Group therapy is hosted in a group setting with one or more therapists and various clients. It occurs in spaces like private practices, hospitals, and community centers. In addition, it can supplement individual therapy or act as a stand-alone mental health treatment.
This article will discuss how effective group therapy is and provide everything you need to know about this practice.
What Types of Group Therapy Are There?
Some common types of group therapy include:
- Cognitive behavioral groups: these groups identify and change inaccurate or distorted thought patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors.
- Interpersonal groups: these groups center on interpersonal relationships and social interactions, focusing on how much support you have from other people and the impact certain relationships have on your mental health.
- Psychoeducational groups: these groups educate clients about their disorders and mental health conditions and find ways of coping.
- Skills development groups: these groups aim to improve social skills in people with mental health conditions or developmental disabilities.
- Support groups: these groups offer a variety of benefits for people with different mental health conditions and their loved ones.
How Does Group Therapy Work?
Therapy groups have about 12 members or so and meet for one to two hours, ideally every week. The group members and leaders sit in a configuration where everyone can see each other. The therapists act as a guide and provide structure for the group.
Depending on the group, they can be open or closed. An open group is where members can join any time, while a closed group has a specific start and end date.
Groups are generally organized around a specific shared issue. For example, group members may live with a specific mental health condition, like anxiety.
Like other therapies, whatever is mentioned in group therapy is confidential, with some exceptions. Group members will need to respect other group members’ privacy by not disclosing who they are or talking about what happens in sessions outside of the group. In addition, members will likely not socialize or contact each other outside the group setting.
Why Choose Group Therapy?
Much evidence shows the effectiveness of group therapy in treating various mental health disorders. It offers a supportive, shared experience and thoughts of others, along with those of a professional.
During a group session, people are encouraged to share their experiences and understand themselves better in a compassionate environment.
Research has also proven that groups are as effective as individual therapy, featuring the following positive benefits:
- Allowing people to express their authentic selves in front of other people without judgment
- Participants can develop altruism
- Groups offer hope when others progress
- They pass on knowledge
- Groups can help people develop more understanding through observing how negative past experiences may have impacted their current feelings
- They feature social interactions
- Members of the group can display healthy behaviors and attachments
- Being a part of a group fosters a sense of safety
- Participants can learn from each other, understand their feelings better and have positive interactions
What are Some Benefits of Group Therapy?
Even though some people may be nervous about receiving treatment with other people, group work can offer significant benefits. For instance, group therapy provides participants with a support system and a way to hold each other accountable. It can also cause everyone to challenge each other in an effective way and discover insight into coping with difficult situations.
In addition, group therapy can provide more perspective and experience relief when you can relate to others and feel less alone. Finally, when other group members see individuals struggling in similar ways make positive changes in their lives, it can inspire optimism and make them want to accomplish similar things.
What is the Effectiveness of Group Therapy?
According to recent research studies, group therapy is effective in various contexts for many mental health conditions. For example, group therapy can be an effective treatment for depression. According to a study from 2014, researchers learned what happened when people with depression received group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). They determined that 44% of the patients had significant improvements. However, the dropout rate for group treatment was higher, as nearly one in five patients quit this treatment.
In addition, an article in the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology found that group therapy meets efficacy standards by the Society of Clinical Psychology (Division 12 of the APA) for various mental health conditions. These include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Social phobia
- Substance use disorder
Research has also found that group therapy can improve other mental health conditions, including:
- Social anxiety disorder
- Domestic violence or abuse
- General anxiety
- Eating disorders
How to Get Started
If you think group therapy is an excellent option for you or someone you know, you can start with the following:
- Talk to a physician to find the best group therapy options for your mental health condition.
- Think about your preferences, like if you want an open or closed group or if you want to explore it online or in-person.
- Speak with your health insurance company to find out if they cover group therapy.
Another essential fact to consider is whether group therapy will be enough for you on its own or whether you want to undergo individual treatment at the same time. The best option is to discuss with your primary care physician or other mental health professionals to determine what will work best for you in your unique situation.
Many types of therapy can be effective for mental health treatment options. Group therapy has been proven to help people in various ways and can be an excellent way to build community by identifying with people struggling with similar issues.
If you are a mental health provider running therapy groups, be sure to sign up for our database at LGBTQ and ALL so you can find patients looking to improve their mental health in a group setting.