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Let’s Talk About Group Therapy

What is group therapy? Let’s start simple. Group therapy, or group counseling, is a therapeutic setting where multiple people, who usually do not know each other beforehand, are in a session together with a therapist, or sometimes even two. This type of therapy usually has a specific purpose, goal, or topic, as opposed to an individual therapy session where maybe you talk about whatever you are dealing with.

What are the Types of Group Therapy?

There are different types and styles of group therapy. Some groups are open, meaning that members can come and go, and some are closed, meaning that once the group date starts, no one else can join. Open groups are most common when there is a continual underlying issue such as sobriety, grief, loss, co-dependence groups, etc. All are beneficial, but all serve a specific purpose. The main types of group therapy are:

  • Self-help groups focus on a single issue and are usually led by someone who has personal experience in that topic, but usually not a therapist (i.e., Alcoholics Anonymous).

  • Support groups target a specific population, such as people who have lost a loved one, and provide support from people experiencing similar situations.

  • Psychotherapy groups focus on more intense psychological issues and work towards remediation.

  • Counseling groups: this name sounds general, and it is common. These groups focus on an array of less severe issues and work on problem-solving through interpersonal support.

  • Psychoeducational groups: these groups teach participants about some issue or topic and provide support for dealing with those issues. The focus of these groups is to prevent and learn about issues.

  • Task groups: these groups have a concrete goal and focus. They may involve performing a task such as a community organization or focusing on counseling for a specific task.

What are the Benefits of Group Therapy?

Group therapy has many benefits, as well as some downsides. Pros of group counseling include:

  • Support from others dealing with similar issues

  • Multiple perspectives

  • A less formal environment/less pressure to feel like you need to talk the whole session

  • Providing activities and education that you can use outside of a group

  • Various formats (virtual or in-person, open or closed, etc.)

  • Ability to build relationships that last after the group ends

  • More affordable than individual counseling

Cons of group therapy are also present but usually depend more on the individual’s preference. Cons may include:

  • Feel like you must share when you are not comfortable sharing your experiences with multiple people

  • Less one-on-one time with the therapist

  • Usually, shorter-lived than individual counseling

  • Less time to talk about your issues

What Does a Group Counseling Session Usually Look Like?

Group counseling can take many formats depending on the type of group, the structure (virtual or in-person), and the leader’s style. Usually, groups consist of at least three people but may have many more members, such as psychoeducational groups. Each session may start and end similarly and follow a consistent style but may involve different discussions, activities, or topics each time. Groups can be held weekly, monthly, or even multiple times a week, and the length varies based on the goal. Group sessions may involve the leader teaching, encouraging discussion, initiating activities, etc.

Key Aspects of Group Counseling

In group counseling, there are things that counselors call “therapeutic factors.” These are the fundamental principles of group therapy. There are 11 of them, and they include:

  • Instilling hope: members can find encouragement from other individuals in the group.

  • Universality: members can see that they are not alone

  • Imparting information: members gain information from the leader and other members.

  • Altruism: members can help others in the group

  • Corrective recapitulation of the primary family: this refers to members being able to explore their childhoods, personalities, behaviors, and so on

  • Development of socialization techniques: members can socialize with each other and learn skills

  • Imitative behavior: members can model positive behaviors of others in the group.

  • Interpersonal learning: members can receive feedback and learn more about themselves

  • Imparting information: members gain information from the leader and other members.

  • Group cohesiveness: members can feel accepted and as they belong

  • Catharsis: members may feel healed by sharing with others

  • Development of socialization techniques: members can socialize with each other and learn skills

  • Existential factors: members receive support and learn that they are responsible for their own lives.

What About Confidentiality?

Confidentiality in a group setting can be tricky. Group therapists should always review confidentiality and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) with members during the first session. The therapist is required to maintain the confidentiality of group members. However, while it is expected that group members maintain the confidentiality of each other as well, there is no way to ensure this.

Our Group Counseling Offerings

At the Neurofeedback and Counseling Center, we offer various group counseling options. All groups are virtual and four weeks long. Our groups are currently running until the end of April 2022. Offerings include:

  • Grief and Loss Support Group: whether you have lost a loved one, have an estranged relationship, or are grieving any other type of loss, this group can offer support. They are offered on Mondays 7-8 PM and Thursdays 12-1 PM.

  • Career Counseling Group: learn about local resources, resume writing and interviewing tips, and discuss ideal jobs. They are offered on Mondays 8-9 PM or Thursdays 11-12PM.

  • Boosting Your Self-Esteem: this group targets the adolescent population and focuses on building confidence. They are offered on Wednesdays 3-4 PM or 5:30-6:30 PM.

  • Intensive Therapy Group: this open group gives you a space to discuss whatever is going on in your life. Drop-in on Saturdays from 9-11 AM.

  • Finding Strength in Your Relationship: explore topics such as strengths, conflict resolution, communication styles, and roles with your significant other. This group is excellent, even if you are not currently facing concerns. They are offered on Mondays 7-8 PM, Wednesdays 12-1 PM, and Fridays 10-11 AM.

  • Welcome to Holland: Therapy Group for Navigating Childhood Concerns: this group is targeted at parents dealing with any difficulties with their child. They are offered on Tuesdays 7-8 PM and Fridays 11AM-12PM.

  • Life Transitions Therapy Group: the focus of this group is on navigating any life change, big or small. They are offered on Tuesdays 6-7 PM or Fridays 12-1 PM.

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