What is Group Therapy?
What is group therapy?
Group psychotherapy is an effective form of therapy in which a small number of people meet together under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist to help themselves and one another. There are many different approaches to group therapy but they share in common creating a safe, supportive, and cohesive space to address personal, relationship and societal issues.
Who can benefit from group therapy?
Group therapy can benefit people of different ages, sexual orientations, gender identities, and race, cultural and ethnic backgrounds who want help with specific concerns, such as depression, anxiety, serious medical illness, loss, addictive disorders, or behavioral challenges. In addition, group can benefit those seeking self-development by providing a safe environment in which to learn and grow.
How does group work?
Group therapy provides a place where you come together with others to share problems or concerns, to better understand your own situation, and to learn from and with each other. Under the leadership of a therapist, you will learn about yourself and improve your relationships with other people. You will gain self-understanding and skills for dealing with your concerns. In a typical session, which lasts about 60-120 minutes, members work to express their own challenges and aspirations, feelings, ideas, and reactions as freely and honestly as possible. Groups are held both in-person and online, and you can speak with the therapist about what they offer. Members learn not only to understand themselves and their own issues but also become therapeutic helpers for other group members.
If someone is in a group, do they also need individual therapy?
Group therapy may be used as the primary treatment approach, or it can be used along with individual therapy. Talk to your therapist about what will best meet your needs.
How is group therapy different from support groups and self-help groups?
Group therapy is different from support and self-help groups in that it not only helps people cope with their problems but also provides opportunities for change and growth. Group therapy focuses on relationships, helping you learn how to get along better with other people under the guidance of a trained professional. In contrast, support groups, which may or may not have professional leadership, help people cope with difficult situations but are usually geared toward alleviating symptoms, rather than addressing underlying patterns. Similarly, self-help groups usually focus on a particular shared symptom or situation and are usually not led by a trained therapist.
What makes group therapy unique and powerful?
We live and interact with people every day, and often there are concerns that other people are experiencing or grappling with that can be beneficial to share with others. In group therapy, you learn that perhaps you’re not alone or as different as you think. You’ll meet and interact with people, and give and share helpful feedback; the whole group learns to work together on common problems — one of the most beneficial aspects of group therapy.
The group is a microcosm of the macro world in which we live, and as society undergoes change, the nature of human interaction is also changing. The group provides a space to process the impact of change to our internal and external environments as we replicate our large world experiences in the small group. In group, one can expect to experience the confluence of race, class, and gender; the effects of the present as well as the past will be felt. The group space helps one to explore and define how one shows up in these spheres.
Will there be people with similar concerns in my group?
The therapist’s role is to evaluate each person prior to forming the group. Usually, there is a mix of people who can learn from each other. While some group members will have similar circumstances to you, it’s not necessary for all to be dealing with exactly the same problem. In fact, people with different strengths and difficulties are often in the best position to help one another.
What if I’m uncomfortable with others in my group?
It is normal to have questions or concerns about joining a group. What am I going to get out of this? Will there be enough time to deal with my own problems in a group setting? What if I don’t like the people in my group? What if I’m uncomfortable discussing my problems in front of others? Some people feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a group, but they soon begin to develop feelings of trust and belonging. Most people find that group therapy provides a great deal of relief because it allows them a chance to talk with others in a private, confidential setting.
What kind of commitment do I need to make?
The time commitment depends on the type of group and the nature and extent of your goals. Short-term groups that are devoted to concrete issues can last anywhere from 4 to 20 sessions. Some groups are open-ended; you work at your own pace and leave when your goals have been met. Talk with your therapist to determine the length of time that’s right for you.
What does group therapy cost? Is it covered by insurance?
Typically, group therapy is less costly than individual therapy; it may also vary depending on the type of group and the area of the country you live in. Most insurance covers both group and individual therapy.
How do I find a good group therapist?
Group psychotherapists are mental health professionals who are trained in one of several areas: psychiatry, psychology, social work, psychiatric nursing, marriage and family therapy, pastoral counseling, creative arts therapy, occupational therapy, professional counselors, or substance abuse counseling. When considering a therapist for group, make sure they are properly trained and credentialed in group therapy.
In addition to referrals from your local health care provider, you can reach out to the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) for names of therapists in your area. Professional group therapists have received special training in group therapy and meet certain professional standards. The International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists certifies professionals as Certified Group Psychotherapists (CGPs) those who have met specific training and educational criteria for group therapy, as well as ongoing continuing education requirements.
What do I ask the group therapist?
- When talking with therapists, here are four simple questions you may want to ask.
- What is your background?
- Given my specific situation, how do you think group would work for me?
- What are your credentials as a group therapist?
- Do you have special training that is relevant to my problem?”