The Top Ten Benefits Of Group Counseling
Updated July 13, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
Counseling in a group is typically a small group of no more than 10 participants, and 1-2 group leaders, usual therapists, engage in a psychosocial form of counseling. Small group settings for counseling are held 1-2 times per week and involves talking and listening to each other’s concerns and progress. Participants usually feel open to express their beliefs, thoughts, and emotions without fear of judgment or retaliation.
This type of counseling has proven to be just as effective as individual therapy and even more effective with certain age groups such as teenagers who have an easier time opening up to and taking advice from peers than adults, doctors, or authority figures. If your therapist or psychologist suggests group types of therapy, there are 10 tremendous benefits to this type of counseling you should consider.
- Support System -Counseling in a group is a wonderful way to support and receive support. Therapists who lead these therapy sessions encourage the participants to learn to lean on each other, share things they are struggling with, and help each other find ways to overcome. Participants can give each other advice and feedback in a way that is positive and uplifting. Support groups are especially helpful for people who are experiencing grief, domestic violence, or trauma.
- Help Move Forward –One of the things people struggle with is moving forward after suffering a loss or going through something traumatic. Counseling in a group can help people move forward because participants can encourage and support each other. Participants are also more likely to move forward when they know other people in the group are holding them accountable for achieving their goals.
- Learn Social Skills –Some people struggle with social situations and conversations. People who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders may find it especially difficult to exhibit socially acceptable behavior at times. Group settings teach social conversation skills and help patients to develop crucial listening and understanding skills. Some patients who have anti-social disorders or phobias can slowly integrate into group setting therapy as their progress in individual therapy goes on.
- Cost-Effective –Group setting sessions are significantly cheaper than individual therapy. Although costs will vary from office to office, most mental health care practices can bill for much less during this type of counseling. This is because more participants’ insurance can divvy out the cost of the session.
- Revealing –Many people learn more about themselves in this type of counseling because so many other topics may get brought up with all the varying perspectives in the room. A participant in this counseling type may trigger something you may not think to bring up in individual therapy. Counseling in a group can also help you find your voice, figure out your beliefs and opinions, and what goals you should have for yourself.
- Building Healthy Relationships –Not only do group counseling participants learn social skills, but they also develop good, healthy friendships that tend to last and extend outside of therapy. Meeting people you can communicate well with, who may have experienced the same things you have, means that you can build bonds with people you can relate to. Friends participants in this type of counseling are also great listeners, keep private matters private, and let you know when you are making a bad choice or behaving in a way that may be destructive to your progress.
- Safe Place –Being afraid to express your beliefs and opinions is never healthy for anyone. However, we live in a climate today that makes it hard to communicate all the time with people who may believe differently than you. Group counseling programs ensure that all participants can talk about their individual experiences, opinions, and beliefs without ridicule, retaliation, or disrespect from other group members or therapists.
- Learning From Peers –Sometimes, it is hard to believe that a therapist can relate to what patients are going through or what they feel. When participants can connect with others to whom they can relate, they are more likely to learn new ways to deal with their problems and be more willing to take advice. Therapists also benefit because they can have an easier time trying to convince someone of a specific strategy if another group member can verify it was indeed worth it or worked for them.
- Trust in Therapist –Group Counseling helps participants have trust in their therapists. When patients in group counseling can see that the therapist is giving other people the same strategies, telling the same thing to everyone makes the therapist or group leader seem more credible. Some participants may have been in therapy longer and testify to their own experiences with the therapist.
- Unity –Just knowing there are other people in your community that suffer from the same disorder as you do, who are grieving like you are, who have been through trauma, etc., can be a very powerful tool in recovery and overcoming life’s obstacles. Knowing that you are not the only one; you are part of a collective can be very therapeutic for many patients.
Disadvantages of Group Counseling
Counseling in a group can be challenging because opening up to people is hard. Most patients do not know or have already established and trusting relationships with the other group members. For some patients, this makes opening up and showing vulnerability easier, but it can make it much harder for others. There is also a risk of group members clashing or not getting along with each other. Sometimes we may not feel comfortable talking to people with personalities that are much different than our own, and that can be disadvantageous to therapy.
Group counseling is not typically recommended for people with intense social phobias. Group therapy is also not always recommended for patients who exhibit violent tendencies or do not understand interpersonal relationships.
Individual Counseling Vs. Group Counseling
For some people, individual therapy may be something they are more comfortable with. Often, the first time you are talking about something, it can be easier in a private office setting with a therapist one-on-one. Individual counseling can also be beneficial for people who have a lot to talk about. In an hour-long group setting an appointment, each participant may only speak for a few minutes each. Therapists are also more attentive to your needs and progress during one on one sessions and may be able to give more personalized advice than they could in a group setting an appointment.
Patients may also decide to do group-setting therapy sessions and individual therapy sessions with their doctor. Individual therapy is a safe way to talk privately about what you got out of the group setting or how you felt in that setting. Group therapy helps patients with vulnerability, while individual therapy can help sort through and organize their feelings.
Types of Group Therapy
Group therapy does not always involve sitting in a circle and talking about feelings, although it can! Group therapy is different from office to office, and most practices will offer more than one type of group therapy. Examples of types of group therapies include:
- Workshops for specific skill-building
- Expressive or creative therapy such as painting, dance, or writing
- Yoga or meditation classes
- Group outings
Group therapy is especially beneficial for teens because they are more likely to advise a peer than an authority figure. Counseling in a group is also beneficial for people experiencing:
- Anxiety disorders
- Depression disorders
- Relationship or Marital Issues
- Eating disorders
- Lack of Social Skills
There are no risks to group therapy. One thing that patients should know is that they are not required to participate in group therapy. A counselor can recommend group therapy sessions, but it is ultimately the patient’s decision if they want to go.
Open and Closed Group Counseling
Some types of group setting counseling are open forums where anyone in the community can come and go. Meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and other groups allow open discussion and people’s ability to come and go as they please. There may be fresh faces there weekly.
A closed group setting counseling is limited to a core group of participants who are the only ones allowed in the therapy session. New participants are usually not added, and when there is a need, another group may be formed. This is to help build bonds and trusting relationships. A psychotherapist usually directs closed therapy, while public groups such as AA and NA may be guided by fellow participants, group leaders, recovered alcoholics, and sponsors.
At ReGain, you can be on your way to counseling, anytime, anywhere. Get started on your journey to mental health and healing by contacting ReGain today!
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