It follows that groups are realistic settings for solving real-life problems. And that includes groups in the therapy setting.
In group therapy, one or two professional therapists help several people with similar problems—such as anxiety, addiction or illness—work through those problems as a group.
Some groups function as support groups. For example, process-oriented groups meet to learn more about themselves and their relationships. Other groups focus on developing skills like managing emotions, overcoming stress, or recovering from addiction.
What all psychotherapy groups have in common is people coming together, with the leadership of a group therapist, to work on ways to improve their lives.
What are some compelling reasons to try group therapy?
A disheartening feature of the problems we face in life is the thought that we are alone in our sadness, anger, or frustration. After all, each of us is unique.
But although our circumstances may differ, we are not alone in our struggle to be healthy. We all worry. Many of us believe we’re inadequate or incompetent. We feel isolated or alienated. And we all have secrets.
Group therapy teaches you that you’re not alone. Suffering, even wretchedness, is shared. Others feel the way you do.
But meeting other people with problems like yours not only helps you realize you’re not alone, it exposes you to different styles and experiences so you can see how others work through their problems.
Sometimes the problem is a life event, like a loss. A grief support group can help you survive and heal. Other groups deal with mental health disorders, such as anxiety.
Coming together with others eases your feelings of isolation. Participating lets you practice engaging with people. And if you’re in the dark about why your relationships don’t seem to work, honest feedback from group members can show you how you’re relating to them in that moment.
In group counseling, you learn about habits and patterns that affect your skill at relating to others. If you have trouble speaking up, you can practice assertive communication. If setting boundaries is a problem, you can practice in the group with their support and cooperation.
Groups provide opportunities to learn that you have different choices.
For example, acceptance and encouragement in a group setting can help you conquer your fear of rejection. Group members can point out that you’re apologizing too much. Or if you habitually avoid conflict, you can learn ways to disagree respectfully by observing and participating in a group.
Group therapy provides both support and challenges. When a group member learns new relationship behavior, they feel validated by the group. This validation makes transferring the practice to their relationships outside the group more likely.
Everybody has a story to tell. Having someone listen and validate what you’ve experienced is empowering. Group therapy encourages members to support each other and to turn to others for support.
When group members listen to a member who is lonely and doesn’t know how to make friends, that person feels less isolated. When they share their own experiences with loneliness, they offer encouragement, suggestions, and hope.
Telling your story helps create a new narrative. One in which you move through adversity and improve your life.
Hearing someone else describe how they overcame a challenge, like confronting a friend about drug abuse or overcoming a fear of heights, can encourage you to meet your challenges and face your fears.
Watching other people succeed is a spur to push yourself harder.
Group counseling and the support and encouragement you get for yourself and provide for others motivates you to change. Having a group of cheerleaders is positive reinforcement for working toward your goals.
Whether your goal is to learn to trust others, to set boundaries, to practice assertiveness, to overcome an addiction, or to improve your relationships, group therapy gives you the opportunity to see your effect on others. Group counseling lets you experiment with new behaviors, receive honest and supportive feedback, and grow more aware of your impact on others.
And it provides an effective setting for learning healthy behavior in a welcoming environment.
Group psychotherapy may be the preferred option for you!