Group Therapy 101: Expanding the Therapy Experience
Robert Sullivan, MHC
If you’re interested in the world of therapy and may wish to go beyond individual sessions, group therapy can be a powerful experience and beneficial in many ways. It can help a person foster insight, gain helpful support, or build new skills. The idea of sharing personal struggles with a group of people you don’t know may bring up some discomfort. However, the healing power in that experience can be profound and well worth the work. Group therapy can be a fantastic addition to individual psychotherapy, or could also exist in place of individual sessions if you’re choosing between one or the other.
Group therapy is not necessarily the best fit for every person or every issue, which makes it important to know what group therapy is all about and what you might be able to get from being a part of it.
Here are some benefits to doing group work:
1. Social engagement: Being in a group setting allows for people to connect and interact on a different level. Sharing personal experiences can foster intimacy, while speaking and listening to group members can build communication skills.
2. Feedback: Processing things with a group of other people can be helpful in being exposed to different perspectives. The format of a group encourages members to give each other feedback on how they are being perceived. This can provide valuable information that may be harder to get from more biased parties, like friends or family.
3. Processing in real time: This is one of the most valuable things about group therapy. Issues will naturally arise in a group setting that you are able to work through in the moment. For example: let’s say you are having a strong reaction in group to something another member says or the way they are saying it. A benefit of being in a therapeutic group is that you can further explore that reaction and relational issue as it is happening. This can allow members to learn more about themselves and their relationship to others outside the group.
4. Shared experience: One of the most amazing things that comes out of sharing personal struggles with a group is seeing commonalities in your experiences. You have the opportunity to connect with people who may share similar thoughts, feelings, or experiences to you. This can help reduce feelings of isolation or loneliness that have a way of creeping up when people are suffering.
5. Offering support: Group therapy not only allows you to receive feedback and support, but it allows you to offer it to others. A group member might be sharing a personal struggle that you have also gone through and are now on the other side of. It can be healing for you to offer perspective and insight for someone else.
6. Flexibility: Group therapy is a commitment, but it can be a different level of commitment than individual therapy. Oftentimes groups are less expensive and may meet less frequently than the standard for individual work. If you require a little more flexibility and want something a little less intensive, group therapy is a great option.
There are many more benefits to group therapy, but these few stand out as some of the most profound. If you feel particularly connected to any or all of them, group therapy may be the right fit for you. There are many varying types of groups with different focuses that can be tailored to your specific needs.
For more information on groups or general therapy services offered at Intuitive Healing, feel free to reach out to us via email.