Blog Post

22 August 2018

How Does Group Therapy Work?

One of the most common myths about therapy is that it’s only for people with mental disorders, or those struggling with trauma. But really, therapy isn’t just for people who “need” it. It can benefit everyone, even perfectly happy, healthy people; the ultimate goal of therapy is to help you become a more productive, better version of yourself.

Group therapy is a great way to accomplish that goal within a community of like-minded individuals. Not only will you have the support of a group leader, you’ll also be able to draw comfort and insight from those around you. This method of therapy is a wonderful way to work on bettering yourself, and is in fact one of the highest-impact therapeutic methodologies. But how exactly does it work?

What is Group Therapy?

Popular culture may have led you to think of therapy as sprawling on a couch and being asked to talk about your childhood while a stone-faced therapist scribbles on his notepad, but that’s not it at all! There are several different options when it comes to seeking therapy. While individual therapy is a helpful way to unload your worries and learn to cope with different issues, group therapy can provide a safe environment in which you can learn about yourself through others.

Group therapy sessions consist of anywhere from five to 15 individuals led by a psychiatrist, meeting for about once a week. Groups might focus on specific topics each session and ask members to share their experiences. Each individual in the group has the opportunity to interact with others and receive feedback. The environment is safe and controlled. You don’t have to worry about getting lost in the shuffle and losing out on your opportunity to speak—your therapist will lead the group discussion in a way that will help everyone and allow whoever wants to speak the opportunity.

Each session might focus on a different topic, but the ultimate goal is to help the entire group share their thoughts, fears, experiences, and vulnerabilities in a safe and open setting. By participating in group therapy, you’ll find yourself connected to like-minded individuals who are all there with the same goal of healing, learning, and bettering themselves.

Types of Group Therapy

Group therapy is an effective way to treat a whole host of issues, and also simply a way for a healthy individual to better understand him or herself. Groups can focus on a certain mental or physical issue like anxiety, depression, anger-management, obesity, or drug addiction. There are also specific groups available for people who are dealing with trauma, from the death of a child to a parent with cancer. In this respect, some groups can function as a support network to connect people dealing with specific challenges.

The most important takeaway from the vast number of available groups and the range of issues they deal with is that you are never alone in your suffering. No matter what you’re going through, you can find solace and develop your self-awareness within a community of people who are seeking to do the same.

Benefits of Group Therapy

Group therapy may seem counterintuitive at first. How are you supposed to get to know yourself when you’re surrounded by other people? Isn’t the whole point of therapy for your therapist to focus on you and you alone? Why bother sharing?

Unlike individual therapy, in which patients interact directly and solely with their therapist, group therapy allows patients to learn about themselves through close interactions with others. The therapist acts largely as the facilitator in these sessions. Group therapy sessions often leave participants with a sense of mutual altruism, catharsis, belonging, existential agency, and more developed social skills.

Another positive benefit of group therapy is the chance to let someone else put your thoughts into words. Complex emotions can be isolating and difficult to express, especially for those dealing with issues like anxiety. In a group therapy setting, you might find yourself shocked when another member shares an opinion or experience that perfectly explains your own feelings.

Get to Know Yourself Through Group or Individual Therapy

At Family Psychiatry of North Jersey, we’re proud to offer therapy options for both individuals and groups. Whether you’re dealing with a mental disorder like depression, or working to manage a social issue like divorce, or even just dealing with everyday responsibilities, you can feel at ease with an individual therapist or become part of a compassionate, empathetic therapy group. Feel free to call us with any questions, and let us help you start getting to know yourself on a deeper level.