Group therapy is a well-regarded therapy modality because life is all about relationships. Think about it: when you identify goals for therapy, they’re largely based around problems that come from your satisfaction with the relationships in your life. Am I right?
In group therapy, you interact and relate with other people, and guess what? The same patterns that show up in your personal life show up in your group therapy relationships! The difference between group therapy and real life? You have your group therapist right there to help facilitate the group interactions, highlight patterns that you might not be seeing, and subtly and gently nudge you to try a new, more satisfying way of relating to other people, and to yourself. Over time, group members take on a lot of the work of the group, sometimes helping you notice your patterns, and sometimes learning from you as you notice their patterns. It’s an incredibly healing experience to try out new ways of being in relationships in the safe cocoon of a therapeutic group.
Irvin Yalom, MD is a distinguished psychiatrist who wrote about 11 therapeutic factors of group therapy. They are:
- Instillation of Hope: You will feel more hopeful as a result of being in a group with other people who share similar struggles, and similar successes!
- Universality: You will begin to feel that you are not alone in your struggles; that someone else has been there before, and therefore you need not feel so isolated.
- Imparting Information: By learning from the group therapist and from each other, you’ll walk away from group more informed about your struggles, coping mechanisms, and also about resources you can seek for help.
- Altriusm: You will contribute something positive to other group members, like helping them feel seen, supported, cared for, and listened to, and then you will feel good yourself about having made a positive impact in someone else’s life and growth!
- Corrective Experiences: You will likely begin to experience positive and satisfying relationships with other group members, including conflict resolution, which might be different from other relationships from your past that went poorly. As a result, this can help you feel that you have “corrected” and old negative experience by having a new positive experience, and you may begin to feel more confident having healthy conflict resolution in other relationships in your life.
- Socializing Techniques: By participating in a regular social activity, you’ll naturally learn and develop your socializing skills such as empathy, tolerance, and other interpersonal skills.
- Imitative Behaviors: You and other group members will subconsiously (or consciously!) observe other group members’ adaptive behaviors and coping skills, and learn to incorporate some of those skills into your own toolbox.
- Interpersonal Learning: You’ll learn to develop more positive interpersonal relationships by doing so in the group setting. Sometimes you or another group member will make a mistake in a group therapy relationship, and then we’ll all learn from it together, and turn it into something positive and useful.
- Group Cohesiveness: You’ll have a sense of belonging to a community, which can help you feel accepted and cared for by others, and can even help you accept and love yourself more.
- Catharsis: You’ll experience and express emotions through self-disclosure, and gain healing from having others witness them in this process.
- Existential Factors: This is the good feeling you get from feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself.
So what do you think? Does that sound exciting and life-changing to you?! Are you ready for group therapy? Contact me to learn more about the groups I’m currently running.