Group Therapy: Definition, Types, Techniques, and Efficacy

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Sarvika Aggarwal

08 February 2024

7 Mins

Group therapy is a type of psychotherapy wherein one or more therapists work with a bunch of people on their individual journeys of self-healing. This type of therapy is usually conducted in clinics, private hospitals, or by private practitioners.

This therapy is usually suggested as part of a treatment plan by therapists and is also open to anyone wishing to seek support in a group setting. Moreover, group therapy can also be taken with individual therapy, if needed, for added support.

group therapy is a type of psychotherapy

What Is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is led by two or more mental health professionals to assist people in navigating through life's difficulties with the help of others who share similar experiences. This is usually done in specific categories to target a similar set of people, eg: people suffering from alcoholism or drug abuse.

The good thing about group therapy is that you do not feel lonely and are able to relate other people’s experiences to your own and learn from them. Group therapy is mostly designed to address a specific issue like anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. However, there are also groups where the aim is to become self-aware and focus on personal development.

All-in-all, group counseling is like individual therapy but with more people to make it more engaging and fun.

If you wish to talk to a professional expert and understand how group therapy works, connect with one right away for free.

Group Therapy Vs. Support Groups

Group TherapySupport Groups
Group therapy helps people to change.Support groups help people to cope.
This is used when people wish to change their social, emotional, or cognitive patterns.This is usually used when people need help in situations that cannot be changed, like losing a loved one.
This is best for people struggling with alcoholism, substance abuse, depression, or anxiety.This is best for people struggling with grief or divorce.

What Can Group Therapy Help With?

Group therapy can help with a variety of mental health conditions and even the daily challenges a person goes through in a lifetime, like:

  1. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  2. Depression
  3. Anxiety
  4. Phobias
  5. Substance abuse
  6. Alcholism
  7. Panic disorders
  8. Chronic stress
  9. Anger management
  10. Chronic illness

what can group therapy help with?

If Someone Is in Group Therapy, Do They Also Need Individual Therapy?

People in group therapy can also benefit from individual therapy for better results and outcomes. When it comes to severe cases like getting suicidal thoughts, engaging in self-harm, or anything related to a crisis situation, individual therapy is advisable.

Solely investing in group counseling is okay if you feel you are benefiting just fine from it, but if you feel you need more help and especially individual assistance, it is good to consider individual therapy.

If Someone Is in Group Therapy, Do They Also Need Individual Therapy?

Types of Group Therapy

Group therapy is conducted in different ways according to the type of group a person chooses for themselves. Here are some types of group therapy techniques:

1. Psychotherapy groups

This type of group therapy addresses the feelings, actions, and mental processes of the group members and helps one another build healthy coping mechanisms and consciously work to change their patterns. This type of therapy usually takes place in hospitals, recovery centers, and private clinics.

2. Cognitive behavioural groups

Cognitive behavioural groups use the same techniques as individual CBT; however, there is more to learn in group CBT as there is more engagement, social learning, and peer modelling. Although it has been said that there is no stark difference between individual and group CBT, group therapy does add a fun element for the members in them.

3. Interpersonal groups

This therapy helps improve social functioning and interpersonal relationships by paying close attention to an individual’s thoughts, patterns, and reactions and simply working on them as the group progresses.

4. Self-help groups

Self-help groups are mostly run by facilitators, wherein the group engages in conversations and talks about their personal journeys regarding the specific concerns people are facing, like alcoholism or substance abuse.

5. Support groups

Support groups are an umbrella term and include everyone who wishes to get better but is more inclined towards group support. Such people do well in support groups, as they relate to others and find the help they want in other people’s stories.

types of group therapy

Benefits of Group Therapy

While group therapy might not be for everyone, it sure does have its share of benefits. The benefits of group therapy are as follows:

  1. Listening to other people’s experiences and stories makes you feel at ease and more humane.
  2. You feel less lonely when you are sitting with a bunch of people who have seen different struggles in their lives.
  3. Talking and sharing with other people helps you know yourself better and you are able to look at your situation from a different perspective.
  4. You get to see a different side of yourself and the struggles you have been through.
  5. You understand how to get out of victim mentality and learn effective strategies to manage your trauma and emotional conflicts.
  6. You learn to lean on others for emotional support.
  7. By seeing other people manage their emotions and make progress in their healing journey, you get the motivation to do good for yourself too.
  8. You understand that the simple act of sharing can do wonders.

benefits of group therapy

Is Group Therapy Right for You?

Group therapy might not be the best option for you if you are not someone who is very keen on opening up in front of a room full of strangers. However, it also depends on the kind of group you are a part of. So here are some ways in which you can see if group therapy techniques are right for you:

It is about sharing

If you enroll yourself in group therapy, be prepared to talk and share because group therapy is primarily focused on that concept. If you are someone who prefers to talk to the therapist alone in a confined space, that is alright, but that also means that group therapy might not be the best option for you.

Try and see for yourself

You will never know if group therapy is for you if you never try it out. So to see if group therapy is for you, try to enroll yourself in different groups, like a small group, a group that peaks your interest, or a group of your age-group. Before enrolling, check all the necessary information properly, like the qualifications of the therapist and the guidelines and how they will benefit you.

Not the best for crises

Group therapy is not the best option if there is a crisis or emergency situation, like a sudden panic attack or some suicidal tendency or thoughts. In this case, it is best to opt for individual therapy.

is group therapy right for you?

What to Expect at Your First Group Therapy Session

In the first group therapy session, there is no in-depth analysis of feelings or any big revelations from any members. The therapist tries to build rapport with the people present in the group by getting to know them and helping them engage with each other, while also stating the reason for group therapies and what their objective is.

In a nutshell, the first group therapy session is about breaking the ice and making each member of the group comfortable and safe so that they can share their stories out loud without any hesitation or fear.

If you are still doubtful if you need group therapy or not, talk to a professional expert and ask them all your doubts for free.

Share with Now&Me

If you are on the lookout for a community where you can share your thoughts anonymously, you can download the Now&Me app and join the Now&Me community. However, if you wish to try group therapy or group therapy activities, there are private practitioners who practice such therapies and can be found via the internet or social media like Instagram or LinkedIn.

Moreover, if you simply wish to talk to a therapist on an individual basis or want to try out some self-help books, you can check the panel of therapists and choose the right book for you from the app itself.

Happy healing!

Sources

  1. What Is Group Therapy? Published November 2023. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-group-therapy-2795760#toc-types-of-group-therapy

  2. Group Therapy: How It Works, What It Helps, and More. Published November 2023. https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/benefits-group-therapy-mental-health-treatment/

  3. Group Therapy: Types, How It Works, & What to Expect. Published August 2023. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/group-therapy/

Now&Me articles are written by experienced mental health contributors and are purely based on scientific research and evidence-based practices, which are thoroughly reviewed by experts, including therapists and psychologists with various specialties, to ensure accuracy and alignment with current industry standards.

However, it is important to note that the information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individual circumstances vary, and it is advisable to consult with a qualified mental health professional for personalized advice and guidance.

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