What’s so special about group therapy?

By Michelle F. Moseley, MS, LCMHC, NCC (she/her)

You may think of psychotherapy as one person, or perhaps a couple or family, interacting with a licensed mental health provider in an office. Perhaps you’re even familiar with therapy conducted via telehealth, which has become more utilized in the past year. What about group therapy? What comes to mind when you read those words? If you’re basing your image of portrayals in pop culture, your response to that question could be a bit scary. 

When you boil it down, group therapy is 3 or more people who are not from the same family unit gathering, either in person or virtually, for a specified amount of time to have a discussion/experience facilitated by a licensed mental health professional. Therapy groups may be open, meaning anyone can join or exit at any time, or closed, where a specified group of people meet and others are not able to join once the group has been formed. Groups may vary in size, often dependent on the type and purpose of the group. 

Some therapy groups are educational, allowing multiple people to gather and gain information about a specific topic. These groups often tend to be larger and include less discussion than other types of groups. Other therapy groups may focus on allowing group members to discuss and process experiences, allowing for much more discussion amongst group members. Learning specific skills, such as ways to cope more effectively with anxiety or skills to help you be more assertive in your relationships, may be a focus of a therapy group. Group therapy could also be focused around a specific topic which affects all group members. Many therapy groups include aspects of each of the listed types. 

You may be wondering why someone would choose to participate in a group therapy experience. What’s so special about group therapy? 

Logistical Benefits. Some folks are drawn to group therapy based on logistics. Group therapy appointments often a regularity of day/time for therapy that may not be accessible otherwise. Often, group therapy is a time-limited commitment that is pre-determined before you begin. Financially, group therapy may be more accessible due to factors such as lower cost than individual sessions, or feeling you receive a good value for your money with the focused nature of some therapy groups. 

Relational Benefits. Therapy groups often provide a sense of connection with others – recognizing ‘I’m not the only one struggling with this.’ In a skills-focused group, you may be able to connect with other participants to practice the skills you’re learning. Many of us have experienced intense hurt in relationships with others, and the interaction with a group therapy setting can allow for healing that may not be accessible in other ways. 

Overall Benefits. Group therapy provides a unique experience to join with others and experience the power of hope. At times, you may be the one in need of hope that things can be different, and find that hope through other folks involved in the group. At other times, you may be able to offer that hope to your fellow group members. It’s a phenomenon where somehow the individual group members become something bigger than the sum of the parts when they come together in the group setting. Participants in group therapy can gain knowledge, skills, healing, connection, and hope through their involvement. 

Behavioral Healthcare Associates, LLC (BHA, LLC) has provided several group therapy options for the community of Lee County and surrounding areas. These have been provided both in-person and via telehealth. Prior group options include: an educational and interactive group focused on assertive skills, an adolescent coping skills group focused on struggles with depression and anxiety, and a group focused on understanding and coping with stress related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Future groups will include the upcoming (scheduled to begin August 5th) Body Mindfulness Group, which will focus on healing your relationship with your body and caring for the body you have. If you are interested in this or other future group therapy offerings, please reach out to BHA, LLC at 919-292-1464 or info@dbabha.org 

Behavioral Healthcare Associates, LLC (BHA) is a comprehensive mental health practice with experienced licensed therapists and a Board-Certified Child/Adolescent and General Psychiatrist available to assess and treat general mental health and substance use concerns. If you are interested in future group therapy options, or seeking assistance with other emotional and behavioral health concerns, please contact us at 919-292-1464 to schedule an appointment, or find more information at our website http://www.behavioralhealthcareassociates.org