Group of people meeting for therapy

The Healing Powers of Group Therapy

Oftentimes, during periods of struggle, we ask ourselves, “Am I the only one who feels this way?”  Feelings of depression, anxiety and trauma can appear isolating and debilitating. Group therapy allows for individuals to come together in a therapeutic manner to aid in the healing process. Group therapy includes either one or two trained clinicians leading members through skill building and/or processing emotions. Group therapy allows for members to normalize their feelings and experiences. In doing so, members may realize they are not alone in what they have been experiencing, and this can offer great healing for themselves and others.

There are many different types of groups, including (but not limited to) psychoeducational groups and process groups. Psychoeducational groups are typically structured groups, which focus on skill building and learning. For example, someone who may struggle with social anxiety may benefit from a psychoeducational group to hone in on coping skills and role-play with other members to reduce symptoms of anxiety in social situations. Process groups are unstructured groups, which allow for members to process emotions as they come up within the group. Someone who may be experiencing grief due to a significant loss in their life may benefit from a process group. A process group allows for emotions to be expressed related to the loss, as well as normalizing the experience through the support of others in the group who may have experienced a similar or related loss.

Groups can be closed or open. A closed group means that members are pre-screened to be in the group due to a similar diagnosis or difficulty. For example, a closed group may be specifically for those who have a diagnosis of Depression. A closed group only allows for the same members of the group to participate at each meeting, and for a specific amount of time (e.g. 12 weeks). An open group allows for any member to join at any time. There is no screening process for an open group. An example of an open group may be Alcoholics Anonymous, where members can show up if needed at any given time.

Group therapy offers dynamics that may not be offered in individual therapy alone. Through group therapy, skill building, and emotion processing occur in a controlled environment with other individuals who may be experiencing similar or related difficulties. Confidentiality is of utmost importance in a group. Each member entrusts the other members that what is shared within the confines of the group will remain private.

The next time you think to yourself, “No one else knows what I am going through,” just know that you are not alone. Group therapy is special in that it can offer healing through interpersonal connections of members and fine-tuning skills which can be utilized outside of the group setting.

“Some cannot loosen their own chains yet can nonetheless liberate their friends.”

— Nietzsche