Group therapy has clients participating with others in a group session, on a regular basis, such as weekly, fortnightly, monthly. Numbers of participants in a therapy group range from about six to ten or twelve members, and depending upon the type of group, number of attendants may fluctuate. The main dynamic of group therapy is that you will be interacting with a number of people at the same time that may, or may not, be facing similar issues to the ones you face.
In the US and the UK, the idea of trying group therapy and developing a way to practice this form of psychotherapy evolved at approximately the same time, after World War II. Having been used as a common therapeutic means for many years in clinical and mental health practice, research on group therapy’s evolution and impact noted that many people benefited from the group experience far more effectively and rapidly than in individual sessions. This type of therapy may also cost less, as the investment per set of group sessions is less than the investment in individual sessions.
Group therapy may or may not be common issue based. The group may be made up of people who are working on enhancing life or professional skills but who may not have a specific challenge or an issue in common. Groups can be specifically focused in areas such as
A group may also be composed of people whom a therapist handpicks. The reason a therapist may directly influence in choice in choice of members is because the goal is to create a group environment of people who are motivated and willing to participate and will fit and work well together.
Issue specific groups may mean anyone can join without prior therapist approval, though a therapist can ask someone who is disruptive to the group to leave.
Participation in Group therapy can be in a time limited or a continuous group.
For both there is usually a required minimum number of group participants for the group to be of benefit, often a minimum of 4 or 6 to start.
Some of the benefits of group therapy include helping each participant realise the universality of his or her condition, or opinion of self, or struggle in life. That they are not alone. Other people may be facing the same challenges, fears or struggles, which often helps group participants feel less isolated.
People have the opportunity to help each other in groups, and these acts of altruism, where concern for the welfare of others is displayed in the group, may lift spirits and bring more connection and hope to life.
Another element experienced by many is that hearing and witnessing other people struggle with and begin to discuss their issues can be cathartic, providing a means to express emotions more freely as we are impacted by other people recounting their stories versus getting caught in our own struggle to share ours.