What is Group Counseling?
If you have never experienced it, you may wonder what group counseling or group therapy actually is. At some point in our lives, nearly all of us face a situation or event that can be challenging to deal with. Whether it’s during this time or years after, coping can sometimes be easier said than done. However, once we begin talking with others, we realize that we are not as alone with our problems as we thought we were.
This is where attending group therapy and finding support groups comes into play. It is extremely beneficial for one’s mental health to listen and talk with other group members who may have had similar experiences. Group therapy sessions help individuals feel less alone. A supportive environment is one of the first steps towards healing and taking care of one’s self.
What Are the Benefits of Group Counseling?
All of this group therapy talk is only the beginning of how beneficial this type of counseling really can be for those that need it. Those who join groups will quickly begin to see changes in their life and have a whole set of new skills to take on life’s challenges. Talking with and listening to other members in group sessions may have more benefits that you realize. With that being said, let’s take a look at five of the top benefits this type of counseling has to offer…
Not only is the group experience a great way to help you cope with traumatic or difficult events or situations, it is also a great way to learn more about yourself. This type of counseling offers people with a safe and confidential environment to learn and share. Experiences in this setting help to encourage change while connecting with others in similar circumstances.
Helps Gain Insightful Feedback
Sharing with others in a group setting promotes receiving feedback from others that may be sharing the same feelings and experiences that you have. This can be an extremely effective method for dealing with difficult emotions. Seeing how others handle their coping issues not only provides you with support but also a different perspective that perhaps you never considered.
Increases and Promotes Motivation
By being surrounded by others that are striving to cope, you are provided with motivation to strive, learn, and heal. Having others around you with a common goal can make the healing process much faster than with traditional individual counseling sessions. Additionally, you will be surrounded by others that care about your progress and are willing to help, and more importantly, understand you. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, many feel closer to those in their group in only a short amount of time.
Teaches New Social Skills
While learning or honing social skills is not the primary focus of group counseling, it is a pleasant side effect that comes with this form of counseling. While most will feel some anxiety during their first group session, attendees tend to feel more comfortable as the sessions continue and many even feel a sense of relief. Just keep in mind that this improved feelings and emotions do not typically come about right away. However, with patience and sharing at a comfortable pace, attendees gradually build upon their comfort levels.
Has No Constricting Time Limits
With individual counseling sessions, you are restricted by the counselor’s schedule. However, while most group counseling sessions do have a predetermined time to call it a day, it is not unusual for a session to run longer, especially when an attendee has decided to open up or has just made an emotional discovery.
Does a Therapist Run Group Counseling Sessions?
If you are looking to attend a therapy session, whether it be one on one or with a group, it is always good to know what you are walking into. Social anxiety or not, it is always good to be prepared. Group counseling sessions can be closed groups or an open group. It is entirely up to you which one you prefer.
Regardless, another important benefit of these sessions is that there will be a mental health professional there prompting conversations and helping individuals in alternative ways. These group facilitators are highly skilled in group psychotherapy and can be of great help. One of the best parts of group counseling is the ability to gain multiple perspectives but this does not mean only people with similar difficulties. Finding a supportive space is so important and the right therapist will make sure they are creating this.
Can Anybody Attend Group Counseling Sessions?
To put it simply, yes. Regardless of your reason for seeking out counseling, group counseling is for everybody. However, you will have to find group counseling sessions where the people in attendance are working through similar hurdles as you. For example, individuals with eating disorders that are seeking a community help them heal wouldn’t attend group counseling sessions for grief. It’s important to find a therapy group that will have other group members like you.
While it may not be necessary for everyone, often times individuals attending group therapy sessions are also attending individual therapy. The combination is known to greatly help with personal growth.
Group counseling can be intimidating at first, especially if it is your first time sharing your issues in a public, yet private, setting. However, with the benefits that we have discussed above, group counseling could very well be the best and fastest chance for many to resolving their coping issues and finding healthier ways to deal with difficult situations.