Most people are familiar with the idea of individual therapy. A client sits alone with their therapist and discusses their issues, feelings, and goals for treatment. What the person may not understand is how group therapy can be different but complementary to their treatment. For someone who has never participated in group therapy, it can seem intimidating. Still, it offers many benefits that can help a person move forward. Group therapy can be an excellent fit for people dealing with mental health issues like depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, eating disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Group therapy is also offered for topics related to addiction, including drug and alcohol abuse, and addictions related to gambling, video gaming, and internet usage.
Group therapy typically has about five to fifteen participants. A clinical therapist leads the group, which usually meets once or twice a week. Some groups focus on one particular issue, such as depression, while others are more generalized. Talk to the group leader to see if their group is a good fit for you.
Benefits of Attending Group Therapy
One significant benefit of going to group therapy is realizing that a person is not alone in their particular struggles. A mental illness or addiction often leaves a person feeling as if they alone deal with this type of problem and do not have anyone else with whom to discuss how it feels. Group therapy allows multiple people to share their fears, questions, and triumphs with each other, leaving everyone with a better understanding that they are not alone. Realizing there is power in numbers can help catapult a person forward in their recovery.
Another benefit is seeing yourself through the eyes of others. While therapists’ comments and insight are beneficial, group therapy can give a person additional insight they didn’t know they needed. As people in group therapy get to know each other, it becomes easier for them to advise and recognize both setbacks and steps forward. The group participants start to know each other’s patterns and give advice that is born of having walked in each other’s shoes and understanding how that feels.
Tips for Participating in Your Group
It’s common to feel shy when you go to your first group meeting. You will likely be introduced to the others and may be asked to give a brief overview of who you are. Most groups respect that it may take a couple of sessions before a new member feels comfortable opening up. While you may have times when you feel less communicative than others, keep in mind that sometimes the days you least feel like speaking up are the ones you most need to use your voice.
As the therapist and group members get to know you, they will become more comfortable being blunt with you. Try not to take comments or advice personally, as everyone’s goal is to help each other. If someone offers advice that hurts your feelings, consider their words rather than automatically rejecting them. In turn, you may be called upon to give tough but respectful advice to others and need to develop comfort in doing so. Group therapy offers all its members a safe place to practice using their voices and bonding with others. Both of these things will help you a great deal outside of the group as you move forward in recovery.
Group Therapy Can Change Your World View
One often-unexpected advantage of attending group therapy is that you begin to see how your particular issues are universal. Participants in group therapy may be of different genders, races, religious affiliations, nationalities, and sexual preferences, but they all have something in common. People who realize that their problems cross all sorts of boundaries and affect people from all walks of life often find their compassion for others increases. This understanding also helps you to feel less alone. While your depression or substance abuse may convince you that you’re alone, your lived experience will argue against it.
Going to group therapy also offers a great way to practice being part of a social group. Too often, having a mental health disorder or addiction fosters a feeling of being alone and afraid to share with others. Becoming accustomed to discussing difficult subjects with strangers doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. Still, as you become more adaptable to it, it has benefits outside of the group. This new skill will foster a newfound comfort in talking to others. You may also find yourself trusting in your ability to discuss personal topics with others and building bonds that have both personal and social benefits.
Individual therapy used to treat mental health disorders and different kinds of addiction is very helpful, but many people also benefit from adding group therapy to their treatment. Group therapy offers a way to bond with other people who are going through the same adversities you are, allowing everyone to help each other achieve their goals. Finding the right group for you is crucial. We offer groups that are an excellent fit for many different life challenges. We believe in small groups so that each person has a voice and a real chance to work on themselves. Silver Lining believes in understanding who the individual is and devising the treatment program that is right for them. We are located waterside in Huntington Beach, California, and offer both day and nighttime appointments. Call us today to discuss our group therapy and other options to help you manage your life and heal! (866) 448-4563