Group Therapy: Can It Help You?
by Amy Scholten, MPH
Are you looking for therapy with extra benefits? Group therapy is an alternative to one-on-one sessions with a therapist. It lets people work through their problems by sharing common issues in a group. Just like other counseling, it is confidential. The extra benefit is getting support from others. Group therapy can help people feel less alone in their struggles.
In general, group sessions may consist of up to 15 people. They are led by a trained psychotherapist. Group therapy can be used for many conditions or situations.
It is natural to feel uneasy when talking about your problems to strangers. However, group therapy may be easier than you think. Therapists encourage group members to be trusting, open, and helpful.
Is Group Therapy for You?
Group therapy often focuses on a certain problem. Examples are:
Members often find the group helpful in many ways. They get support for taking steps and reaching goals. They can share common feelings. Most importantly, they can do these things in a nonjudgmental setting.
If you are considering group therapy, talk to a therapist first. The therapist can advise what may be best for you.
A support group is an option for some people. However, this is not the same as group therapy. A support group leader does not have to be a therapist. Members give each other general support. But the group does not focus on improving behavior patterns.
What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy?
In a therapy group, members are given support and coaching. They learn new ways to cope. Group therapy can help you:
There are many benefits to group therapy. However, it differs from one-on-one therapy. One-on-one therapy is completely focused on you. In group therapy, you do not get as much individual attention.
What Happens in the Session?
Therapists guide the session. They may encourage group members to talk. They use various methods to develop trust and sharing. For example, they may use team activities, cooking, art, or drama. Role playing may also be used. This helps people learn to work out their problems in a healthy way.
How Long Does Group Therapy Last?
Groups are often held for a set number of weeks. Some people will stay in a group for a year. Others may attend for a few months. It depends on what you need or want from the group.
Before you join a group, be sure it meets your needs. Ask how it works. Some good questions are:
How Much Does It Cost?
Group therapy often costs less than one-on-one sessions. Discuss payment before you start a group. Some insurance providers cover group therapy. Others will pay only for one-on-one sessions.
If money is an issue, ask about sliding-scale payment. The cost may be lowered based on your income.
How Do You Find a Qualified Group Therapist?
Find a therapist that is licensed to work in your state. Look for someone with a master's degree in counseling or social work, or a doctorate in psychology. Ask your doctor for a referral. You can also do an online search for group therapy.
When choosing a therapist, look for one who:
If a therapist does not do these things, find someone else.
You may have concerns about group therapy. Talk to your therapist before starting the group. This will help make your group experience a positive one. At first, it may be hard to share your feelings with others. However, group therapy can promote healthy change. It can give you valuable insight into your life.
American Psychological Association
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychological Association
Discover the advantages of group therapy. Appalachian State University website. Available at: https://counseling.appstate.edu/pagesmith/158. Accessed June 25, 2021.
Group therapy. Group Therapy website. Available at: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/modes/group-therapy. Accessed June 25, 2021.
Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. American Psychological Association website. Available at: https://www.apa.org/topics/psychotherapy/understanding. Accessed June 25, 2021.
Last reviewed June 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
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