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Benefits of Group Therapy

Benefits of Group Therapy

When a person is struggling with any health problem, it is not uncommon for doctors to recommend that the patient take several steps to manage the issue. A person with diabetes may be given medication, nutritional counseling, and recommendations to exercise regularly. People with mental health conditions may be advised to take medication, go to individual therapy, and engage in self-care. One of the mental health treatments we advise at Palms Behavioral Health in Harlingen, Texas, is group therapy.

Individual Versus Group Therapy

There are many benefits to individual therapy. These sessions can allow the person to focus on their unique goals and circumstances and confide things in a setting where they know the only person hearing them is legally bound to keep their information private. 

Group therapy does not replace individual sessions. Instead, it is a different way to help a patient in recovery. Some of the benefits of group therapy include:

  • Combating isolation – mental illness can cause people to feel very alone, but group sessions can remind them that their emotions and experiences are shared by other people.
  • Reinforcing cause and effect – sometimes people are better able to see the consequences of their own actions when they witness someone else making good or bad choices. They may also be able to better identify how their own patterns of behavior impact people around them in such a setting.
  • Sharing problem-solving strategies – there are times when individuals with mental health concerns feel like they are being told what to do by people who have never dealt with their particular problem. Hearing from others who have experienced the same struggles carries more weight and gives them more hope that their own recovery is possible.
  • Providing accountability – people within the group can reinforce shared expectations.
  • Implementing structure – routines are very important and helpful for people who are working through mental health concerns. Having a consistent activity like a therapy group can be a helpful part of their routine.
  • Providing a safe space – a place where it is safe and appropriate to discuss painful and difficult topics is a valuable resource for individuals with mental illness.
  • Navigating group dynamics – some people benefit from the opportunity to practice the real-world skill of interacting with others, aided by a trained counselor and feedback from peers in the group. 

What to Expect From Group Therapy

In many ways, group therapy is similar to individual therapy. Sessions are often led by a trained therapist, are between an hour and two hours in length, and may be offered virtually or in person. Group therapy also often includes:

  • Anywhere from 5-15 participants. Groups at the smaller end of this range often allow for more ability to focus on individuals within the group, whereas a larger group is likely to have more diversity within its members and offer a wider range of ideas and information.
  • A set curriculum with a specific number of sessions participants commit to completing. Anywhere from 4-20 sessions is common. Other groups have no such requirement and people attend until they have received the maximum benefits they can from the group.
  • People who have similar diagnoses or problems.
  • Expectations that the person manage certain issues in individual therapy to keep group sessions focused on shared goals.

The Difference Between Group Therapy and Self-Help Groups

Some people may see self-help groups as the same as group therapy, but there are some key differences between the two. While group therapy is typically facilitated by a trained therapist, self-help groups may instead be led by a person who is also in recovery and does not have professional credentials. Additionally, self-help groups are often more focused on addressing symptoms, rather than treating patterns of behavior therapeutically. This is not to say that self-help groups are less valuable than group therapy. The two just serve different purposes and work in different ways.

Open Groups Versus Closed Groups

Some groups are open, meaning that they accept new members at any time. Other groups are closed and only allow new members to start at the beginning of a new session. This is more common in therapy groups with structured curriculums.

Confidentiality Expectations

For group therapy to work, participants must be able to trust that what they share will be kept private. While no law enforces confidentiality between participants, if information is shared outside the group, it undermines the ability of members to trust one another and be vulnerable within sessions.

At Palms Behavioral Health, we offer a full continuum of mental health care, which includes individual, group, and family therapy. We provide a safe environment in which patients can begin their recovery journey. 

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