Group therapy is a type of psychotherapy where a trained clinician works with more than one individual, often between five and fifteen people at a time. A group meeting can last anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half, continue for a few weeks to a year or more, and the commonality can vary widely, from something broad like managing stress or loneliness, to something specific like substance use issues or eating disorders.
At first, group therapy may seem inconvenient, impersonal or even daunting. We may think, “Why should I waste my time listening to other people’s problems?” We may wonder, “Why do I need to attend a group on top of my individual appointments? I don’t have that much time to spare.” We may even say deep inside, “I’m too ashamed to share my problems with anyone else,” and it’s okay to feel this way.
However, there can be a huge amount to gain from group therapy. It is an integral part of many treatment programs for a reason, and many find that it improves their lives significantly; in fact, some even say it saved their lives.
Here are just a few of the many ways that you can benefit from group therapy.
When you’re dealing with something, you may think you’re the only one feeling the way you do, but when others in the group share in return, you may often realize that there are others who have gone through the same thing in the past, or who are going through it right now along with you. They are there to support you through it and let you know that you’re not alone.
Groups give you the opportunity to speak openly and honestly about your feelings among others who understand. Sometimes, you may not feel comfortable sharing with those you’re closest to; they may not understand or empathize. In a group, it’s often the case that the other members can relate. You can share without judgement and with anonymity.
It’s been said that a group is like a container, whatever you put into it, it can hold for you. Being able to verbalize certain thoughts and feelings can make them feel less powerful. It can be cathartic to release them into a safe space with no consequence or judgement.
Groups can also help improve certain important skills, like being able to cope with challenges, being able to open up about your emotions, the ability to make friends or the ability to speak in a group setting. At times, other members may share how they dealt with something, and it helps you figure out a solution to what you’re going through. Other times, from an outside perspective, they may be able to see something in your situation that you’re unable to see.
Whether we’re isolated by our job, our nature or by this pandemic, human beings still crave social interaction, and being able to find it in a safe space, among others who understand, is a great way to ensure these interactions are not only meaningful, but gainful and supportive.
If you’re struggling to work through certain emotions or dealing with mental health issues, or if your doctor or therapist has recommended that you attend group therapy, it might be time to consider taking the leap.
At Ethos Behavioral Health Group healing centers throughout Texas and Illinois, we offer group therapy sessions and support groups centered around a variety of different issues, emotions or skills. Our groups are facilitated by master’s-level clinicians and offered both in-person and virtually, at no extra cost. Tap here to learn about our recent offerings.