Your first thought on reading this might be about baring your soul to a bunch of strangers and that can sound pretty scary, but there are a lot of benefits in choosing this way to address some of the things you may be struggling with. There is a body of outcome research that tells us “group therapy is a highly effective form of psychotherapy and that it is at least equal to individual psychotherapy in its power to provide meaningful benefit” (Yalom & Leszcz).
Not everyone needs the same things or responds in the same way to group therapy but, depending on the nature of your problem, group therapy can be an ideal choice for addressing your concerns and making positive changes in your life. There are usually four to ten people in a group and they meet weekly for 90 minutes. The group can be as brief as several months or last as long as five to 10 years.
Some of the reasons that people find group therapy useful are:
*Group therapy helps you realise you are not the only one who struggles in the way that you do. And knowing this can help you feel that, if others can overcome their challenges, you can too.
Besides that, regularly talking and listening to others helps you put your own problems in perspective.
*Another important aspect of group therapy is that because people have different personalities and backgrounds, and they look at situations in different ways, you have access to new ideas and attitudes that you may not have considered before. By seeing how other people tackle problems and make positive changes, you can discover a whole range of strategies for facing your own concerns. And you may be surprised to learn that you have much to contribute to the discussion, and that this is useful to others.
You’re also able to carry the groups’ support with you between sessions, making it easier to take risks.
*A group is a great place to become comfortable with expressing your own opinions and giving or receiving feedback. It’s a good idea to notice how you’re feeling throughout the session and to take this opportunity to talk about it.
*Often people don’t understand why their relationships with the people in their lives aren’t working. During group therapy, members can get honest feedback from others. Do you typically hang back until someone invites you to speak? Or do you take the lead? Do you only share positive information about yourself or things you’re struggling with? What parts of yourself do you let others see? What parts of yourself do you hide? How do you handle conflict? How do you get your needs met?
I’ll offer the opportunity to join a group soon. Have a think about it. It’s a less expensive way to access psychotherapy and, although it has its challenges as does any therapy, it just might be what you need to help you move forward in your life.