In the US alone, more than 50 million Americans attend therapy regularly. While many choose to refrain from seeking professional help for their mental health, those who do attend consistent sessions find some relief from day-to-day triggers. Attending therapy sessions either at the first sign of mental distress or after a serious episode can be the difference between life or death for many patients. When it comes to deciding on the right form of therapy for your unique needs, attending a group therapy session could be the perfect starting point.
What is group therapy?
Group therapy is a form of therapy that works in a guided, multipatient environment. With the direction of a licensed therapist, attendees are encouraged to speak on individual needs while also providing group exercises. These groups come in a various forms, from general group therapy to discuss routine, daily anxieties, to specialized groups for depression, grief support, or abuse. Attendees are encouraged to share at their own comfort level or simply absorb the information provided by counselors to use in their daily lives. Having these tools can be vital in moments of triggered symptoms or particularly difficult days.
How does it work?
While not every group therapy session is the same, most treatment centers use similar tools in their offerings. The Therapy Group of DC, for instance, uses a variety of science-backed styles of treatment to equip their patients with both short-term and long-term solutions to their battle with mental health. In these sessions, patients are provided with tools to combat their struggles, and also a safe environment in which to test their newly learned coping skills. Through the watchful eye of a licensed professional, common triggers can be identified and acted out with the patient ready to apply new coping strategies.
Most common in group therapy sessions is CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy. This particular form of therapy is based on the link between cognitive function and behaviors. Therapists will guide their attendees in identifying the cognitive functions and instances that trigger their anxieties and depression and create a method of resolution. In doing so, patients can reduce the unhealthy behaviors that manifest from their anxious or depressive thoughts.
How is CBT beneficial?
The initial benefit of this form of therapy is a feeling of belonging when talking among like-minded individuals. For many, the thought of discussing personal issues one-on-one is overwhelming, making group sessions ideal. Nearly half of Americans who experience symptoms of depression don’t seek professional help. For a vast majority of patients, the stigma surrounding mental disorders is intimidating to the point where they would rather live with their depression than ask for help.
Many drug rehab centers and other mental health facilities incorporate group therapy in their offerings because it creates a support base. Sponsors or accountability partners are provided to ensure that each attendee has someone to rely on outside of meetings/sessions when they’re feeling triggered or having a particularly difficult day. In this sense, group therapy is beneficial in providing each person in attendance with someone to rely on outside of their weekly sessions.
Attending group therapy also offers new perspectives to its attendees. Too often in the heat of the moment, we are unable to see from any other perspective but our own. When other attendees share their similar life experiences, it shifts the view for those listening for them to see their own situations in a new light. After these stories are shared, the therapist will often ask fellow group members to give feedback on how to better handle the situation going forward.
Whether your unique needs are centered on combating daily anxiety or battling a chronic mental illness, starting treatment in a group therapy session can be the steppingstone to mental well-being.