Looking for therapy options? Group therapy may be exactly what you need
Therapy has continued as a source of comfort for Americans amid the pandemic, with nearly 30% saying they’ve seen a therapist during the crisis and 19% are considering it, according to the most recent ValuePenguin poll.
If you are interested in mental health or substance use treatment for yourself or someone you love, being educated about the benefits of different types of treatment is a great start.
Breaking Common Misconceptions of Group Therapy
- Misconception: “I will be forced to tell all of my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets to the group.”
- The fact is, you control what, how much and when you share with the group. As a group member, the support of people sharing the same or similar experiences you are can be very affirming. Listening to others will also help, as some of what they say might also apply to you.
- Misconception: “Group counseling will take longer than individual counseling because I will have to share the time with others.”
- Group therapy is often more efficient than individual therapy. You can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little but listen to others. You will find that you have much in common with other group members, and as they work on a concern you might learn more about yourself. Similarly, group members will often bring up issues that strike a chord with you, but that you might not have been aware of or brought up yourself.
- Misconception: “I will be verbally attacked by the leaders and by other group members.”
- It is very important that group members feel safe. Group leaders are there to help develop a safe environment. Criticism is often difficult for people to handle appropriately. As group members come to trust and accept one another, they generally come to view feedback and even confrontation as positives.
- One of the benefits of group therapy is the opportunity to receive feedback from others in a supportive environment. It is rare to find friends who will gently point out how you might be behaving in ways that hurt yourself or others, but this is precisely what group counseling can offer.
- Misconception: “I have so much trouble talking to people, I’ll never be able to share in a group.”
- Most people are anxious about the idea of sharing with a group. Almost without exception, within a few sessions, people find that they do eventually talk in the group. Becoming comfortable speaking with others in a safe, group setting, may help your relationships with others and other aspects of your life.
Who is Group Therapy for?
One objective of group therapy is to bring people together who share similar experiences – for example, with mental illnesses or substance use disorders. Most commonly, group members are seeking treatment for anxiety, depression, panic, grief, chronic pain, anger management or substance abuse. But this is not near an inclusive list of conditions which group therapy can be beneficial.
What Can I Expect?
Through group therapy, you can see the instillation of hope. Most groups have members at different stages of their treatment. Seeing others progress and have success in treatment can have positive outcomes for those who are just starting.
Sharing one’s struggles and receiving feedback and group members expressing their similar experiences brings universality. The knowledge you are not alone in this.
When group members share their experience, strengths and hope, those members also get rewarded with a sense of altruism and improved self-esteem.
A good therapist will promote feedback on your interactions with others. This is a great way to build or refine your socialization skills and interpersonal learning. For example, you may not have realized that, when a particular member speaks, you cross your arms and look away. Reflecting this behavior others see, that you may be doing unconsciously, may lead you to exploring deeper issues.
Having an outlet like group therapy can provide catharsis. Sharing about feelings, experiences and pain can be a relief.
Ultimately, group members gain a sense of self-reliance that comes through learning and practicing in a safe space how to control your behaviors, actions and choices.