Group therapy is a type of therapy in which multiple people who experience the same mental health issue work together with a therapist. Those involved might share their own experiences with their mental health issue with the group. The therapist helps ensure that the group stays focused and constructive, and may share tips or coping mechanisms with the group. Group therapy can involve anywhere from 5 to 20 people. Two therapists may facilitate larger groups.
What Happens in Group Therapy
Each group is different and may be tailored to the specific mental health disorder that the participants have. Group therapy can be daily or weekly, depending on the program, and the people who participate may fluctuate.
While sessions vary, there are certain core practices that typically happen in group therapy, including:
- Shared stories and experiences related to the diagnosis shared by the group
- Encouraging an atmosphere of compassion and support
- Guidance and coping mechanisms shared by therapists
- An insured circle of privacy
Maintaining privacy is a crucial part of the group therapy process and any therapy process. It helps protect the participants, but also creates a safe space where people can share. The group leader will work to encourage this circle of privacy and an atmosphere of optimism and support.
Different Types of Group Therapy
Sometimes a doctor will create a private group for her patients or a clinic’s patients. Other groups are public, which allows anyone who may need a group session in the moment to attend. Mental health disorders addressed by group therapy include but are not limited to:
- Chronic diagnosis
- Depression or Anxiety
- Bipolar disorder
- Caregiver stress
- Eating disorders
Group Therapy for Addiction and Substance Abuse
Group therapy for addiction may be the most well-known type of group therapy. Therapy sessions designed to support those with addiction and substance abuse issues may include a 12-step program. Patients share stories about where they are on their journey through sobriety. Some may be at the beginning of their journey, while others may be well along, creating an environment that encourages maintaining perspective.
PTSD Group Therapy
Anyone who has experienced trauma may develop PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Since PTSD is a disorder that leaves patients feeling isolated, group can be especially helpful, as patients hear shared stories and learn to understand they are not alone.
Some PTSD sessions may focus on certain traumas. For example, a group session may be limited to those who have war-related PTSD. Therapists may also want to focus sessions since some traumas require specific therapeutic interventions.
Group for Those Experiencing Grief
Those going through the grieving process may need group therapy, as well. As with PTSD, group for those with grief can focus on a certain type of grief. For example, some groups may be for those who have lost a child, while others may be for those who have lost a spouse. There are also group sessions out there that address grief in a more general sense.
When a group does not exist for a specific disorder, a clinic or therapist may create one. This depends on how many patients may need a specific type of group.
Benefitting from Group Therapy
Sometimes group therapy is a way for people to benefit from therapy when they cannot necessarily afford individual therapy on a continuous basis. Group therapy can also serve as supplementary therapy to interventions such as psychotherapy or medication.
The benefit many get from group therapy is the sense that they are not alone in what they are experiencing. Hearing the shared experiences of others gives them the strength they need to start their own journey toward healing.
Those considering group therapy need not stress over the sharing element of group. Everyone can move at their own pace. Listening at first can help patients feel safe and secure enough to eventually share their own stories. As with any therapy, group therapy works best when it is designed to work for you.
Choosing a Group Therapy Group
You may find that you need to try out a group or two before you find the one that works for you. This is not uncommon. Choosing the right group sometimes takes time, but it is worth it, given how patients can benefit from the right group.
If you have questions about whether group therapy is right for you or what type of group you may need, get in touch. We will help guide you through the process of finding your ideal group.