There are many reasons why an individual may seek group therapy services. Some may have a difficult time dealing with daily life stressors. Adjusting to changes that life brings, such as medical or mental health problems, may not be easy. Adapting to new environments and confronting life transitions can be difficult.
Others may have problems facing the challenges associated with substance abuse or mental illness. Confusion about gender identity or sexual orientation can also lead to depression or anxiety. These are just a few reasons why someone could take advantage of group therapy.
Group therapy comes with many mental health benefits and can provide many opportunities to improve an individual’s life. Discussing what challenges a person most in a group setting can involve a lot of support, collaboration, and accountability.
What Is Group Therapy?
As stated by authors Akshay Malhotra and Jeff Baker in the 2022 publication Group Therapy, group therapy is a therapeutic modality that uses one or more health care professionals to facilitate healing with several clients at once. Clients learn, develop, and practice coping strategies for the challenges involved in their mental health alongside others who have similar struggles. This allows individuals to improve their interpersonal skills and build a positive and supportive network of peers.
Group therapy can be specific to several different mental health conditions such as:
- Various anxiety disorders
- Emotional trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Substance use disorder (SUD)
- Eating disorders
- Chronic pain
Benefits of Group Therapy
According to the aforementioned study, group therapy provides many advantages to each client. An individual begins to realize that other people share similar feelings, thoughts, and issues as they do. A client gradually gains knowledge and new skills from other group participants and the professional leading the group. Members of the group can benefit from learning group dynamics in a mediated setting.
New social skills are developed over time in group therapy. Through the observation of other group fellows, individuals may gain new insight and a positive perspective of their situation in relation to their surroundings.
Spending time in a group setting can be very supportive. Feelings of trust and belonging can make it easier for a client to open up. Hearing others share their struggles and triumphs helps the individual listening gain a sense of solidarity and hope.
Working with others can also give the client a broad safety net to open up about their history and present situation. Receiving feedback from others can encourage new opportunities through brainstorming as a group. Sharing similar reasons that lead each person to treatment can help participants learn about resources or techniques that have been helpful for others.
Individual Therapy Vs. Group Therapy
As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, approximately 19.2% of adults in the United States received mental health treatment in the past year. About 9.5% of adults received therapy from a mental health care provider. According to a recent study, participants received fewer therapy services as they age.
Although group therapy provides a safe controlled environment to express thoughts and feelings, the client still is sharing their personal story with several other people. The client must trust and understand that others may or may not keep their name and story to themselves after each session.
On the other hand, individual therapy can give the client full privacy and the ability to confidentially express their feelings. This level of confidentiality may make it easier for some individuals to open up. However, if there is no one to relate to, they may still feel alone and out of place as there is no peer interaction with individual therapy.
Both forms of therapy have their pros and cons. For example, individual therapy can be expensive whereas group therapy is typically more cost-effective. Group therapy provides the client with much more support. Working in groups and making new connections can also give the client something to look forward to. Again, though, individual therapy can make people feel more comfortable opening up, and the professional’s advice can be more specific and targeted.
Gaining the Most From Each Session
In brief, group therapy is an effective form of treatment. This type of therapy gives the client the ability to learn new strategies alongside others. Group therapy helps each client cope with many different mental health conditions.
To gain the most out of group therapy, individuals must pay attention, learn different ways to give polite feedback, be willing to accept commentary from others, and be as open as possible. Taking risks by sharing one’s unique story can lead to new opportunities and new learning strategies. Accepting support from others allows one to stay motivated. People only get as much out of group therapy as they’re willing to put into it. Therefore, individuals must commit to being fully engaged to get the most from each session.
Group therapy has been shown to be highly effective for those recovering from substance use and mental health disorders. Here at 12 South Recovery, individuals will gain accountability and improve their relationship skills with each session. This contributes to their long-term success and growth. Peer interaction can provide a safety net for clients who are in need of additional support. As a licensed and Joint Commission-accredited mental health treatment center, 12 South Recovery is a leader in Orange County mental health treatment. Our team cares about your success and can personalize your time with us. If you or a loved one is seeking professional help, call us today at 866-839-6876 for more information.