Does Group Therapy Work?

Group therapy has been shown to be an effective tool for personal growth and healing. While group therapy has been shown to be just as effective as individual therapy, there are additional benefits gained by being with others while engaging in treatment.¹

There are many mental health resources available, and group therapy is one that is popular for a number of reasons—but, first, let’s cover what group therapy looks like.

What Is Group Therapy?

Typically groups are created to address a topic or a particular issue. Groups can be centered around topics such as:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • Substance Abuse
  • Phobias
  • Chronic Pain
  • Anger Management
  • Grief and Loss
  • Low Self-Esteem

Groups tend to be about 5 to 12 people, and there may be one or more practitioners who lead the group. Groups are typically structured to make sure that all the participants will be able to get the most out of the group therapy experience by making sure everyone is a good fit with the others in the group.²

Benefits of Group Therapy

Group therapy can offer benefits and experiences that are just not possible in individual therapy. The experience of being with a group of people who are going through similar experiences has been shown to provide a sense of community and offers opportunities for personal growth.³

Much has been written about the particular benefits of group therapy. One of the founding pioneers of group therapy, Irvin Yalom, outlined certain characteristics that make group therapy unique. Some of them are:

  • Instilling Hope in that being with other members of the group who may be farther along in their progress demonstrates future possibilities.
  • Universality is the idea that we are not alone in our problems.
  • Sharing Information is the experience of learning from others who have similar experiences.
  • Altruism is when being in a group and sharing your experience feels good because it is helping others.
  • Catharsis is when emotions can be expressed and processed in order to reach a healthy resolution.⁴

While some of these characteristics of group therapy can sound like they might be overwhelming or scary, the presence of the professional practitioner who is facilitating the group will help everyone through any challenges that come up. In fact, these moments that may feel challenging are exactly why group therapy is a unique experience that can bring growth and healing in ways that individual therapy cannot.³

Why Therapists Love Group Therapy

Many professionals here at Balance Treatment Center who facilitate group therapy have their own reasons why they find it fulfilling for themselves and their patients who come to group sessions. These quotes from a few of our practitioners highlight what draws them to help others in this way:

Gali Gill, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Balance Treatment Center’s Clinical Director, said: “In group therapy I get to actually SEE how a client responds and react to others rather than hearing about how they respond after the fact. It is an accelerated form of therapy in which clients can develop new and supportive relationships.”

Program Director and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Coraline Robinson had this to say: “Group therapy is less isolating and the client is held accountable to the group as well as the therapist each week. It is also more cost-effective because it is more direct and intensive.”

She went on to say, “Group therapy is an opportunity to find oneself among others and recreate the parts one wishes to reinvent. It is a safe place to try out different ways of interacting and being in the world.”

Ms. Robinson also shared that “As a therapist, I am not an expert on anyone else’s life. Being in the group brings the power of multiple perspectives, which can create insight and change for the group members through sharing the experiences of their peers and interactions in the group.”

Unique Gains Created by Group Therapy

Balance Treatment Center professionals who facilitate group therapy have also found that the unique experiences created by the group can help patients grow. Here is some of what they had to say about the effectiveness of group therapy:

Jenny Rogge, one of the Program Directors and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, stated “Individual therapy alone might be restrictive since it cannot uncover the whole range of deep emotions buried. In group therapy, the different personalities can bring a range of emotional reactions that help to create understanding for the client. The changes thus achieved tend to be more permanent and definite.”

She also said, “I’ve witnessed more growth and insight for clients than in my individual work and have seen clients gain better control over their emotions, behaviors, and lives.”

Lesley Andrews-Wise, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Balance Treatment Center, said, “There is something that happens with group therapy sessions that individual therapy can’t address. This is the cohesion that happens, and it benefits the clients because when they realize that they are not alone and others have similar impairments or struggles, they become empowered to assist each other and become accountable to each other instead of just to the therapist.”

Group Therapy as a Path Forward

Group therapy is a proven and fruitful way to help improve your overall mental health, stay focused in your recovery, and treat disorders such as depression and anxiety or PTSD and phobias. Committing to the process is an important first step. Everyone has some fears when starting out, and making a pledge to yourself and others is a good way to strengthen your commitment.

Most people experience days in group therapy when they may not feel up to sharing, and that’s okay. It’s all right to have a day when you are quiet in the group. Remembering that what you say in group not only helps you, but will likely benefit someone else with similar issues, may help you feel braver about sharing.⁵

Group Therapy at Balance Treatment Center

Reach out to us here at Balance Center today to find out more about group therapy and how it can help you. Our team of professionals is here to help all people grow by eliminating the obstacles blocking the path toward wholeness so that our clients can create, pursue, and achieve the goals that add meaning to their lives. Call us toll free at (855) 414-8100. We are here to help.