Groups can help with educational, personal, or social problems and are available to meet the needs and interests of anyone who is seeking personal growth or support from others. They are a safe place to talk. Group members can give you insight, understanding, support, and acceptance.
These groups deal primarily with helping people make fundamental changes in their ways of feeling, thinking, and behaving. Therapeutic groups focus on helping members grow and develop as a person. The leaders use treatment interventions to correct specific emotional and behavioral attitudes and problems that prevent people from being able to function at their desired level, such as depression and severe anxiety. Members of therapy groups share emotions from their current and past life experiences.
The following are examples of goals you can have for participating in a therapy group:
- Gain a deeper understanding of your problem(s) and develop effective solutions
- Learn to trust yourself and others
- See yourself in a new way
- Learn how to get along with others better
- Become more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others
Some worry that if they a join a group, they might be expected or pressured to share their deepest and darkest secrets. This is a common myth regarding group therapy. Participants will share only what they want and at a pace comfortable to them. Each group member has an opportunity to be seen and heard for who they are. Counselors leading the group are trained and experienced in running groups, and when needed, there can be more than one counselor available.
The advantages of participating in therapy groups are numerous, and group therapy has been shown through evidence-based research to be as effective as individual therapy. Some of the advantages are:
- Opportunity to learn from others
- Realizing that you are not alone with the type of problem you are struggling with
- Ability to gain different ideas/ perspectives/ viewpoints from the other members
- Ability to learn more about yourself
- Sometimes, results happen faster than in individual counseling
For a more detailed explanation of how therapy groups work and what to expect, check out this article by Dr. Malika Kapadia
These groups tend to be more structured and teach specific coping skills, are shorter term, and focus on specific themes or particular groups of people. Educational groups focus on prevention or development of more effective ways to deal with behaviors that are interfering with one's goals.
The following are examples of goals a person can have for participating in a psychoeducational group:
- Reduce test-anxiety
- Improve interpersonal skills
- Develop more effective relationship skills
- Find ways to reduce stress
Benefits to attending a psychoeducational group are:
- Being able to talk with others with similar concerns
- Learning something that could improve your life in some way
- The opportunity to learn new skills and/or coping tools
- The opportunity to meet and network with others who share your interests or concerns
- Exposure to new ideas
Confidentiality and Privacy
Everything that is discussed in counseling groups is considered confidential. It is not to be discussed outside the group, even with other group participants. Each member signs an agreement to observe this rule.