| Peter Cook

Group Therapy – Better Together

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Introduction

This blog is part of a series about the magic of groups.    

In our previous discussion, we looked at groups in general, but in this blog, we narrow the focus and shine the light on the benefits of therapeutic groups.

 

‘Me too!’

Psychiatrists believe that these words are the foundation of psychotherapy or ‘group therapy.'

From an early age, we are taught to be bold, brave, and independent. It does not mean, however, that we must go through life’s hardships on our own. We said in our previous blog that ‘social connectedness’ benefits our mental and physical well-being and contributes to our everyday health and happiness.  

This might be what poet John Donne meant when he said: ‘No man is an island.’  In conjunction with medication or as an alternative to it, group therapy might be the answer in overcoming anxiety, panic disorders, or numerous other illnesses. There is healing when pain is shared.

Group therapy is not only good for you, but it offers shared experience (by fellow group members), support, and it provides hope for the future.

 

Group therapy and what to expect

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy where a psychologist works with several people at once.

Groups usually comprise of 4 – 10 people, who meet for about an hour and a half each week. These group meetings typically occur at a hospital, local church, community center, library, hospital, or a mental health clinic.

More often than not, a group meeting will start by each person introducing themself and explaining why they felt the need to join the group.

 

Why the need for group therapy?

As previously mentioned, group therapy can be beneficial on its own or used in conjunction with medication or individual treatment.

 

Group therapy gained popularity over the past few years due to its effectiveness in treating various mental illnesses such as depression.  It can address a wide range of issues such as substance abuse, depression, panic disorders, low self-esteem, marriage- and family problems.  

 

Different types of therapy groups

What therapy group one joins will depend on your problem or what you need help with.  Here is a short list of different types of therapy groups. There is more!   

  • Self-help groups.This is the most common and probably most effective type of therapy group. This is typically the type of group to join if you are suffering from substance abuse. Each person shares his or her experience and helps one another under the supervision of a group leader.
  • Psychotherapy groups. The therapist makes use of re-enactment here.  Members will be asked to act out portions of their life which might provoke strong emotions of the past.
  • Medication groups. These groups mainly focus on making sure that members are educated with regards to their prescribed medication, while at the same time providing support.
  • Interpersonal therapy groups. Here the focus is placed on the members’ current relationships to identify current problem areas.
  • Encounter groups. These groups are more intimate and intense than others as members are placed in uncomfortable situations in the hope of provoking change.

 

It is beneficial!

Group therapy has so many benefits.

  • Fellow group members can support and encourage you.    
  • For many, it is a safe place to share their fears and concerns.   
  • Group therapy is often free or costs much less than individual therapy.   
  • For many, it is a lifeline to see how others cope, giving them hope on their own journeys.
  • A group member feels less alone and more equipped to handle the things that life throws at them.   

 

Conclusion

If you’ve never experienced the benefits of being part of a therapeutic group, there is always a first time! People need people.   

One can even say it is Biblical! 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV) says: ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’

Maybe it is time for you to get connected and to experience the positive life changes that can happen when you join a group.    

 

Resources

https://www.apa.org/topics/group-therapy

https://www.counsellingconnection.com/index.php/2010/09/08/types-of-therapeutic-groups/

https://positivepsychology.com/group-therapy/