Group therapy is a process that many psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors utilize to help people work through problems they're experiencing. Sessions generally involving sitting down with a small group of people who have certain concerns or histories in common. The groups may also have established relationships, as occurs in family therapy, in some cases.
Who Benefits from Group Therapy?
Two classes of people typically can benefit from group sessions. First, there are folks who struggle to open up about their situations. Second, there are those who don't feel like they have anyone in their lives who understands their problems.
Those who have difficulty opening up about issues may benefit from hearing about the challenges others are dealing with. People frequently have an easier time giving advice than taking advice, and this can lead to self-reflection after the fact. Hearing their own worries come out of the mouths of other people also allows patients to appreciate that opening up isn't always the worst thing in the world.
Individuals who feel isolated can get a sense of community and belonging from a group session. For example, someone who's currently going through treatment for breast cancer can share their stories with a group of people who will often nod in recognition of situations that they themselves know about. The same applies to an array of life experiences, including PTSD from combat, substance use disorders, and surviving abuse.
One of the headwinds that therapists can encounter in individual sessions, especially using methods like talk therapy, is that the dialectic nature of conversations is sometimes perceived as adversarial. Keeping the counselor in the dark can become a reward, especially for individuals who have certain difficulties opening up.
Groups may do a better job of bringing new ideas up, too. While a therapist working from a list of questions is likely to just keep working down the list, group members may pipe in with novel ideas. It's then up to the therapist to decide whether to pull on that thread or to steer the conversation in a different direction.
By creating a small network of people, group treatment plans also allow patients to feel like their forming valued relationships with peers. It can be difficult to see a counselor as an equal, whereas a natural sense of empathy can make it easier to acknowledge a fellow patient as a peer and to see the entire session as operating on the level. If you think that you would benefit from group therapy, find a clinic like Andrea Brandt Therapy near you.