Would Group Therapy Be Helpful?

Would Group Therapy Be Helpful?

When people think of going to “therapy,” they most often think of going to someone like me for individual therapy, family therapy, or couples counseling.  While these are great therapy modalities, they can’t ever create the enormous benefits of attending group therapy.  So many of my clients see an almost immediate benefit after attending group therapy.

As a huge fan of the psychologist Brenee Brown, I subscribe to the belief that human love, belongingness, and  connectivity are essential to healing and growing.  Too often, shame and guilt lead people to isolate themselves instead of reaching out. This isolation can be toxic and can make matters even worse.  Group therapy can be a great way for people to realize that they aren’t alone in the world. Group members often realize that other members may be going through similar issues. This feeling of connectedness is something special that happens in group therapy.

3 common worries about group therapy

Dr. Alexis Conason identifies 3 reasons why people are timid about group therapy.  I think that they make a lot of sense:

  1. I don’t want to talk about my problems in front of other people.
  2. I don’t want to listen to other people’s problems
  3. I don’t have enough time to join a group.

3 benefits of group therapy

While the above concerns are common, they usually don’t end up manifesting in group therapy.  Instead, people find it comforting and helpful to sit (and sometimes share) in group therapy. Some amazing benefits of therapy include:

  1. The shame and guilt is minimized when you realize that other good people are dealing with similar issues.
  2. The insights that other group members have (and share) are often relevant/helpful to other members of the group.
  3. Group therapy is usually less expensive but still effective.

Types of group therapy

So maybe you’ve read this far and I’ve convinced you that group therapy would be something you’d look into.  Now where do you go?  You’ll need to identify which type of therapy group is right for you.  Here are 3 common types of groups:

  1. Psychoeducational Groups – These groups are more structured and there is often a facilitator that leads the group. This facilitator leads discussion, teaches skills, and helps provide the group information about topics. (examples: parenting skills group, teen social skills group)
  2. Counseling Groups – These groups are less structured. The focus is on the interpersonal process where members support and challenge each other. These groups sometimes deal with some type of personal growth (example: navigating a new school, dealing with divorce)
  3. Psychotherapy Groups – These tend to be longer groups that deal with more specific and intense psychological issues. While these groups are still heavy in the interpersonal process, the facilitator leads the group towards deeper work (example: PTSD group, anxiety group)

Additional things to consider

  1. Is the group open or closed? In an open group, different members can come and go. In a closed group, it’s the same members each week for the entirety of the experience.
  2. How many people are in the group? There are pros and cons to having a larger group or a smaller group. Small group offer you more time to talk. Larger groups may offer additional perspectives.

What is confidential?

Confidentiality is important in all therapy models.  All groups should make clear what the expectations are for confidentiality.  If you’re attending a group, you should expect the same level of confidentiality as you would in an individual session.  The same rule applies: “What is said in here, stays in here.”

Individual Therapy or Group Therapy?

Both have unique benefits should be considered. Ideally, I think that my clients would benefit from attending both individual and group therapy.  I encourage all of my clients to look into if there are good and relevant groups in their communities. 

If you live in the Winston-Salem area and believe that therapy may be beneficial to you or a loved one, contact Christopher John Counseling.  We offer a free in-person consultation where clients are given a pressure free space to explore the possibility of working on themselves through the therapeutic process. 

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