Have you ever wondered what group therapy is all about? Portrayals of fictional group therapy are all over; on TV, in the movies and in literature. But what is real group therapy like? And why would anyone want to open up their soul to other people who are not friends or family?
Everyone has been in a group of some sort. Most of people have been in many. In elementary school students are grouped together by skill level for reading or math. In high school they’re put into groups for projects. Adults are in work groups, church groups, AA, or groups of friends.
All these groups have distinct purposes: to educate, to construct, to build, to learn, to support, or to socialize. In a similar manner, group therapy has a purpose. This is different depending on what type of group therapy you’re in.
Some therapy groups focus on a particular topic – survivors of incest, veterans, divorcees.
Other therapy groups are dedicated to a skill, such as anger management or DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy, a treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder).
There is also a type of group therapy whose purpose is simply therapy done in a group, where members share struggles and concerns, and provide feedback and support to one another with help and guidance from a trained therapist.
Therapy groups differ in their timeline; some are ongoing and may meet for years, with individuals coming and going. Others are time-specific, and members agree to meet for a certain period of time.
Groups can allow new members to join (called being an open group), or keep the same members for as long as the group exists (called a closed group). These things are decided ahead of time.
Group therapy can be used in place of individual therapy, or in addition to it.
Why would someone decide to be part of group therapy? There are some clear benefits that being a member of a therapy group provide:
Group therapy an be an excellent choice for many people. Groups can be found by asking your individual therapist or counselor, by searching online, calling community mental health centers or hospitals, or by asking friends or family.
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Last reviewed: 4 Aug 2012