You may be overwhelmed with the prospect of becoming involved in group therapy, but there are actually numerous advantages of group counseling that may appeal to you. These groups are typically comprised of between 4 and 15 people. They're led by a qualified facilitator or two. These group leaders are usually social workers, psychologists or other mental health professionals who are trained in both group dynamics and the specific issue of focus. Sessions occur once or twice per week on a short-term basis, up to a few months, or long-term, continuing for years. While groups vary in type and format, a common thread is that members have the opportunity to work on improving their lives in a supportive, structured environment. Continue reading to discover some of the ways group counseling is beneficial to participants.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of group therapy is the opportunity to see that others are struggling in similar ways. Individual counseling doesn't offer this kind of personal insight into the experiences of others. Your feelings of isolation will likely become lessened as you begin to hear the stories of others and realize they struggle, as well. Whether you're dealing with anger management issues, anxiety, depression or other life struggle, group counseling offers a space of validation and understanding.
2. Interpersonal Interaction
Group sessions are the perfect place to practice interpersonal relations and to improve social skills. It's quite common for those dealing with mental health issues or other life struggles to experience difficulties in their relationships. During group work, you will be able to interact with other members, with the facilitator helping to process the interactions. This processing enables members to gain an understanding of others' points of view and to learn healthy ways of communicating or resolving differences. Through observing the actions of members, along with your own, you can gain tremendous insight into your own behavior, too.
Group sessions can be even more powerful than individual work with a counselor because you are able to receive support from more than one source. This is one of the primary advantages of group counseling. In group therapy, the counselor isn't the only one to offer feedback. Instead, the group facilitator encourages members to offer feedback, suggestions and support throughout the session. The support of multiple people can be quite effective in motivating change and validating feelings.
The members of your therapy group can become your sounding board. They can provide you with feedback that helps you to see a situation more clearly or realistically. It's human nature to perceive things through your on lens. For example, you may be harder on yourself regarding a perceived mistake than is actually necessary. Your newfound therapeutic support system can help you to reframe the incident, seeing it in a more realistic light. It's important to note that group members won't simply tell you what you want to hear. It is typical to expect honest responses from members, but this type of counseling teaches everyone involved how to do so in a constructive, helpful way.
As you get to know your group, you may begin to notice that you find yourself thinking of them and how they may react to various scenarios you encounter each week between sessions. This realization can cause you to reconsider the ways in which you would normally react to a particular situation. This desire to want to report positive outcomes to your peers can be incredibly motivational.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what to expect from group work. The advantages of group counseling are many, as are the rewards.