What Is Group Therapy?
A therapeutic group usually consists of five to eight people (plus a therapist) committing themselves to attend weekly group sessions. Sessions run for an hour and a half. Participants agree to keep everyone's name and personal information confidential outside of group. Group members decide together who or what will be the focus of group work within each session. Everyone benefits through listening, asking questions, and contributing support even when one is not the center of a session’s process. Sometimes there are opportunities for two or more group members to work together for their mutual benefit.
What Is The Therapist's Role?
Group therapists are trained in group dynamics and process. The therapist encourages emotional safety in the group by guiding and modeling member interactions, questions, etc. In particular, the therapist emphasizes the cultivation of trust, respect, and compassionate honesty among members. In time participants take larger risks revealing their internal thoughts, feelings, and struggles. Inevitably, however, there are disappointments and conflicts between group members. Problems outside of group get experienced within the group dynamic. These struggles are a helpful part of group therapy and allow the therapist to address painful experiences as they happen.
What Are The Benefits of Group Therapy?
Group members experience emotional support, understanding, and encouragement from one another. Committed attendance is itself therapeutic, as members "show up" for themselves and for others. Attending group gives purpose to members' lives; we develop a sense of responsibility to the group because our participation impacts other group members.
In particular, group therapy is instrumental in healing all emotional and psychological struggles people experience: depression, anxiety, anger, fear, shame, etc. Individuals increase self-confidence through revealing their interior lives to others. Members feel less alone in the world through understanding other people's lives. And, understanding other people's problems, goals, and solutions helps members better understand themselves. We can also experiment with different roles and ways of being in group that inform and change our lives outside of group. Group therapy provides opportunities for transcending our life struggles through experiencing our common humanness with others.
Fees for group therapy are usually much less than for individual therapy; often about half the cost. A Medical Savings Account (MSA) or Cafeteria (pre-taxed) Plan at work may also pay for group therapy without the need for a Mental Health Diagnosis. For more information, please contact your therapists.