Group Therapy— should you join a group?
There are so many benefits of group therapy. The most important, in my opinion, is that finding connections with others who have gone through similar experiences is one of the most healing and encouraging treatments I’ve seen as a therapist.
As more people have been exposed to the idea of group therapy through books like “Group” which was featured on Reese Witherspoon’s book club list, I wanted to share some benefits of group therapy for those who may be interested, as well as why it might be a good addition to regular therapy.
Group therapy and individual therapy tackle different things. Individual therapy gives you an opportunity to deeply dive into your inner experience, while group can help give you insights to your inner world, while also strengthening your interpersonal connections. You won’t always get the one-on-one attention you may be seeking for individual therapy, but it could be a great stepping stone for someone who hasn’t adventured into the wonderful world of therapy. If a group is a stepping stone or a first try for you, it may be a great way for you to feel out a therapist and see if they’d be a good fit for you for individual therapy in the future. (Some therapists will see the same clients individually as well as in a group, depending on a case-by-case basis, so always ask your therapist if they offer both!)
Don’t knock group if you’re already in therapy. You can find groups for specific issues, which can be a great supplement to individual therapy. For example, my COVID support group centers around anxiety about the pandemic and the other struggles that come with that. However, my group clients are also doing excellent work in their individual sessions. This is work that they use to add to group, but they do not derail the group from the topic at hand to only talk about their outside issues. Group therapy is a place for having cathartic experiences with others. While therapists can show you we understand and empathize with you, your group members can go beyond that by sharing their similar feelings and how they deal with them. The ultimate goal is an increased feeling of hope with community.
Having a witness to your story is a powerful thing. This is why groups like AA are so successful and people stay with them for years and years. But you don’t have to have an addiction to seek connection in your journey with mental health. There are general process groups that are extremely helpful for strengthening interpersonal skills as well as specific groups. Check out the groups we offer at our practice today!