When you picture therapy, what do you imagine? Is it you, laying on a couch talking to a therapist about your relationship with your parents? A common assumption about therapy is that there’s only one way to do it, but there isn’t one single way to approach therapy. There are different modalities that therapists use, and there are therapy setups that aren’t just one on one. Different types of therapy that you may have heard of are individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.
Hearing the phrase “group therapy” might immediately make you feel uncomfortable. You might feel like you could never open up in a group of strangers. It’s already complicated enough opening up to a therapist. That’s a valid concern! However, in our experience as Houston counselors, members get so much more out of groups than they think they will. Group therapy can help you realize that you’re not alone.
You don’t have to be an extrovert to benefit from group therapy. Even folks who don’t share as much in our groups find that just being around people with similar issues can be validating. It can be beneficial to share in a group setting, and it can be just as beneficial to absorb what the rest of the group members are sharing. In fact, group therapy can be ideal for introverts! Because there is a larger number of people who are there to share, it takes some of the pressure off each individual to contribute.
Group therapy lets you practice social skills
Socializing is scary sometimes. This is especially true after the past year, where we’ve been cut off from our usual social lives and supports. After so long out of practice, the idea of dealing with people might be intimidating or causing anxiety. Groups give you a chance to practice your social skills in a safe setting. There’s a therapist there to facilitate things, and everyone in the group is there for a mutual purpose. You can learn interpersonal skills in group therapy, like productive ways to deal with conflict, how to advocate for yourself and others, and how to hold space for others, which you can then take to your life outside of the group.
Group therapy can be motivating
Group therapy gives you a chance to see what other folks in your situation do. You can learn from the other group members and avoid their mistakes. It can also be motivating to see others make changes in their lives. Sometimes seeing folks around us making changes can inspire us to follow suit and improve our lives for the better. It can be crucial to get the perspective of other people in your situation, since they’re more familiar with what’s going on and can give more specific feedback or advice.
Groups can hold you accountable
Another benefit of group therapy is that other group members can help hold you accountable to your goals. It can be tempting to make big plans and never follow through, but when you share your goals with others, it gives you and outside source of accountability. Other group members might ask you about how things are going, or encourage you to keep going. You might even find someone in the group with similar goals to yours, so you could become accountability buddies and support each other.
Groups give you a sense of perspective
We often get so caught up in our own negative thoughts that we don’t realize what’s going right for us. Even though everyone’s experiences and feelings are valid, it can be eye opening to see what other people are going through. Finding others who are going through what you’re going through can make you feel less alone. It can be such a relief to realize that you’re not the only person going through something, and that connection from shared experiences can be powerful.
Groups can be flexible
Groups are usually offered both in person and online, so you can find one that works for you and your personal preferences. Finding a group online can help you join groups that wouldn’t normally be available to you. Also, since you aren’t the only participant, if you can’t make a session, the group can still go on if some members can’t attend.
Group therapy exposes us to diversity
When we join a therapy group, we’re exposed to people of all backgrounds and walks of life. These are people you might not get a chance to connect with and learn from normally. Hearing the stories of others can help shine a light on things we’re confused about ourselves. Everyone brings their own personality, experiences, and values to the group, which helps everyone learn more about themselves and about how to interact with others.
Group Therapy can be less expensive
Therapy can be enormously helpful, but it is also certainly an expense. Group therapy is usually less expensive than other types of therapy since the cost is generally split amongst the group members. If you’re looking for a way to start therapy in a way that is sustainable for you financially, group therapy can be a great option.