What is group therapy?

Group therapy is a type of psychological therapy that is conducted with a group of people, rather than in a one-on-one session. This approach is sometimes used alone, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy and medication.

vlcsnap-2013-05-16-13h41m36s249Group therapy can help anyone who is in need of mental health care. Like individual therapy, group therapy can benefit people with such conditions as anxiety, panic, depression, family problems, addictions, etc.

Groups can be as small as three or four people, but group therapy sessions generally involve around seven to twelve individuals (although it is possible to have more participants). The group typically meets once or twice each week for an hour or two. Group therapy sessions vary, but the basic format is a small group of patients meet on a regular basis to discuss their feelings and problems and provide mutual support.

The session is guided by a professional therapist who is specially trained in group therapy. The therapist acts as moderator and may suggest a “theme” or topic for the group’s discussion. Sometimes, the therapist will allow the group members to pick the topic for the session.

In a typical session, which lasts about 75-90 minutes, members work to express their own problems, feelings, ideas and reactions as freely and honestly as possible. Such exploration gives the group the important information needed to understand and help one another. Members learn not only to understand themselves and their own issues but also become “therapeutic helpers” for other members.

It’s not unusual to feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a group, but soon you begin to develop feelings of interest and trust. Most clients find that group therapy provides a great deal of relief because it allows them a chance to talk with others who are experiencing similar problems — in a private, confidential setting. Unlike individual therapy sessions, group therapy offers participants the opportunity to interact with others with similar issues in a safe, supportive environment.

sb10061547br-001People in group therapy improve not only from the interventions of the therapist, but also from observing others in the group and receiving feedback from group members. The group format, while not providing the one-on-one attention of individual formats, has several advantages.

Probably the biggest advantage of group therapy for mental health issues is in helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have similar problems. This is often a revelation, and a huge relief, to the person.

Additional benefits include:

  • Increased feedback Group therapy can provide the patient with feedback from other people. Getting different perspectives is often helpful in promoting growth and change.
  • Modeling By seeing how others handle similar problems, the patient can rapidly add new coping methods to his or her behaviors. This is beneficial in that it can Participants can try out new behaviors, role play, and engage with others give the patient a variety of perspectives on what seem to work and when.
  • Less expensive By treating several patients simultaneously, the therapist can reduce the usual fee. In most cases the cost of group therapy is about one-third that of individual therapy.
  • Improve social skills Since so much of our daily interaction is with other people, many people learn to improve their social skills in group therapy (even though such an issue may not be the focus of the group). The group leader, a therapist, often helps people to learn to communicate more clearly and effectively with one another in the group context. This is inevitably leads to people learning new social skills which they can generalize and use in all of their relationships with others.

There are clinicians and researchers who also claim that the group psychotherapy process produces stronger and longer-lasting results for many people, as compared to individual psychotherapy.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offer a wide variety of group therapy. If you or someone you know would benefit from group therapy, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 1-877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services. 

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