15 December 2023
Group psychotherapy is a psychological treatment method conducted in a group setting under the guidance of a trained psychotherapist. This entails expression and discussion of individual mental health or life issues and sharing of experiences related to mental disorders common to the group. The strength of group dynamics and interactions is expected to facilitate personal growth, self-discovery, and emotional healing, via a comfortable, safe, supportive, and cohesive environment to equip members to overcome personal, social, career, relationship, or other mental health issues.
How does group therapy work?
Allows people to share problems or concerns, to develop a better understanding of one’s own situation, learn from others, and help one another.
Groups typically consist of 6 to 12 members from diverse backgrounds with common issues, such as depression, anxiety, interpersonal difficulties or substance abuse.
The therapist guides the group towards interaction, feedback, introspection, discussion, self-reflection, and to help learn and practice coping techniques to deal with their individual concerns.
Therapeutic interventions include cognitive-behavioral techniques, psychodynamic exploration, experiential exercises to explore experiences and emotions, writing exercises, goal setting, asking each other questions, gratitude activities and journaling.
The techniques are practiced by mirroring real-world situations so as to explore and modify their thoughts and responses and ways of relating to others.
Types of Psychotherapy Groups
Cognitive behavioral groups aim at identifying and altering inaccurate or distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, attitude and behaviors, that may be causing stressors in the person’s life.
Interpersonal groups focus on issues related to the individual’s interpersonal relationships and social interactions, based on the individual’s family and social support, or lack of it, and how it affects the person’s mental health.
Psychoeducational groups aim at educating clients about their disorders and how to cope with them by applying cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) techniques.
Skills development groups focus on improving social, interpersonal and cognitive skills in individuals with mental health disorders or developmental disabilities.
Support groups provide help and support to people with a variety of mental health conditions and their loved ones.
What Does Group Therapy Treat?
Group therapy is used to treat different mental health and other life issues that hinder normal functioning, including: Depression, Generalized anxiety disorder, Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Eating disorders, Phobias, Panic disorder, Substance use disorder, Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Grief and loss, Chronic illness, Chronic stress, Divorce, Domestic violence, Chronic pain, Weight management, Anger management etc.
Benefits of Group Psychotherapy
Group Psychotherapy provides a supportive and empathetic environment to share concerns without fear of judgment, meet and bond with others who are going through a similar situation, learn and practice intervention techniques in a safe and cohesive space.
Members support each other through feedback and encouragement in getting better, during the sessions, and later also through ongoing support and encouragement.
The therapist can understand first-hand how the individual comprehends, responds, behaves in social situations and can provide constructive feedback and strategies to alter cognition and behavior patterns.
It helps improve interpersonal skills through real-time interactions, observation, and role-modelling by observing and emulating others.
Effectiveness of Group Therapy
In a 2014 study, researchers found that 44% patients reported significant improvement in a group psychotherapy session that applied cognitive behavioral therapy for treating depression .
As per the American Psychological Association's Monitor on Psychology, group psychotherapy meets standards set by the Society of Clinical Psychology for Substance Use Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Social Phobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Panic Disorder.
It is found to have lasting benefits such as improved social functioning and reduced feelings of isolation
A combination of group and individual therapy is recommended for comprehensive treatment in some cases.