Why Group Therapy? From a Client’s Perspective
For someone who has been part of both group therapy and individual therapy, I am a big advocate for group therapy. I believe that there are many misconceptions about group therapy and I would like to debunk some of them using my own experiences.
Misconception #1: “Group therapy is not as good or as effective as individual therapy.”
Debunk #1: When I was 17, I started both group and individual therapy,at the same time. During this time, I was sent to an adolescent treatment facility for my drug and alcohol addiction. While at rehab, I had multiple group therapy sessions daily, as well as individual therapy every other day. Once I came back to Atlanta, I went to an intensive outpatient treatment center where I was in group therapy three hours a day for three days a week, as well as individual therapy one hour a week. I was in the group therapy for seven months and I believe I learned more about myself and who I am than I have in the eight years of individual therapy, which I still go to weekly. Group therapy was the most effective method of helping me at that point in my life. It helped me learn to live this new life I was given, while seeing others who had come before me be able to do so. I learned about myself through other people and their struggles; I was able to relate and help them while, unknowingly, helping myself.
Misconception #2: “I have trouble talking to people; I’ll never be able to share in a group.”
Debunk #2: Knowing that I did not like talking in front of people about the smallest things, I feared having to talk about the most important and troubling issues going on in my life. Little did I know, being able to do this would have a huge impact on my ability to get sober. I was anxious, worried and felt like I would be judged. I was shocked that, after the second session, it was like I had been there forever. The other members in the group have all been new at some point and get it. Once I began to hear similarities of other peoples’ issues, I felt like I could talk about mine without being judged or looked down on.
Misconception #3: “I will be forced to tell my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets to the group.”
Debunk #3: No one can force you to say what you don’t want to say or aren’t ready to say. I found that after being there for a few sessions, I felt comfortable enough to begin sharing small things and eventually began to open up about deeper thoughts, feelings, and secrets. When you see other group members sharing and then growing from it, it makes you want to do the same. Also, when listening to others and seeing them work on their problems, it would help me see how it would also apply to me and help me with my own problems.
I personally believe that from my own experiences, some of the biggest benefits of group therapy are that it allows you to be less isolated, along with support from others, as you are working on your issues, helps you see that you are not alone, provides multiple perspectives between the counselors and other group members and most importantly, to me, helping others helps you to see your own issues differently and makes you feel like you have something to offer to the other members.
Groups are a safe place where you can try out new behaviors without being judged, improving communication skills, and also being able to receive feedback from other people with similar issues and interests.
JF&CS offers several therapeutic groups dealing with topics such as bereavement, LGBTQ support for teens and parents, divorce support and more. For information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Misconceptions taken from http://www.colum.edu/Students/Health/counseling-services/group-therapy/Common-Misconceptions.php)