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Mental Health

The Many Benefits of Group Therapy

— October 7, 2021

Most groups tend to focus on introducing members to new, more positive behaviours so that they can better cope with significant life events and even mental health symptoms.

Group therapy is a type of psychotherapy that aims at helping people in managing mental health conditions or even coping with the negative experiences and behaviours. 

This article takes one through what group therapy is, its potential benefits, and lastly what to expect from it during the treatment sessions.

What is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that does involve one or more mental health practitioners who then deliver psychotherapy towards several individuals in each of the sessions that take place. Group therapy can then reduce the wait times and also does give more people access to reliable mental healthcare. Some people can also attend individual therapy sessions in addition to group therapy, while others do go on to exclusively use group therapy. 

Who is Group Therapy for?

Anyone can attend a group therapy session. However, group therapy can be especially helpful for people with a limited access to mental healthcare, such as those living in rural or more so low-income areas where healthcare clinics are very understaffed. 

One of the major goals of group therapy is bringing people who do share similar experiences together. Group therapy primarily focuses on a specific mental health concern, such as social anxiety or even depression. 

Some other examples of conditions a group may focus on does include the following:

  • Phobias
  • Depression
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Substance use disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Panic disorder

Group therapy can also help people with:

  • Grief
  • Obesity
  • Chronic pain
  • Weight loss
  • Anger management
  • Domestic violence
  • Cultural trauma
  • Chronic illness

How it works

Instillation of hope

Therapists can even instill hope in group members by acknowledging that current and former members progress toward their respective goals. Groups will usually consist of people at the different stages of treatment.

So, watching people who are currently experiencing or even recuperating from a similar problem gives other group members hope that they will also have the positive treatment outcomes.


Group therapy brings people who have similar experiences together. Meeting other people recovering from or working through similar issues does help people realize that they are not alone.

One of the most valuable things we can do to heal one another is to listen to each other’s stories. -Rebecca Falls

Understanding the universality of their experiences can even help people overcome physical plus emotional isolation.

Imparting information

Group members and therapists can certainly help each other by way of sharing information and even offering advice.


Group members can support, reassure, and more so help each other improve throughout the treatment. This improves their self-esteem, morale, and confidence.

The leads to the corrective recapitulation and repetition of the primary family group.

Therapy groups often bear resemblance to the family groups, with say one or two parental authority figures and even peer siblings. Please note that within the group therapy sessions, people do confront and challenge their early childhood experiences and dynamics with these “parents and siblings.”

They can also go on to learn and shape how these early experiences shape their personality and identify which behaviours plus beliefs are unhelpful or destructive in their respective lives.

Development of socializing techniques

Please note: The group therapy members do give and even can receive corrective plus restorative feedback that can help them engage plus immerse in the social interactions outside the group.

Imitative behaviour

Members of the group do resemble the behaviours they do observe in more senior members or therapists. As a result, the group members can go on to obtain a better understanding of themselves.

Interpersonal learning

The therapy group reflects and considers the individual’s social universe as well. Through solid feedback and self-observation, group members can move to completely gaining awareness of the strengths and limitations of their interpersonal behaviour.

Group cohesiveness

Group of people huddling; image by Perry Grone, via
Group of people huddling; image by Perry Grone, via

Please note as a part of a group with a common goal, members can move to gain a sense of belonging, too. Members may feel quite comfortable opening up to the group as a result. They may also be very willing to implement the behavioural changes that they teach as a part of the treatment.


It is by sharing their feelings, experiences, and pain with a group that one can definitely help people release anger and even pent-up emotions.

The process can then lead to sudden insights that shift ways that people perceive and respond to life.

Existential factors

Group therapy sessions provide the space and the time for the people to explore the uncomfortable existential factors, such as loss or death. Group members develop a stronger sense of self-reliance by learning to understand that they are ultimately in control of their own behaviours, actions, and more so choices.

Different types of group therapy

It is vital to note that there are several different types of group therapy, and the treatment models do vary from group to group.

Let us look at the core outline of five of the most common types of group therapy:

Psychoeducational groups

Psychoeducational group therapy focuses on educating members about their conditions and providing them with the new coping strategies. These groups usually do go on to focus on a specific condition, such as substance use disorder, anxiety, or even phobias.

Skills development groups

Skills development groups focus on introducing plus improving the skills that the members need to cope while dealing with certain mental health conditions. These groups may even incorporate aspects of psychoeducational groups.

Still, the overall goal involves strengthening the members through behavioural and cognitive resources to help them make the positive choices and avoid harmful situations.

Cognitive behavioural groups

Cognitive behavioural group therapy attempts to restructure the beliefs a person has that lead to negative or harmful behaviours. For example, cognitive behavioural groups go on to focus on substance use disorder by beginning to identify situations and environments that trigger the addictive behaviour.

With this understanding, members develop the management strategies that support reduced use.

Support groups

Support groups can even help people cope with significant life changes, such as the loss of a loved one.

In support groups, members give and even receive an unconditional acceptance. The group also encourages its members to totally reflect and review their personal beliefs and behaviours.

Interpersonal process groups

The interpersonal process group model uses the psychodynamic approach to promote positive change. Psychodynamics is a school of psychology that views a person’s early life experiences and subconscious beliefs plus feelings to be the foundation of their personality and behaviours. Interpersonal process groups focus on interpersonal group dynamics and less on individual psychology.

Is it effective?

Group therapy appears to be quite effective for depression.

Group therapy for depression concludes that group treatment can lead towards significant improvements at both the group and an individual level. 

The positive effects of group therapy can even be seen on substance use disorders. It is found that group therapy has moderate effects on the mental state compared with no treatment and that people in group therapy are more likely to abstain from future use than those not enrolled in the treatment.

Benefits Group Therapy may provide:

  • A safe place for people sharing their feelings and exploring the nature of their mental health condition
  • A place to receive support from and then give support to others who are experiencing similar difficulties
  • Exposure to new behaviours, thoughts, and beliefs that may shift people’s perspectives
  • A place where people feel that they are not alone
  • Absorbing positive support systems
  • A more cost effective alternative towards one-on-one therapy sessions

What to expect

Group therapy involves one or more psychologists who lead small groups with say up to 15 members. Group sessions go on to meet once per week and last for around 1–2 hours.

Group therapy sessions can occur in healthcare settings and community centres, such as therapy offices, hospitals, and even libraries. Groups will also go on to meet in a quiet room with the chairs in a circle so that the group members can see each other.

My routines come out of total unhappiness. My audiences are my group therapy. – Joan Rivers

At the beginning of a session, group members will introduce themselves and share their reasons for attending group therapy. They may also go on to discuss their progress and any obstacles or setbacks that they have experienced since the last meeting.

Please note that the exact activities in the group therapy sessions will go on to vary from group to group. However, such activities tend to focus on promoting the open, honest communication and establishing very strong trust between group members and their psychologists.

How to find group therapy

People can find certified group therapists through psychotherapy websites. Also, those who are currently working with a mental healthcare practitioner can even ask for referrals or recommendations.

Factors to consider

People may want to consider the following factors when searching for group therapy:

  • Whether or not they wish to join a group that focuses on a specific experience or even a mental health condition
  • Whether or not they prefer certain group therapy models
  • Whether they want to attend group therapy sessions in person or online
  • Whether or not they feel more comfortable talking to people from similar backgrounds as them

Cost, coverage, and affordable options

Group therapy costs do tend to vary while depending on the therapist, the size of the group, and even the location. Group therapy usually costs less than individual therapy because the therapists will always work with multiple people at once.


Group therapy offers an alternative to an individual therapy.

In group therapy sessions, people can go on to meet others who share very similar experiences. One or more certified psychologists or other mental healthcare practitioners go on to lead the group therapy sessions.

There are many different types of the group therapy model. However, most groups tend to focus on introducing members to new, more positive behaviours so that they can better cope with significant life events and even mental health symptoms.

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