Group psychotherapy, also known as group therapy, is when a group of individuals meet together with a trained psychologist, therapist, or counsellor. It is a treatment that has been used widely in a variety of situations and circumstances for over 50 years. Group psychotherapy has proven to be extremely beneficial in helping individuals overcome a number of different issues.
Group psychotherapy is designed to help individuals learn more about themselves, heal from whatever it is they are suffering from, and improve relationships with others. It can help with feelings of isolation, social anxiety, generalised anxiety, and depression. Each member of the group talks about their various problems with encouragement and direction from the group leader.
Group therapy is used in a variety of different settings and can help numerous types of people. Group psychotherapy is commonly used in:
There are several benefits of group therapy. These include:
There are several types of group psychotherapy. Some of the most common types of group therapy immersion include: self-help groups, cognitive group therapy (typically used in addiction treatment and 12-step programmes), interpersonal group therapy (focusing on problems in current relationships), encounter groups (intense and rapid group interaction), and psychodrama (where the group enacts scenes from another member’s life). These different types of group therapy are used either alone or in conjunction with other types of therapy or treatment.
Group psychotherapy typically involves 1-2 psychologists, therapists, or counsellors and a group of 10-15 people. Groups usually meet once or twice a week for approximately an hour.
People in group therapy are not required to talk if they don’t wish to. All members of the group are asked to be respectful of other members feelings and be supportive if and when another member chooses to disclose personal information.
It is important that all members of group therapy feel supported by other members of the group. Generally, group members begin to trust each other more over time and develop interpersonal relationships that are marked with respect and compassion for other group members. Remembering that others are dealing with their own issues can help when worried if others are passing judgement.
While hearing the problems of others can certainly feel overwhelming, listening to others speak of their struggles can also be very helpful. One of the greatest benefits of group therapy is for individuals to realise that they are not alone in the problems they face.
Each person is different regarding the amount of time it will take them to overcome their struggles. Some may benefit from only a few sessions of group therapy while others will need longer.
Exploring Group Therapies, David W. Brook, MD, Psychiatric Times, 2003
Psychotherapy, American Psychological Association
5 Benefits of Group Therapy, Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., Psych Central, 2016