Group therapy helps people improve the ability to communicate and manage their emotions through a group experience with others struggling with similar issues. It primarily focuses on interpersonal interactions and emotional communication. Research shows that group therapy is a very effective form of treatment. Group therapy is a therapeutic approach in which 5 to 10 people meet under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist with a specific topic or focus. The purpose of group therapy is not to replace individual therapy, but to provide an additional or alternative approach to mental health wellness.
Joining a group of strangers and talking amongst the group may sound intimidating at first, but group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy may not. Who wants to share their story with strangers! Group members are almost always surprised by how rewarding the group experience is during and after the group. Groups can act as a support network and a resource outside of family and professionals. Group members can often help each other develop insight and come up with specific tools for improving your ability to manage and navigate difficult situations or life challenges. Regularly talking and listening to others helps you put your own issues in the right perspective. Many people experience mental health troubles, but rarely speak openly about them to people they don’t even know. Often, you probably feel like you are alone with your struggles, BUT YOU ARE NOT! It can be comforting and insightful to listen to others talk about what they are experiencing. Diversity of thought is another important aspect and advantage of group therapy that individual therapy does not offer. People have different personalities, views, life experiences, and look at situations in different ways.
Children And Teen Group Therapy
Group therapy can be especially beneficial for children and teens
What Are The Benefits Of Group Therapy
Joining a group may feel intimidating at first, but group therapy can provide many benefits that individual therapy may not.
- Universality: Children and adolescents often feel alone with their problems, or that their problems are unique to them, this can lead to feelings of loneliness. Being a part of a group, makes children feel validated, supported, and understood.
- Sharing: Through the use of developmentally appropriate activities, children and adolescents will be able to appropriately articulate feelings and social feedback that they might otherwise have difficulty expressing to adults.
- Forming Relationships: Groups provide a safe and structured environment that allows kids to have positive social interactions with peers that create supportive bonds.
- Social Skills: Group settings provide a place where children and adolescents are able to learn through social interactions. The therapist models active listening and offers supportive and constructive feedback. Group members also provide feedback to each other on social behaviors.
- Improved Self-Esteem: Group therapy provides a space for children and adolescents to help each other. In a group setting they realize that they have the skills and the experience that may be helpful to their peers. The power of helping others is also therapeutic and enhances self-esteem and self-worth.
- Increased Coping Skills: Through the use of structured activities, the therapist teaches strategies to cope with specific problems. Group members practice these skills in a safe environment and receive feedback.
How Effective Is Group Therapy
Research indicates that group therapy is very effective for both children and adolescents. Teens in middle school and early high school may have attained a pretty good cognitive grasp on what emotions are, but have a great deal of uncertainty how to manage their emotions in a positive way. Adolescence is a very difficult and challenging time emotionally and socially. As a result, feelings can be very overwhelming for adolescents.
Through group therapy, adolescents feel a sense of belonging, and can communicate in a way that normalizes their experiences and feelings. They begin to discover a lot about themselves, the impact their behavior has on others, and are able to receive feedback from their peers. At this age, adolescents actually prefer and require the feedback from their peers, which is developmentally appropriate for adolescents. This a big reason reason why adolescents are oftentimes more open to this treatment modality.
Group therapy is also effective for young children. Children of all ages can have a limited understanding of emotions and can often be very reactive. Structured and guided interactions with their peers can increase a child’s emotional intelligence and also assist them in developing social skills that are critical for social/emotional development.
If your child is struggling with depression, anxiety, and socialization, or has recently experienced loss or change; he/she may benefit greatly from group therapy. This type of treatment is very effective in providing coping skills while also creating an environment that bolsters peer relationships.