There are different approaches to psychotherapy available and finding an option that works best for you is the key to a successful outcome. Group therapy is one approach to psychotherapy that some people have found to be quite beneficial. You may have heard of group therapy and have begun to wonder if this would be a good option for you. Learning more about what group therapy entails, how it works, and what it can offer you can help you make a decision whether or not to give group therapy a try.
What should I expect from a group therapy session?
Group therapy consists of a group made up of about 5-15 patients led by a one or more psychologists. Group therapy sessions usually last about an hour or two and are usually held once a week. Some sessions may be longer and occur more frequently than others, being held a few times a week.
There are also open groups and closed groups. Open groups allow individuals to join at any time, while closed groups have their members all begin together. For some types of groups, there may also be gender restrictions, such as male-only or female-only groups.
Group therapy sessions often have a focus that the individuals in the group are working on. These focuses can include depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety, chronic pain, substance abuse, improving social skills, dealing with anger, coping with loss, and combating shyness, loneliness, and low self-esteem.
Most group therapy sessions utilize talk therapy, consisting of orally working through experiences, however some sessions provide educational lectures, workshops, support groups, expressive therapies (art, drama, poetry, dance), integrative therapies (yoga and acupuncture), and different group outings or activities.
Why Group Therapy?
Group therapy offers many benefits that can help you develop the skills necessary to improve yourself. Many psychologists agree that individuals who are skeptical about group therapy are almost always pleasantly surprised by how much they gain with the experience.
One key benefit is that working within a group that focuses on a particular issue helps you to realize that you are not alone in facing this issue. Listening to the experiences of others with the same issue also helps to put your feelings into perspective and promotes validity in the way you feel. In discussing common issues with others and offering solutions can also inspire you to find your own solutions to challenging situations.
Furthermore, the group you work within will inevitably develop a mutual sense of understanding with its members and act as a support group. Not only will you no longer feel alone in your struggles, but you will have a community of people who support you and want to see you successful. With group therapy, the other members will help hold you accountable for your actions and this extra support and encouragement can be especially helpful during tough times.
Although it may be tough to open up and discuss things that seem personal with other people, doing so will help you to have the most beneficial experience. Participation from every individual is a key element in group therapy. In fact, another benefit of group therapy is that it will help you to learn how to better put your emotions into words.
Group therapy can also provide insight on how you react and interact with others in a constructive environment. This can be especially helpful in learning how to communicate with others in a positive way. In talking to others, you will actually learn a great deal about your own habits and can then work on these habits to improve your communication skills.
Group Therapy vs. Individual Therapy:
If you are considering group therapy, you may be wondering how it compares to individual therapy. Since both types of therapy offer different structures and approaches, they have different advantages and disadvantages.
Individual therapy consists of an individual discussing issues privately with a psychologist for about an hour once a week. The main benefit of this structure is that the individual receives focused and intense psychological treatment. There is also a higher level of confidentiality at play which may allow for more comfort when sharing certain issues. Finally, the scheduling of sessions can work around an individual’s schedule and can be moved if needed to accommodate this schedule.
However, individual therapy is generally more expensive than group therapy and it only offers the perspective of one person. Although this perspective comes from a psychological expert, some individuals respond better to hearing multiple viewpoints. Furthermore, individual therapy requires and individual to participate during the entire session and this can be daunting for some. In fact, this one-on-one approach can cause some to experience a lack of motivation in revealing details, while the support of a group may help them feel more comfortable.
In some cases, people have found it beneficial to attend both individual and group therapy sessions. Not only will this provide you with the best of both worlds, but it will help you be more mindful of your mental health. Being mindful about your mental health is one of the biggest steps in overcoming mental health issues. Attending both individual and group sessions allows you to maintain focused treatment with your psychologist while also learning how to communicate with others.
Ultimately the decision of which approach to use is up to you. Only you know your individual needs and comfort level. However, don’t let this hold you back. For some people, individual therapy is the correct treatment approach, others prefer group therapy, and still others opt for a combination of the two. It may take a little trial and error to find the approach that works best for you, but the experience will help you learn more about yourself.
Want to experience a group therapy session? Visit one of the best group therapy sessions in Paramus, NJ at Family Psychiatry and Therapy. Call us today at (201)580-2524 for our latest group therapy schedule!