You’ve felt alone for too long. You’ve decided that you’re ready to get help for your depression or anxiety. Where do you start?
If you are eager to build coping strategies that will help you make and mend relationships, group therapy is a great place to start. But how do you know if it’s right for you?
If you are considering group therapy as part of treatment for anxiety or depression, read on to learn about the benefits and challenges of this life-changing therapeutic modality.
Group therapy is not only a solution for those in recovery from addiction or substance abuse disorders. It is also a form of psychotherapy for those looking for support with behavioral health issues, such as depression or anxiety. But what is group therapy, and how can it support those with mood and anxiety disorders?
In essence, group therapy is talk therapy delivered in a group environment. It is an opportunity for those suffering from behavioral, mood, and anxiety disorders to heal alongside others with the same challenges. A qualified therapeutic practitioner is present to help you navigate your feelings and experiences.
If hearing that makes you feel vulnerable, that’s normal. Many people are nervous about undergoing any kind of therapy in a group setting. Before you begin, it’s essential to understand the benefits of group therapy.
One of the most significant benefits of group therapy is the group itself! The other members attending your therapy group will be dealing with similar challenges and successes.
It can be important to see others going through the process of healing. Listening to others can put your own mental health journey into context and provide hope.
The other members of the group can also help provide solutions for your most challenging moments. Others will have gone through similar situations and can share stories, advice, and words of affirmation or comfort. You will be able to gain a new perspective on your struggles by filtering your experience through the narratives of others in the group.
Another incredible benefit is the accountability that group therapy provides. Some therapists will assign simple “therapy homework” in the form of skills or strategies to try. Having accountability as you implement these new, sometimes difficult strategies can be a significant factor in encouraging positive behavioral changes.
Some people with mood or anxiety disorders do not have support from friends or family. A support group provides a community. Your group will give you feedback, provide kinship, and illuminate truth.
The therapeutic practitioner is also a wonderful resource. They will bring experience in a particular form of therapy. You will be receiving high-quality mental health support from the group facilitator. Members often come away from the experience with techniques and strategies that they can apply immediately.
Group therapy also comes with challenges that can make engaging in healing difficult.
Foremost, it can be difficult to embrace vulnerability in front of a group of peers. If you are unwilling to discuss your challenges, it can be harder to engage in the process. It may take some time before you are ready to engage with the therapist or group deeply.
Because your group members may be dealing with challenges in their lives, it’s also possible that meetings will get intense. Remember that the other group members are attending therapy to learn the skills they need to improve their relationships. That means that issues with communication and defensive behavior are a natural part of healing and growth.
The other group members are complex individuals with lives and histories. Some will be introverts, others extroverts. Personalities can sometimes clash, leading to heated discussions or even arguments.
Gaining insight into the perspective of others is a significant part of what makes group therapy so effective. Your therapist will do his or her best to make sure that all members feel safe. They will not leave you to deal with conflict or complicated feelings on your own!
The two types of therapy traditionally utilized in group therapy are Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Each approach has its own associated group therapy techniques and practices.
DBT is traditionally used to treat mood disorders and address associated concerns, such as self-harm or suicidal ideation. For this reason, it’s often used in group therapy for depression. DBT focuses on self-acceptance and emotional regulation.
CBT is more likely to be used during group therapy for anxiety. The focus of CBT is on noticing and challenging your standard patterns of thinking. There is a significant focus on solving problems and practicing coping strategies.
Neither form of therapy is “better” than the other, but one might be more appropriate for your particular situation. Some therapists might incorporate journaling as part of the “therapy homework” that they assign. Others may ask you to reflect on situations as you experience them and critically examine your thinking and responses.
Every therapeutic practitioner is different, regardless of the form of therapy they practice. Talk to them about what you can expect during and after a session. It’s their job to make you comfortable, so there should be no surprises.
Group therapy can be an incredible opportunity to meet others who are dealing with similar mental health challenges. It provides an opportunity for authentic and meaningful connection. If you are ready to learn new strategies that can improve your life, group therapy might be right for you.
Reach out today to learn more about the group therapy services we offer for adults and adolescents.