Joining a therapy group might sound like something daunting and unfamiliar. You might wonder why you would want to talk to a bunch of strangers about your private thoughts and feelings! Most people are aware of the benefits of attending individual therapy, but group therapy is often as or even more helpful.
Group therapy is when one or more psychologists facilitate a group of approximately five to 15 clients. Usually, groups meet weekly for an hour. There are many different types of groups. Some groups are designed for a specific presenting problem, such as depression, social anxiety or grief. While other groups might be more psychoeducational and focus more on general skills development in areas such as anger management or building self-esteem. Some groups are open which means new members can join over time; while other groups are closed where the same members consistently attend each session.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider group therapy:
To share your story:
Therapy groups can often provide a safe place for members to normalise their shared experiences. One of the biggest problems we are facing at the moment is loneliness – and groups are a wonderful antidote. It is also a special place to find your voice and also receive a much needed sense of being seen and heard.
To receive support:
Sharing one’s difficulties and receiving kindness and understanding is a very healing experience. Sharing also means that members can bounce ideas between each other so that motivation, encouragement and increased knowledge are common outcomes. Talking in a group format also helps members from diverse backgrounds with perspective-taking. Hearing different views on similar topics can be helpful to combat all-or-nothing thinking that many people struggle with.
To reduce costs:
Because your hourly costs for a psychology session are shared amongst the group, group therapy can be a more affordable way to improve your mental health.
To enhance your social skills:
Participating in a group allows group members to practice more effective ways of interacting, test out new styles of communication and use conflict resolution strategies, all within the safety of a group facilitated by a trained psychologist. There are few other ways to get this kind of hands-on practice and feedback. Groups act as a sort of practice ground to then take your new skills out into the real world to use more confidently.
To build hope:
When we can see change in others, it can offer us the motivation to see, or at least consider, change for ourselves as well. Groups can become encouraging spaces for members to build and share hopeful stories, not only stories of problems. More minds are better than one! And in a group format, you have more members thinking about creative solution-finding and problem-solving.
Hopefully these 5 benefits of group therapy have helped you consider group therapy as either your primary mental health support, or as an adjunct to your individual therapy journey.
Michelle Nortje (M.A. Clin Psych, B.Psych Hons, B.Ed.Psych Hons, BA) is focused on establishing a therapeutic relationship that is safe, trusting and supportive. Michelle aims to use integrated psychological tools and approaches in order to help her clients make sense of their difficulties, gain insight into their patterns of behaviour and relating, and work towards co-constructed and workable goals. She uses Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Positive Psychology, mindfulness-based approaches, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Attachment theories and psychodynamic theories in order to tailor the therapy to best suit the client’s needs.
Michelle’s clinical training and diverse experience have equipped her to intervene in a variety of mental health issues and age groups. She has gained experience working as a clinical psychologist across non-profit, government hospital, school-based and private settings. Across all her roles, Michelle has expanded on her interest in working with children, adolescents and adults experiencing a range of mental health difficulties such as anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, adjustment difficulties, trauma and grief.
Michelle is dedicated to consistent professional development by engaging in peer consultation groups, receiving regular supervision and expanding her knowledge through frequent webinars and courses in order to ensure effective interventions with her clients.