Divulging your innermost thoughts and secrets to a professional therapist is challenging enough, but imagine standing up in front of a group of people, people who you know nothing about, people who know nothing about you, people who are literally strangers; and sharing your deepest feelings with them. Sounds terrifying right? So why is it then that group therapies are so successful? Why is it that many counselors and therapists actually encourage and conduct group therapies?
Group therapies or group counselling was first started in the early 1900s, it was found successful in treating patients suffering from TB, further, it was used majorly after World War II to help soldiers who suffered from PTSD after returning from combat and also used to help people who had emotional reactions to the war. Since then, the value and success of group therapies has only grown.
So what is it that make group therapies so successful? Probably the biggest advantage of group therapies is helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have the same problems. This is often a revelation and a huge relief to the person. Being part of group therapy can also help you develop new skills to relate to others. In addition, the members of the group who have the same problems can support each other and may suggest new ways of dealing with a particular problem.
Another big plus factor for group therapies is, since there are people who are at different stages of recovery, patients who are seen to be coping with their problem can serve as role models for other members in the group. In this way, a sense of hope is generated and this in turn helps foster feelings of success and accomplishment.
Branching off from group therapies are support groups. The basic idea is relatively the same, however in group therapies a psycho- therapist is present. The therapist will head the session, with a little participation from the patients. Support groups on the other hand are organizations of people who share a common disorder, there is no therapist present, however, one of the more experienced members usually takes charge.
There are support groups and group therapies or counselling for nearly any psychological issue under the sun. A few nationally recognized organisations are; National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and so on.
To conclude, all I can say is this; I know the thought of group therapies and support groups are absolutely terrifying, but the pros definitely out way the cons. So if you had your doubts about group counselling before, I suggest you give it a shot. I know I would!
- Cherry, K. (2016, June 4). https://www.verywell.com. Retrieved July 26, 2016, from https://www.verywell.com/what-is-group-therapy-2795760: https://www.verywell.com/what-is-group-therapy-2795760
- Schachter, R. (1995). https://www.adaa.org. Retrieved July 26, 2016 , from https://www.adaa.org/sites/: https://www.adaa.org/sites/default/files/Schachter%20168.pdf
- (2005). http://www.webmd.com. Retrieved July 26, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/: http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/anxiety-support-group
[Contributed by Savia Gonsalves, undergraduate student of psychology during her internship.]