At first, the idea of joining a therapy group may seem intimidating. You are probably considering whether or not it is right for you and whether or not it will make you feel better. All you are thinking of is, ‘why on earth would I share my story with strangers?
In fact, you are probably weighing therapy groups against individual therapy. You don’t know which is right for you. Not too worry, all your questions would be answered in this article. We would be showing you why therapy groups are important and effective.
WHAT ARE THERAPY GROUPS?
A Therapy Group is a form of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists working with several people at the same time. Therapy groups usually consist of a small group of no more than 15 participants and 1-2 group leaders, usually therapists. This small groups meet 1-2 times a week to discuss on different issues.
Many groups are designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety, Relationship problems, chronic pain, or substance abuse. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, or helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness, and low self-esteem.
Therapy groups have been proven to be as effective as individual therapy. However, there are speculations that therapy groups are more effective than individual therapy. An article published in the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology suggests that group therapy also meets efficacy standards established by the Society of Clinical Psychology (Division 12 of the APA) for panic disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, and substance abuse.
How Does Therapy Groups Work?
Therapy Groups are made up of a group of six to twelve participants lead by 1-2 therapists. In many cases, the group will meet in a room where the chairs are arranged in a large circle so that each member can see every other person in the group. A session might begin with members of the group introducing themselves and sharing why they are in group therapy. Members might also share their experiences and progress since the last meeting.
Members listen to each other and openly provide each other feedback. These interactions give members an opportunity to increase understanding, try out new ways of being with others and learn more about the ways they interact.
The content of the group sessions is confidential; members agree not to identify other members or their concerns outside of group.
The manner in which each session is conducted is dependent on the goal of the group therapy. Some therapist may encourage a free-style dialogue form where members participates as he or she fits while other therapists instead have a specific plan for each session that might include having members practice new skills among themselves.
REASONS WHY THERAPY GROUPS ARE IMPORTANT
The reasons why therapy groups are important and you may need to join one include;
1. It provides a Safe Haven
Therapy groups provide members with a sense of belonging. It provides a safe environment where you can be yourself, say how you feel without fear of being judged or misunderstood.
You feel free to express your feelings because everyone in the group understands where you are coming from. There is enough room to be yourself. Therapy Groups can also be a safe space to try new strategies by role playing without being judged.
2. It provides opportunity to learn from others
Therapy groups create an avenue for you to listen to others and gain perspective from them. When you listen to people talk about their struggles and problems, it helps you gain a little perspective of your own struggles.
It helps you see that there’s hope because other people have gone through the same circumstance and survived. Many people feel they are somehow weird or strange because of their problems or the way they feel; it is encouraging to hear that other people have similar difficulties, and can grow past them.
Moreover, hearing from other people about how you come across after sharing an experience can be very powerful. You get a wider range of perspectives on your situation, and that can help you deal with your problems better.
3. It provides a support system
Therapy groups facilitates giving and receiving support. Both of these notions are important in treatment. Receiving support from others is part of the bonding or therapeutic alliance that occurs in groups, whereas giving support to others allows for growth and learning.
You can get advice and support from others who have been in your shoes without the fear of being judged by someone who doesn’t understand. Hearing from others with similar issues helps you see that you’re not alone in having challenges.
4. It offers opportunity to learn social skills
Therapy groups offers members opportunity to develop communication and socialization skills. Therapy groups not only help to ease that sense of isolation, but also give the opportunity to practice re-engaging with people. By participating in a group, you see that you can get along with others.
You get to make new connections and build healthy relationships. A natural process of enhanced acceptance of self and others occurs as one learns to relate more honestly and directly with others in the group.
5. Group members serve as role models.
In the group environment, others serve as mirrors that reflect aspects of yourself that you can recognize and explicitly choose if you want to modify or change. By watching how others handle their struggles, you begin to realize that there is hope for recovery.
For Instance, hearing how other members successfully overcame their fear of flying or how they confronted a family member over drug abuse can be very encouraging. People often push themselves harder when they see what others are doing.
As each member progresses, they can, in turn, serve as a role model and support figure for others. This can help foster feelings of success and accomplishment. Modeling is a form of learning where individuals learn by copying or imitating the actions of others.
THERAPY GROUPS VS INDIVIDUAL THERAPY
Therapy groups are different from individual therapy in a number of ways, with the most obvious difference being the number of people in the room with the therapist.
Individual therapy is also a form of psychotherapy where one individual is involved in the therapeutic process with at least one therapist. The individual receives one-on-one attention from the therapist, and this allows the therapist to be very thorough in understanding the specific problems of the client and in developing an individualized approach to helping him or her.
Research on the effectiveness of these therapy groups has shown that the group experience benefited people in many ways that were not always addressed in individual psychotherapy. Likewise, it was also discovered that some people did not benefit from group therapy.
Therapy Groups are often the most effective method to treat some of the types of concerns that individuals face. A common myth is that groups are somehow second-rate treatment. Group therapy is recommended when your counselor believes that it is the best way to address your concerns.
It is normal for you to experience some initial discomfort over the thought of talking in group. This anxiety is quite normal as most people have never been exposed to a group therapy environment and don’t know what to expect. The first few sessions may feel awkward but you get comfortable with time.
In therapy groups, you learn that you are not alone in experiencing psychological adjustment problems, and you can experiment with trying to relate to people differently in a safe environment, with a therapist present to assist as needed.
The main goal of group therapy is to help people work on changing a part of their life that’s causing them major problems.
Additionally, therapy groups allows you to learn from the experiences of others with similar problems, and also allows you to better understand how people very different from yourself view the world and interact with people.
Of course, there are many other differences between therapy groups and individual therapy. Many people are anxious about participating in any therapy group, because they don’t want other people to know about their problems. Members are told not to discuss information shared in the group with others, and usually the need for mutual confidentiality preserves the privacy of the information.
If you’re feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or anxious and could use a little extra support, we have experienced counsellors, therapist and psychologist at Mentor Mental Minds who are committed to help you out. We also provide therapy group services for all age types and for various problems.