Group therapy can initially sound intimidating to some people, but, in reality, it can actually be more productive and powerful than individual counseling alone. In group therapy, you typically meet with 3-10 other individuals who are experiencing similar issues as you.
Past group members have shared: “I felt supported by the therapist and peers,” another shared, “it was great to have people to relate to…didn’t feel so alone.” And “I felt like I learned tangible skills I can use.”
Group therapy activities consist of learning effective tools while relating it to your own experiences. You also get the opportunity to listen to others share how they are coping and utilizing skills to help with their experiences. This can help to give you more tools and to know you are not alone in this struggle. Group sessions are not a place where people share gory details about unfortunate life events. It’s much more about learning tools and getting support from others who know what you are going through. Being anxious before a session is completely normal. As sessions progress, you usually feel more comfortable and relaxed. There is no pressure to share, everything is done at your own pace.
During the group therapy process, therapists provide a supportive environment, teach tools and help to ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to share while not letting individuals monopolize the time. Group therapists are highly skilled in helping connect group members and often times members will connect with one another outside of session, becoming a strong sense of support for one another. It’s truly a magical thing to watch the evolution of a group and how close and connected everyone can become.
A therapy group usually consists of people with different backgrounds and perspectives; this allows everyone to have greater insight into their personal growth and development. These groups can also foster social skills as you get opportunities to interact with others. Additionally, listening to others during the group session can help you push forward as you hear how others have overcome similar struggles.
Benefits of Group Sessions
A common misconception about group therapy is that each individual does one-on-one counseling with the therapist while everyone else watches. This is not at all accurate. Everyone in the group is encouraged to look to each other for support and feedback. If one group member is expressing his/her concerns about feeling anxious in a certain situation, other group members are encouraged to offer feedback and support by discussing how they may have gotten through similar situations.
Group therapy can help you relate to others in a healthier manner. You can get honest feedback from other members and the therapist. A group can talk about a situation and allow you an opportunity to reflect on it.
For example, it could be difficult for you to share positive information about yourself with someone else; maybe you hide certain aspects of your personality or maybe you do not handle conflict well. A therapy group may notice these traits and bring them up for a deeper discussion. You will get real-time feedback on how other members might be perceiving you and what you are sharing. This is truly valuable in helping you make changes to your life and preventing you from continuing the same cycles/patterns that may not be serving you well.
Finally, group therapy can provide a safety net. It can strengthen your communication skills and allow you to voice your feelings in a better way. A therapy group can support you in ways individual counseling cannot.