What Is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a form of therapy that treats multiple clients at once. Rather than pulling attention away from the individual, this therapy promotes socializing, communication, empathy, and connectivity. During group therapy, those in treatment are guided by one or more therapists to inspire change. Working with a group helps to improve social functioning through intentional conversations and enhances coping skills.
The first instance of group therapy on record became a success due to the impact of this experience on the members’ emotional states and willingness to discuss common problems. To gain such results from group therapy, members must actively participate. When open to it, the goal of group therapy for all members is to resolve problematic issues such as poor motivation while helping members improve social functioning and interpersonal relationship skills.
The effectiveness of group therapy is hard to argue with. For those with SUD, it has shown significant improvements in reducing the amount of substance use, lessening the familial impact of substance use and financial problems, and improving work accountability. Many people who take part in group therapy as an aspect of their treatment for SUD have reported improvements in quality of life, coping behaviors, and self-esteem. Even relapse rates were lessened for those participating in group sessions instead of only using medical and individual therapy.
Group Therapy Formatting
The format of group therapy can vary depending on the group’s theme, whether it’s SUD, anxiety, grief, or something else. Members of the group must be informed about the purpose of the group. While members meet for group discussions, they should know the intent and guidelines.
Group therapy is based on the idea of relatability and no judgment. All members should be respectful, punctual, and aware of ensuring confidentiality. These ideals should be brought up to members at the beginning of each session as some groups are open to new members and others are closed, with the same people each time.
Goals and Benefits
Group therapy differs depending on the goal of the sessions. Some group therapy sessions are support groups, while others are more active in making behavioral changes. The most common goals of group therapy for those with mental health disorders or SUD are:
- Understanding the elements of group therapy and that it can increase the chance of participants benefiting from treatment
- Recognizing the progress of issues
- Managing any issues disrupting the group therapy process
- Realizing the importance of interpersonal, collaborative skills
- Facilitating growth in comfort and function within the group
- Observing enhancement to all members’ lives outside of sessions, including behavior corrections, development of relationship skills, education, and applications of coping skills
Group therapy will differ based on its members, who runs the group, and its main concepts. Regardless, the possible benefits of group therapy will always include the following:
- Realizing that others share similar thoughts, feelings, and issues
- Improving self-concept by assisting other patients
- Instilling hope through witnessing the growth and progress of other members
- Gaining knowledge from the provider and other members
- Learning effective and proper ways to interact with others
- Gaining new insight and understanding through the observation of other group members
- Experiencing positive feelings of support, trust, and belonging
- Taking accountability for decisions
- Sharing personal experiences
- Gaining respect for others through listening and getting feedback