By Vanessa Gonzalez
Most people think of group therapy as two people, one the therapist and the other the client, sitting across from one another and our talking about the client’s issues. However, there are so many ways therapy can take place.
Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which at least one mental health professional works with a group of people at one time. Working in a group setting can create a supportive environment to address various issues.
Group therapy can be used independently, but individuals who attend group therapy often participate in individual therapy. Sometimes, a therapist might recommend that a client solely take group counseling therapy over the individual. It depends on the person and their needs. This form of therapy can be used for a variety of needs, such as:
- Grief and loss
- Substance use
- Eating disorders
- Parenting issues
- Domestic violence
- Anger management
- Posttraumatic stress disorder
- Panic disorder
- Specific phobias
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADHD)
- Chronic illness
How Group Therapy Works
The goal of the group is to create a safe and supportive environment for individuals to share any issues and feelings they may be experiencing openly. For example, members can ask advice from other group members on how to handle a situation. Or, simply listening to others in similar situations can create a cohesive environment for others to know they aren’t alone and put their situation and thoughts into perspective.
It’s important to remember that group therapy is not the same as a support group. Group therapy groups are led by a licensed mental health professional and will use clinical evidence-based techniques. In contrast, support groups cannot guarantee that the group facilitator will be a qualified certified professional.
Types of Group Therapy
While there are many types of groups, there are two main forms – Psycho educational and process groups.
- Psychoeducational – these are typically meant to members and provide information. The most important aspect of this group is that the therapist is providing content in an instructional method.
- Process – these groups focus on the group members and their relationships. The therapist takes on the role of a facilitator. They will be less active in the discussion and sit on the backburner. The goal is for the group members to participate and engage in conversation. This creates a relationship between the group members and helps build a safe environment and support of the group.
Things to Remember
It would help if you were willing to share in the group. This is an environment for you to be supported. Sometimes, there may be activities that engage everyone or when the facilitator asks individuals to share intensely personal information with others. If you struggle with communicating in a group with strangers, this may not be right for you. The therapist will remind everyone that everything should remain confidential and respect everyone’s privacy.
This type of therapy is meant for intervention work, not a crisis. This environment is not meant for everyone, and it does not have to be. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, it may be more beneficial to seek out an individual therapist as your need is higher.
There are many groups out there – if you try a group and it’s not suitable for you, there are more out there! Whether it be a different therapist, different environment, or different members, don’t give up.
We offer groups on anger management, teen support groups, autism skills groups, divorce support groups, substance use groups, and more!