Questions About Group Therapy?
Curious about Group Therapy? Intrigued by Group Therapy? Worried about Group Therapy? Maybe all of the above? If you’ve asked questions or don’t know exactly what to expect about group therapy, it’s completely normal to feel this way. As a counselor and Denver therapist who works with clients around personal growth, I want to assure clients that there are so many benefits and advantages to group therapy! However, I know that the idea of meeting a group of strangers and sharing deep and personal information can, understandably, sound dubious and bring up feelings of anxiety. Whether you want help processing trauma for personal growth or you want support in managing anxiety, finding ways to connect with others in genuine friendship can be life-giving.
What many who aren’t familiar with therapy groups don’t yet know is that these groups are not only structured to create a safe space for sharing, but can also promote growth and relief more immediately than individual therapy.
Here’s a little bit about what to expect from a therapy group experience.
What to Expect in Group Therapy
Group Therapy Feels Safe
First and foremost, just as in individual therapy, what is shared in a therapy group remains confidential. All therapy group members agree to respect each other’s privacy and anonymity. What happens in the group stays in the group! In a high-quality therapy group, your facilitator will create clear boundaries and expectations. They will discuss with everyone the focus, objectives, and rules of the therapy group so that everyone is on the same page and can feel safe.
Group Therapy Is Flexible
It’s also important to know that, while you will benefit most from sharing in the group, what you share and your pace of opening up is entirely up to you. Feeling particularly vulnerable today? Not in a great mood? That’s okay. You can show up to the group as you are and find support.
Group Therapy Is Supportive
It is, in fact, the opportunity to find belonging that contributes to the unique benefits of a therapeutic group. As wonderful and helpful as individual therapy can be, it simply doesn’t offer some of the growth opportunities you will find in a group therapy setting.
Benefits of Group Therapy
You Are Not Alone.
Often we feel that our struggles are unique. This contributes to a sense of ourselves as an outsider, intrinsically flawed, impossible to understand or maybe even help. While it is true that we are all unique, we share common challenges. Hearing that others, too, feel insecure, have anxiety, or repeat the same relationship patterns helps us to believe we are not so abnormal after all. If experience is the best teacher, listening to the stories of our peers is an experience that can change our own idea of ourselves in a profound and direct way rarely found outside of the group therapy setting. This can be especially helpful if you’re going through something really hard, like a breakup or divorce.
You Give And Get Support.
Belonging to a group immediately expands your support system. Being exposed to fresh perspectives, becoming inspired by the struggles and triumphs of others, brainstorming together, and experiencing the genuine expression of curiosity or concern are just some of the ways group members support each other. Stepping out of your own struggles to support someone else is also cathartic and therapeutic in itself, providing a special feeling of purpose and contribution.
You Learn New Relational Skills.
What better place to put new skills to task, than in a group of those with whom you’ve bonded and feel understood, not judged? The group experience lets you not only talk about what changes you want to make, but also allows you to practice these new changes in a safe, more comfortable atmosphere. The therapy group enables us to “dip our toe in the waters” of change with others who, themselves, deeply understand and even share the nature of our struggles.
You Find Your Voice.
For those of us who would like to improve our relationship skills, becoming part of a group propels us forward. In a therapy group, we increase our self-awareness, learn how to articulate our thoughts and feelings, and become competent at carving out a space for ourselves within a team. This unique opportunity increases our confidence with others in ways we can put to use practically in our daily lives.
You Listen And Learn.
Even if you are having an “off” day, have less to share, or are feeling a bit sheepish, you can benefit from simply listening to the other members of your group. Supporting others by just being there creates growth, deepens insight, and promotes new, fulfilling relationship experiences. Come as you are, whether that means you are feeling eager to get things off your chest, wanting to ask for help, or ready to let your support system take the lead.
Group Therapy Costs Less.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Due to the nature of groups and participation of several members, these therapy sessions simply cost less than private therapy. [How much does therapy cost?] This means that therapy groups make support, growth, and change available to many who wouldn’t otherwise be able to take advantage of therapy.
Groups Aren’t Just For Therapy.
While traditional, Yalom-style group therapy is enormously helpful for people, coaching groups are also a fantastic, effective, and affordable way to launch your personal growth.
What’s The Difference Between Group Therapy And Group Coaching?
The differences between group therapy and group coaching are subtle, and more about the intention and format of the group than the actual experience. Group therapy is wonderful in helping you identify your old patterns and gain insight into how you interact with others. Coaching groups are affordable, effective ways to set goals, learn skills and strategies, and get accountability. Whether it’s tackling the question of how to optimize happiness and success or remain resilient in a chaotic world, coaching groups may be just the right uplifting place to become inspired.
While therapy groups provide skills, strategies, and accountability, group coaching also gives you insight and self-awareness. The biggest difference between group therapy and group coaching is that group therapy can be used to help people struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression while group coaching is for the purpose of self-improvement and goal attainment, such as improving your relationships, or advancing in your career.
Group coaching has many of the same benefits of group therapy. They both offer support and guidance; they allow for “the group experience;” they both teach you skills and strategies; they each provide accountability; they are both less expensive than private life coaching or career coaching. However, group coaching has one significant advantage over group therapy: You can attend group coaching online.
Online Group Coaching
An online coaching group allows you to attend the group from the privacy of your own home, and is often more convenient for many people. People can attend their coaching group at home after the kids are in bed, while they’re traveling, or even during a lunch break. You can also attend your coaching group if you’re in a different state or a different country. This leads to an increased diversity of perspectives and opinions, which is a major advantage to coaching group participants.
Turbocharge Your Growth
You can probably see how effective and encouraging groups can be, particularly around helping us understand, improve, and even like ourselves more in the context of relationships. Interacting with others is such an integral part of our happiness and wellness. Finding our place in a group helps us create more fulfilling and meaningful relationships, both in the short-term (within the group) and in the long-term future we dream of creating. Effective groups also provide us with insight, guidance, new ideas, skills, strategies, and accountability — all more affordably than private therapy or life coaching. Groups offer value, meaningful experiences, and are effective tools for growth. What’s not to love?
Meet Kathleen: an experienced therapist and life coach with a gentle but powerful style. She can help you build your self-esteem, heal after living through hard things, and create strong, meaningful relationships in a non-judgmental, productive space where you will feel safe, comfortable, and understood.