Amanda Gregory, LCPC, EMDR Practitioner
Have you considered participating in group therapy? It’s worth thinking about. Many people have found group therapy to be helpful in addressing a variety of issues, from interpersonal skills to self-esteem. Group therapy involves meeting with a therapist and a group of individuals who have similar goals with the intention of working on these goals together. Some people participate in group therapy exclusively, while others engage in individual, family, or couples therapy in addition to group therapy.
Here are eight benefits of participating in group therapy:
1. You will be guided by a therapist.
Unlike most support groups, every group therapy session is led by a trained therapist. This leadership provides the group with safety and structure. If one group member is disruptive, the therapist is able to step in and re-establish a safe environment. The structure provided by the therapist helps the group members to stay on track and increases the group’s productivity.
2. You’re likely to pay less.
Group therapy tends to cost less per session than individual, family, or couples counseling. Some therapists might also provide discounts if you sign up for multiple sessions, and some might accept a sliding-scale fee based on your income. Certain insurance policies cover group counseling, but others do not, so be sure to check with your provider.
3. You can gain helpful insight.
Expert therapists have the background to provide the group with psychoeducation, which can help you to understand your experiences. For example, a therapist leading a communication skills group might share information regarding different cultural factors that impact communication. Being aware of these factors could improve how you interact with others.
4. You can practice new techniques.
During group sessions, the therapist may introduce clinical interventions which can be practiced in or outside of the group setting. For example, the therapist leading our hypothetical communication skills group might provide coaching or guidelines to help you engage in conflict resolution or express active listening skills.
5. You may receive validation.
We often feel alone in our experiences. It’s easy to think that no one has the same sort of experiences we do. My clients have said that group therapy provides validation, as the other group members can understand what they are going through. These clients have reported feeling a sense of relief to know that they are not alone. For example, if you have difficulty communicating when you’re angry and you join a communication skills group, you might discover that many of the group members can relate.
6. You can learn from others’ experiences.
Group members are often exposed to new ideas and perceptions from their peers in group therapy. When your peers are sharing their experiences, you’re likely to learn something from them—and they’ll likely learn from you in turn. One of my clients reported, “I learned some things from the therapist, but I learned a lot from the people in the group.”
7. You’ll have access to peer feedback.
Input from a therapist is helpful, but sometimes we need to hear from our peers. Other group members might observe patterns in your communication, emotions, or behavior that they can share with you. This valuable feedback can help you to make positive changes.
8. You can practice social skills.
Participating in group discussions is a great way to actively hone your social skills. Rather than casual discussions, groups can become an opportunity for you to work consciously on emotional communication, effective nonverbal communication, and active listening skills, to name a few. These are pivotal social skills that can improve your relationships.
As of March 2018, Symmetry Counseling’s Maggie Reynolds is leading a new therapy group focused on communication skills within relationships. This group meets Tuesday evenings from 6:00 to 7:15 p.m. at Symmetry Counseling’s office. For more information, please visit our group counseling page.