Group therapy, a form of psychotherapy, is a unique and beneficial therapeutic modality for treating a wide range of emotional and behavioral issues and a quality educational resource for families. Often led by one or two licensed therapists or counselors, groups average in size of 10-15 people. However, they can be as small as three to four people. There are several group therapy styles and formats, and they are not “one size fits all.” Many therapists may have their own unique way of running their group, and it is okay if you have to try a few out before finding the right one.
At Mindful Living Group, our team of therapists value the benefits that group therapy may deliver. Common methods of group therapy are cognitive behavioral groups, psychoeducational, or support groups. Many groups at Mindful Living Group incorporate mindfulness practices into each session, too. Group therapy can be instrumental in providing individuals a community and helping them to reduce feelings of alienation in their struggles.
What Is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is likely one of the most misunderstood forms of therapy. It is designed to bring together individuals who have similar mental health disorders or behavioral problems to face. Group therapy is often integrated into a person’s treatment plan as an additional resource to their private sessions, but it can be a primary means of therapy, too. The essence of group therapy is to develop a deeper understanding by connecting with others who are going (or have gone) through the same or similar experiences.
While discussions are an essential part of group therapy, there’s a much deeper layer than a conversation with people who have similar experiences. Through group discussions – facilitated by a provider – a unique phenomenon may occur. You might be able to gain a deeper insight into yourself, your patterns, and your behaviors. As you continue taking part in sessions, the group’s therapist or other members have an opportunity to kindly shed light on unconscious reactions you or others may have.
Communication is a skill that takes practice. You may say or perceive something being said differently than intended without knowing. Unlike in individual therapy sessions, a therapist can view your interactions and exchanges with others and help you dissect and learn more effective ways of communicating and relating to others. Group therapy can be compared to “learning hands-on.” If a distorted thinking pattern was interrupted, discussed, and an alternative method was taught during group, you will likely notice this thinking outside of the group. The ability to recognize these patterns or behaviors opens the door for change.
Group Therapy at Mindful Living Group
Therapists who lead group therapy at Mindful Living Group ensure that each group’s environment is nonjudgmental, confidential, cohesive, and supportive. The therapists’ role is to establish and facilitate an atmosphere that encourages members to engage with group conversations and activities. Empathy and respect among members is encouraged and demonstrated; otherwise, it could be hostile and harmful. Therapists ensure each member feels safe and is respected in their vulnerability.
Group therapy sessions are structured. This can be in the form of a free-form conversation among group members sharing about current struggles or hurdles they’ve overcome or a specific topic given by the therapist. Other methods may include a planned out session with a particular agenda set by the therapist that contains activities, mindfulness practices, or a mixture of all the above. Groups may also be “open” or “closed.” Open groups allow anyone to join in and see if it’s a good fit for them. Closed groups are strictly for a select group of individuals and tend to hold a higher confidence level.
It is always essential to ensure you feel safe and respected in group therapy. If you do not, talk with your primary therapist or counselor and work together in finding a group that is helpful to you. You should never feel pressured or intimidated, rather encouraged and supported.
Benefits to Group therapy
It is often easier to recognize unhealthy patterns in other people than in ourselves. Once we see these patterns in people who are similar to us, it might illuminate our own introspection, and help us to be able to begin recognizing our own patterns or maladaptive behaviors. This is why group therapy might be such a vital modality in you or someone close to you’s treatment. Agreeing to join and participate in group therapy requires the willingness to change and accept gentle feedback from the peers in your group.
Safety in group therapy allows individuals to release suppressed emotions or information they may have held onto that has kept them from moving forward or healing. This ability to let go is vital for healing to begin.
Group therapy provides an opportunity for community and can allow one to create connections with others who are willing to support you. Groups contain people from all levels of a similar journey. When you are beginning, there will likely be others in the group that have been in your shoes – and there’s a comfort in this. They made it through and are able to provide insight and guidance on how you can, too.
Bringing together a diverse group of people with a similar issue means there are various philosophical viewpoints on how to approach a situation. Group therapy means there’s never one answer. Instead, you can share and receive multiple ways of looking at something – a benefit you cannot obtain from individual therapy alone. Additionally, you might be able to learn new skills. These could be interpersonal skills or coping skills.
Group therapy gives you a voice. This is often one of the most powerful characteristics people gain from participating in group. How does this work? As you connect with the other group members, you might become more comfortable with expressing your emotions without a filter. In doing this, others may be able to help you make sense of how you are feeling, or maybe you might start noticing and untangling the feelings in your body by speaking them out loud. Group therapy is a place you can openly express yourself without a mask – you are free to be yourself, to feel how you feel. You are given the floor to speak uninterrupted to people who actively listen to what you say. The opportunity to heal and discover your voice without expectations or the influence of feeling you need to be someone you aren’t is an extraordinary thing.
Join Group Therapy Today
Starting group therapy may feel intimidating, but don’t let that hold you back from creating a network of support, friendship, and healing. Mindful Living Group’s expert therapists are sure to make you feel welcome and free to express yourself as you are.
Talk with your therapist or contact Mindful Living Group today to discuss which group option is right for you.