Group psychotherapy is a special form of therapy in which a small number of people meet together under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist to help themselves and one another. The therapy has been widely used and has been a standard treatment option for over 50 years. If you stop and think about it, each of us has been raised in group environments, either through our families, schools, organized activities, or work. These are the environments in which we grow and develop as human beings. Group psychotherapy is no different. It provides a place where you come together with others to share problems or concerns, to better understand your own situation, and to learn from and with each other. Group works! In studies comparing group psychotherapy to individual therapy, group therapy has been shown to be as effective and sometimes even more effective.
Who can benefit from Group Psychotherapy?
Group psychotherapy is a unique and highly effective form of psychotherapy. It has been shown to be especially useful for individuals experiencing social isolation, emotional conflict and/or difficulties in their relationships with others; be they friends, partners, parents, children coworkers, or people in positions of authority or subordinates. The experiential learning at the core of the psychotherapy group addresses related symptoms such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, shyness, excessive anger, and a lack of clarity with one’s own identity. Finally, group therapy has shown to benefit individuals who are simply seeking to gain a greater understanding of themselves in relationship to their social environment.
We begin to learn about our place in the world through involvement in our original group – the family group. Beginning in early childhood and continuing through adolescence, we learn to deal with a series of interpersonal challenges involving many different types of groups. These experiences are not always satisfactory and we frequently find that we require additional tools. Discovering that our navigational strategies, both verbal and non-verbal, are not as effective as we would like, we can choose to consider alternative forms of relating to others. Group psychotherapy provides a safe and secure place to face our behaviors and our style of communication, to witness how our communications affect others and to practice new ways of engaging with them.
How is group effective?
An individual’s typical interpersonal behaviors attitudes and interactional patterns come to life within the context of the controlled learning environment of a psychotherapy group. Constructive input and feedback from other group members and the leader provides members with the rare opportunity to see and understand themselves through the eyes of others. Members come to recognize the difference between effective and less effective forms of communication and relationship building. Members find safety in being part of a cohesive unit. They provide and receive helpful feedback and learn new ways of addressing heir interpersonal needs. Through this learning process members can enhance self-expression, increase self-esteem, and learn how best to be helpful to others.