As patients begin the therapeutic process, it will be crucial to find the treatment methods that work best for them. These may vary widely, depending on factors such as the substance abuse or mental health difficulties each client has endured. In certain cases, the client may be a proper candidate for either individual therapy, group therapy or a combination of both. Group therapy naturally has a number of differences from individual therapy, allowing for a more dynamic interaction between patients.
How it works
A group therapist will first select a group of patients, ranging from about five to ten people. One focus is for patients to share and learn from each other’s experiences. The therapist will direct the discussion, which is encouraged to be open and sincere. Group therapy may serve a number of different purposes, such as how to better control cognitive symptoms associated with a condition or build interpersonal skills. A patient may see advantages from a combination of group and individual therapies.
Before a group therapy session is formed, the mental health professional will first need to examine the difficulties of each patient individually. Not every patient may be suffering from the same disorder. Of course, some patients may be wary or embarrassed at first about sharing their troubles with others. However, once trust and understanding develops, these feelings usually subside. The client will be able to discuss similar symptoms among others in the group. Naturally, this will be in a confidential environment to help ease privacy concerns of patients.
The overall length of the treatment period will depend on a number of different factors, such as the severity of a patient’s symptoms. Shorter periods of therapy may last anywhere from six to 20 weeks. Oftentimes, patients will meet each week for an hour or two. However, those dealing with more serious, life threatening ailments, such as HIV, may undergo longer periods of recovery. It should also be noted that group therapy tends to cost about half as much as individual therapy does.
Oftentimes, group therapy will seek to address a specific condition, such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse and more. Some groups work on improving social skills and others work on coping with trauma, such as the loss of a loved one. One benefit of group therapy is that it allows a sufferer to have a different perspective on the issues that he or she faces. A patient may be able to learn from the coping skills and successful methods of another participant.
If clients are looking to participate in a group therapy session, then they should contact their psychologists about getting started. For instance, there are open and closed therapy groups. Open groups allow participants to begin their involvement at any time they wish. On the other hand, a closed therapy group will have all patients begin the treatment at the same time. In this case, a patient may need to wait a number of months until a new group forms.
Patients in a group therapy session should also use their best judgment when it comes to matters of confidentiality. Each person should use discretion in the personal information that they choose to share. Of course, each patient will need to be willing to participate in this form of treatment. It has been shown that group therapy is actually most effective in cases where it is combined with individual therapy.
In order to get the most out of the group therapy experience, there are certain tips and advice patients should follow. He or she should be sure to attend the group on a regular basis and reflect on what has occurred in between sessions. If one feels that a group is not moving in the proper direction, then it will be necessary to speak up and change the focus as needed. Each participant should also not hesitate to attempt new behaviors in their group, as this is one main goal of therapy. Each person should be honest and true to themselves, so that other participants gain actual insight into who they really are.
Those who engage in group therapy should also speak in the first person to make statements sound more powerful. Each patient should only be responsible for him or herself, but not others in the group, as this will not help those who are overly dependent on others. It will also be critical to be a good listener, with all participants having an opportunity to talk. When offering feedback, don’t hesitate to share both positive points and what could be improved. There should be no room for blame or judgment of others and respect should be maintained at all times. By following these guidelines, each participant will have the opportunity to gain as much as possible from group therapy.
At Sovereign Health, our holistic treatment program includes individual therapy, group therapy and more. We understand the importance of patients being able to learn from each other in such a setting and help each other grow. We also offer brain wellness therapy and life skills to patients to help them maintain a lasting recovery. To learn more about how we can help you or a loved one overcome a health disorder or substance abuse, contact our admissions team today at (866) 819-0427.
Written by Ryan McMaster, Sovereign Health Group writer