During my summer internship with SteadyNYC, I have thoroughly enjoyed co-facilitating our Get Grounded Group Series. I believe group therapy is a useful tool to support emotional and mental health and growth. So, I’ve decided to share a bit more information about Group Therapy with you all!

What is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a version of “traditional” psychotherapy during which multiple patients attend the same session to discuss and describe issues under the supervision of one or more therapists.  It aims to help patients manage mental health symptoms, cope with negative behaviors/habits, and rebound from negative experiences, using proven techniques for problem management.

Different types of group therapy, based on mental health conditions or psycho-education goals, are readily available at many locations, for example, mental health clinics and private practices, hospitals, and community centers.

What to Expect in Group Therapy?

            Groups often meet for one-to-two hours weekly and include between three and 15 patients. Some patients attend these therapy sessions in addition to individual therapy, while others only attend group sessions.

Depending on the therapist running the therapy session, the focus of Group Therapy is different.  It often focuses on a specific topic, for example loss/grief or social anxiety.

Different Topics of Group Therapy:

  • Depression
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance Use Disorder
  • Phobias
  • Panic Disorder

Group Therapy can also focus on other topics, which are not specific mental health disorders like:

  • Grief/Loss
  • Domestic Violence
  • Anger Management
  • Shyness/Loneliness
  • Procrastination
  • Cultural or Racial Trauma
  • Chronic Pain or Illness
  • Obesity
  • Weight Loss

Different Types of Group Therapy:

Psychoeducational Groups:

Psychoeducation focused group therapy is centered around educating participants about a specific condition and providing new, adaptive coping strategies, to replace previous maladaptive practices.

Specific conditions include but are not limited to anxiety disorders (generalized or social), substance use disorders, etc.

Skills Development Groups:

            Skills Development groups attempt to introduce and improve skills necessary to coping with mental health conditions.

Skills development groups share similarities with psychoeducational groups; however, the goal of skills development is to leave you with stronger cognitive and behavioral resources, allowing you to make better choices and avoid effects of negative situations.

Cognitive Behavioral Groups

Cognitive Behavioral Groups focus on identifying and restructuring distorted, negative, and/or maladaptive beliefs that subsequently lead to negative behaviors, emotional responses, and thought processes.

These groups try to increase your understanding of those negative beliefs in hopes of providing you with strategies to manage a behavior. For example, cognitive behavioral groups on substance use disorder may begin by identifying environments, social situations, and emotional states, which trigger substance use.

Support Groups

Support groups are a little different from traditional “group therapy” focusing on a mental health condition. Instead support groups focus on helping you manage difficult life changes, for example, the death of a significant other.

Such support groups not only encourage you to give and receive unconditional acceptance, while processing difficult feelings and situations, but also encourage you to consider personal beliefs and behaviors resulting from said loss.

What are the benefits of Group Therapy? / Why is Group Therapy helpful?

            Joining group therapy can be intimidating for some – it is not always easy to join a room full of strangers and talk about intimate problems or feelings – but it can benefit you in ways that may not be provided during individual therapy. According to the American Psychological Association, new members to group therapy are regularly surprised by how satisfying and fulfilling these environments are.

            Not only are you shown that you are not alone in your struggle, whether it be loss, depression, or social anxiety, but groups also provide a support network. This network allows other attendees to share their experiences and reflect on ideas for coping with specific challenges and can help keep you stay accountable along your journey. Additionally, talking and listening to others who are experiencing struggles similar to yours allows you to put your struggles in perspective. As such group therapy may provide more relief for the individual.

            Another important benefit of group therapy is diversity. Group therapy brings people with different personalities and different backgrounds together. This diversity provides different perspectives and strategies to problem solving, encouraging members to understand other ways to face one’s own struggles.

How to know if group therapy is right for me?

  • If you are social and like to share your experience with others, group therapy might be a good option.
  • If you would like to hear others share their personal experiences and give you a new perspective, this type of therapy is a great place to meet and learn from others like you.
  • If you are new to therapy and want to see what therapy is about, but are not ready to commit to individual therapy, this type of therapy session might be a good option.
  • Many people report enjoying and/or benefitting from knowing that others share similar struggles to their own.

SteadyNYC is excited to announce we will be offering new groups in the fall. If you or someone you know is interested to learn more, please contact us.

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About the author
Maya Sakharov

Maya hopes to become a clinical therapist and is very passionate about helping people heal and achieve their full potential. Maya feels it is an honor and a privilege to spend the summer working with SteadyNYC as she continues to grow her knowledge in this field.