What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy?
“How can group help me reach my goals?” “Will those people be able to relate to me?” “I’m worried about being vulnerable with others I don’t know well.” I often hear these responses when I suggest that clients may benefit from group therapy. However, there are reasons I find it helpful: groups simulate the outside world much more closely than a one-on-one therapy relationship, and thus allows a unique environment for therapeutic exploration.
Many of us struggle with worry about judgment from others--group can be a supportive place to explore these assumptions. Group therapy allows us to gain insight into how we present to the world. Often, many of us have little insight into how others interpret our behavior. Group members can sometimes be more honest with us than those in our personal lives because they have no vested attachment outside of the group environment.
Many of us struggle with building and trusting relationships—group can be helpful as it allows for its members to slowly increase their level of vulnerability. This creates a feeling of trust, and members maintain that trust during weeks, months, and even years of meetings. Group is also a place to confront feelings of social anxiety. It teaches you to tolerate that discomfort while encouraging more frequent participation, or perhaps, to scale back your conversation to focus on active listening.
Many of us suffer in silence with a multitude of struggles because our culture does not promote self-disclosure and vulnerability with others. Group therapy is a place where shared experiences are heard, validated, and appreciated. Hearing your experience told by another can generate extremely profound feelings of closeness and understanding; sometimes, for the first time in one’s life.
So the next time your therapist suggests a group session, give it a try! You may be pleasantly surprised by this new experience.