The Lowdown on Group Therapy

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When someone mentions therapy sessions or searching for a counselor or psychologist, etc., we typically think of individual treatments. However, group therapy is becoming increasingly available and popular and is worth considering for many. Here’s what you need to know about this type of mental health assistance.

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Group Therapy Explained

Group therapy is the term used to describe mental health wellbeing sessions led by therapists with multiple people in attendance. Groups are often between five and 15 people, but numbers do vary significantly. Therapists regulate who joins groups, and they introduce new patients.

Group therapy sessions can be conducted in person or via online therapy setups, usually with video conferencing software. Some groups meet for a pre-determined amount of time, such as for a month, 12 weeks, or six months, while others get together for an indefinite number of sessions.

Group therapy sessions tend to be quite structured, with everyone encouraged to attend each appointment. Also, therapy-based meetings can be either open to new members over time or closed, where everyone begins together in the group, and no new entrants are permitted.

What to Expect During Group Therapy

It helps to have an idea of what to expect before you arrive at your first group therapy session, whether it’s online or in-person. Most meetings last an hour, 90 minutes, or two hours and run once a week, although some groups meet multiple times. Usually, there’s a particular focus for attendees to work on across sessions, such as managing depression, combating shyness or anxiety, improving low self-esteem, and so on.

Also, meetings can involve a single type of therapy technique or multiple ones. Beyond the general idea of talk therapy, where each participant shares their ups and downs, backstory, goals, etc., therapists may help people via workshops, art or other expressive therapies, or even group outings or activities. Again, this varies significantly depending on the type of group and the mental health practitioner leading it.

Key Benefits of Group Therapy

There are many benefits to be enjoyed from group therapy. For example, it gives you the chance to connect with other people who might be in a similar situation or frame of mind as you and feel less alone or different as a result. Plus, hearing other people share their experiences can put your own feelings or beliefs into perspective and help you shift your mindset more easily for quality growth. It can also validate the way you feel, which is especially beneficial if you don’t get that validation from loved ones.

Interacting in a group setting helps many patients improve their social skills and learn how to put emotions into words more effectively. Many attendees notice that they pick up on the good and bad habits they have regarding communication and reactions to others’ comments and behaviors. This then promotes more peaceful and productive interactions long term.

Plus, group sessions can allow you to make new friends. You should feel supported by a community of people who want you to succeed and understand the struggles you potentially face along the way. These people, along with the therapist guiding the group, can help hold you accountable for the changes you’re striving to make and actions you want to take to improve yourself and your life, too.

How to Tell If Group Therapy is Right for You

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If you’re not sure whether to choose group or individual therapy, remember that you can always do both types at once, or try each and see what works best for you. Group therapy can be an excellent choice for those with limited funds available for sessions since costs get shared between attendees.

Also, plenty of patients find it easier to share in a group setting when they hear other people mention their challenges. They find it less intimidating than only having a therapist to look at and speak with. With group appointments, you can obtain multiple points of view, which may help, too.

However, keep in mind that individual sessions are more focused and targeted because you’re not sharing the time with anyone else, and you can bring up any topics you like. You also have a higher level of confidentiality to rely on when engaging in individual treatment, and you have more flexibility with the timing of sessions to suit your schedule.

You’ll need to weigh up various factors to determine what will suit you better. However, many people are surprised by how much they get out of group therapy when they first begin it. It may take some trial and error to find the right group and therapist, but persevere and be open to the many pluses that can come from therapy undertaken with others.

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The Lowdown on Group Therapy
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You’ll need to weigh up various factors to determine what will suit you better.
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