What is Group Therapy

Tuesday August 24, 2021

What is Group Therapy? 

Group Therapy is a very useful way for people to meet in a safe environment where they can share any problems they may be experiencing. Typically, groups are made up of up to eight people together with a therapist who has trained specifically in the conducting of therapy groups. Group members are encouraged to talk about themselves and how they are experiencing life in the here and now as well as exploring ways in which their past experiences, or patterns of thinking, are influencing the present. 

Being in a group does require some willingness to share but also preparedness to reflect upon the contributions made by fellow group members. Once groups have become established this free-flowing conversation becomes a rich source of material and information which helps each group member explore their own feelings and at the same to experience how they are experienced by others. 

A Hall of Mirrors  

Several writers have likened being a group to being in a Hall of Mirrors. My personal experience of being in a therapy group leads me to agree with this analogy. We all develop an image of who we are as a person. I have certainly had times in my life where I have taken that look at myself in the mirror and had a kind of self-talk – usually for me at stressful moments like going for a job interview or before giving a presentation. In such moments the reflection may confirm positive or negative self-beliefs and the feelings and emotions that inevitably accompany them – “I’m not good enough”, for example. 

In a therapy group setting, you get the enormous benefit of having up to eight other “mirrors” reflecting on your thoughts and emotions. I have found this experience to be incredibly helpful in gently challenging any false self-image I may have of myself. This can happen because my fellow group members reflect back to me their thoughts or ways in which my story resonates with them. From these rich perceptions, I can learn how I am seen by others. This is powerful information to have and certainly has helped me personally with increased self-awareness. Groups have provided this space to learn, develop and grow as a person as well as insights into other ways of thinking and being – much in the way one looks at oneself in the Hall of Mirrors and sees oneself in ways never previously imagined. 

A workout for the inner you 

Group therapy cannot insulate us from any pain and trouble in the future – no therapy situation comes with those kinds of guarantees, but what being in a group can do is help to build up internal resources, a kind of workout for the inner you that helps to build up a kind of resistance to the typical curveballs that life can sometimes throw at us so that a person becomes more able to cope with the problems and frustrations of life. Being part of a therapy group certainly suited me better than individual therapy in this respect. Whilst I was “working out” in the group I realised that I was not alone in my experiences, and I achieved more being part of a kind of therapeutic team. 

Is Group Therapy for me and how does it work? 

Group Therapy is proven to be an effective way of working with many common issues including anxiety, depression and stress. So groups can be effective for most people. Groups have been proven to be effective spaces to work with grief and loss. Whatever a person decides to bring to the group they will experience a sharing of strengths which can boost self-esteem and relieve negative feelings of pain or guilt.  

What are the benefits? 

Rarely will anyone feel isolated and lonely after experiencing the special inter-personal connections groups can engender. 

Group therapy is both supportive and encouraging and as members see what other group members are experiencing much empathy and support is in evidence. Working in groups reduces feelings of been isolated and group members learn so much from each other that they find they have new models of behaviour to think about and perhaps adapt to their own circumstances. 

At UK Counselling Network we have experience in conducting a wide range of groups and our low-cost model makes group therapy very affordable. 

A Paturel  – Power in numbers -Research is pinpointing the factors that make group therapy successful   

Counselling Directory   What is Group Therapy?

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