Understanding Group Therapy
If you’re considering psychotherapy, there are lots of options available. One of these options is group therapy. Joining a group may sound intimidating at first, but group members are almost always surprised by how rewarding the group experience can be.
What should I expect?
Group therapy involves one or more psychologists who lead a group of roughly five to fifteen clients. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week or fortnight. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only.
How will I benefit?
- By sharing experiences in a safe and confidential setting, group members talk about gaining hope for themselves, and often experience feeling a sense of connection and belonging. This is an important benefit of group therapy – few people speak openly about their mental health difficulties to people they don’t know very well. It can be a relief to hear what others are going through and realise you’re not alone.
- Groups also often act as an informal support network and a sounding board. You’ll benefit from listening to other’s experiences, and regularly talking and listening can also help to put your own difficulties into perspective. You will also empower yourself by sharing your own experiences in a non-judgemental, safe space. Other people in the group are likely to hold you accountable along the way.
- Diversity is another significant benefit of group therapy. You are likely to meet a broad cross section of people in the group, perhaps more than you might do in your everyday life. This diversity helps to engender new ideas and different ways of thinking or being that you might not otherwise experience.
- Lastly, groups are more affordable than individual therapy. Many people find it’s helpful to participate in both group therapy and individual therapy, helping to ‘accelerate’ the work that you do with your individual therapist.
What does the Psychotherapist do?
While group members are the most valuable sources of support, formal group therapy sessions offer benefits beyond informal self-help and support groups. The psychotherapist is will provide expert guidance to help make the most of your group therapy experience. They will carefully and gently guide the discussion and the group, suggest practical, engaging and fun ways to explore specific topics and offer proven strategies or theories for managing specific problems. They may also introduce expert knowledge and psycho-education when appropriate.