When you first think about the idea of group therapy, it's easy to say to yourself "No, that's not for me". The thought of sharing your personal story with strangers is probably akin to having your teeth pulled.
However, group therapy can be extremely beneficial. Here are some points to consider:
Usually, the group consists of no more than 5 to 15 people, so numbers are small. Also, the group is led by one or more psychologists, so it gives you a sense of security that you're in good professional hands.
The key is to be in the right group at the right time. In times of acute crisis, a group situation is probably the least desirable situation because your needs are great and need to be focused on just you. These times should be managed with one-on-one support.
Generally, sessions last for between 90 minutes and 2 hours, once or twice a week. What you decide to share with the group is entirely up to you, but you can feel reassured that what's said in the group, stays in the group.
Benefits of Group Therapy
Here is an exploration of the ways group therapy for mental health treatment if helpful.
Groups provide support - When others share their challenges, you could find those that are experiencing similar challenges to you. This is reassuring to know that you're not alone with the way you think or feel, and many group members feel an enormous sense of relief to be able to "get things off your chest".
Groups provide a sounding board - The adage of being two sides to every story is very true, and group members may see things in a situation that you can't see yourself. Also, learning about the way you present your "case" - from the perspective of others - is incredibly powerful. You can deal with your situation much easier if you can look at it from a wider range of perspectives.
Groups can propel you forward - Hearing how someone else has successfully dealt with a situation can be very encouraging and enable you to push yourself harder when you see what others have done.
Groups promote social skills - Groups are an ideal place to re-engage with people socially and help to ease the feelings of isolation. Social skills don't come automatically, they are acquired and learned, and groups are an excellent way to practice your social skills. Knowing you can get along with others is also a huge boost to self-esteem and confidence.
Individual counseling is more expensive than group therapy - but that doesn't mean it isn't as effective. Group therapy can be incredibly powerful, depending on your personal situation.
Groups teach you about yourself - Every individual within the group holds a mirror and you get to see yourself through their eyes. By doing this, you can uncover blind spots that may exist, preventing you from dealing with your issues.
How to Benefit the Most from Group Therapy
There are only two things that you need to do for a successful group therapy:
1. Participate actively. Sure, there may be days where you're feeling more introverted, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, the more you participate and contribute, the more you will get out of it personally.
2. Share - Even if you find yourself reluctant to share your experiences, it's really a win/win situation: your experiences could be meaningful to someone else, and knowing you are helping others will help you too.