on social media. 2 hours every day! Do you know how long a typical group takes? 1-2 hours per week.
By joining a group, you really dedicate some of your time. You agree to appear at a certain hour in a certain place for a certain period of time. In the online age, this may seem like an outdated idea, but the human need for communication does not evolve as quickly as technology.
That’s why small groups are one of the main assistants on the way to long-term changes in life. So maybe you can find some time to invest in taking care of yourself?
So, with the three main arguments against group therapy sorted out, and now let’s move on to its three main advantages.
1. Reducing shame about your struggles
We often feel that our problems are so terrible and disgusting that we keep them a secret. Often I hear from patients that they have never told anyone about their struggles: neither their spouse, nor friends, nor parents. This shame increases exponentially and leads to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
It may be embarrassing to share such things with strangers, but most participants experience great relief and release as a result. The American Psychological Association once published a study that claimed that group therapy can provide a person with the necessary social support, improve social connections, reduce feelings of guilt, shame, and isolation.
The strength of group therapy is that you connect with people who struggle with the same problems and weaknesses, and all this happens in a friendly environment where you are treated with understanding and compassion.
2. You never know whose words will help you change
And it doesn’t have to be a therapist! Sometimes it is enough to hear the words from the lips of a person who is experiencing the same thing as you, so that something clicks in your head and you see everything in a different light.
From my own experience, I can say that the moments of insight for my clients usually arose not because of my words, but because of the words of one of the group members.
3. It is an affordable and effective therapy
Since your therapist’s time is divided among several people, group therapy is usually more accessible than face-to-face counseling. Numerous studies show that group therapy is as effective as individual therapy.
Of course, as a specialist, I am sure that the best results can be achieved by combining individual and group sessions. But if you can’t afford both at the same time, a band is a great compromise.
“Psychotherapy in questions and answers. Journey into the Deep World of the Soul” is a book by Alexander Danilin for those who want to learn more about the field of psychotherapy, who practice or seek to improve their educational level, as well as for everyone who wants to cope with life’s difficulties on their own: https://psy. systems/post/aleksandr-danilin-psixoterapia-v-voprosax-i-otvetax.
How to choose a really worthwhile training so as not to waste money? Recommendations are given by psychologist Anna Kutyavina: https://psy.systems/post/kak-vybrat-training-kotoryj-vam-dejstvitelno-nuzhen.
A bad first experience with a psychologist can completely discourage you from seeking help next time. Gestalt therapist Irina Varvarina tells how to choose a specialist so as not to regret your choice: https://psy.systems/post/kak-vybrat-psixologa-chtoby-ne-pozhalet.