Groups very often have about four to 10 participants, and usually meet every week for approximately 90 minutes. These groups can have a pre-determined existence of a couple of months or be open-ended and last many years, with many members staying for the duration if they so choose.
What makes group therapy so helpful to the participants?
I would like to take the opportunity to explain.
1. Group therapy helps you understand how others often face similar challenges.
Many therapy clients, like the rest of us, worry about feeling incompetent or inadequate, and would never dare share that deep, dark secret with anyone they know socially or professionally for fear of being ridiculed or rejected in some way. In the age of social network apps, coupled with the constant pressure to be popular and have a “Fab” life, or at least on Facebook, some clients are quite hesitant about sharing how lonely they truly are, or experience anxiety about how they will never find anyone to love or be loved back. Others may also have some sort of sexual secret/fantasy that they are ashamed of or feel that no one else could possibly understand or relate to.
Group therapy can help reduce the feelings of isolation and alienation among members of the group. It creates a sense of belonging and a “I’m not as messed up as I thought” feeling by normalizing many of the everyday challenges and heartaches we come across as well as the multiple life-transitions that all of us inevitably experience throughout life (dating, marriage, children, career, divorce, getting older, illness, loss).
2. Group therapy helps you identify needs and how to go about getting them met.
In order to experience true joy and peace, it’s critical for everyone to figure out what they need and want personally as well as professionally, and most importantly, in a romantic couples relationship. Through decisions and subsequent actions, we teach others what we are willing to allow in our lives. It’s critical to examine how things that happen, our behaviors and those of others are affecting us and having the chance to notice those can be life-altering. Group members are strongly encouraged to take notice of how they’re feeling throughout the session and discuss it instead of disconnecting with those feelings, which often tends to happen while we’re busy interacting with friends, family, and co-workers.
3. Group therapy helps you relate to others (and yourself) in healthier ways.
Groups focus on how participants relate to themselves as well as others. In other words, they develop the capacity to observe themselves in the moment. That way, they are able to get a better grasp on what is and isn’t working for them. This takes place with the clinician’s as well as other members’ support and feedback.
4. Group therapy provides a safety net.
Groups led by a competent clinician can offer a safe zone, where members can practice speaking more authentically and behaving in constructive ways towards their desired goals. Clients practice these skills during group, and as they do, their confidence for practicing them outside the group grows.
In addition, when you have to report back and talk about your experience, it gives you a push to get it done so you can feel good about sharing it with people who care about you and your progress. The group becomes the net.
It takes strength and courage to be open to allow others into your life’s deepest and most tender secrets. The ability to take direction, apply it while being mindful of other’s feedback and feelings is a challenge that has to be properly and effectively managed in order to be a success.
It is oftentimes most helpful and beneficial to participate in both group as well as individual Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). That way one can discuss privately what comes up for them during group as well as work more intensely on individual goals and issues with their therapist.