Typically, individual therapy (or counseling) is what people default to when they are experiencing challenging times, with group therapy being a lesser known form of treatment.
As a psychotherapist and social worker, I’ve seen the benefit of both and particularly enjoy working within a group.
During my senior internship in graduate school, our Program Director ensured the student-therapists participated in a therapy group as a member… Not a therapist! Because let's face it, everyone can benefit from support.
Organized group therapy sessions consist of 5-15 individual members, and is usually lead by licensed mental health professionals.
4 Benefits of participating in a group:
Peer support. Hearing the stories from others who are facing similar hardships can be extremely grounding and normalizing. On many psychological levels, you are realizing that you are not in this alone-- you are part of a group!
Emotional connection. Listening to others is the foundation for connection and empathy. In many ways, emotionally connecting with group members gives you the power of perspective for your struggles-- What else is more powerful than being in control of our own perspective?.
Real-time feedback. Group therapy can speed up the therapeutic process. Group members can kindly, and with consent, share their reaction to your experiences or actions which solicits self-reflection and insightfulness.
Trust. Being vulnerable is a strength, although difficult. Showing up, and trusting the group process provides you with a real-life example of what safety feels like. Building upon these good experiences pours into other aspects of our lives. You've created a positive cycle.
Many individuals seek group therapy to not feel so alone and learn from their groups. This type of support shows us that wellness is not an “us” versus “them” problem. We ALL struggle with difficulties, so let's overcome them together.
Garrett Shotwell, MSW, LCSW
Co-Founder | Therapist