You’re probably already familiar with individual therapy. Whether you’ve done it weekly for years or you’ve never walked into a therapist’s office, you know how it works. You sit down and pour your heart out to someone one-on-one or, in the case of couple’s therapy, two-on-one. What you might be less familiar with is group therapy.
There are three primary types of group therapy: the support group type, the psychoeducational type, and the process or working type. I’ll discuss what differentiates these different kinds of treatment and their benefits and why group therapy may be right for you.
Support Group Therapy
In support group therapy, you meet with people dealing with the same issues as you, and you talk to them about why you joined the group, your current struggles, and your goals. Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon are two examples of support groups. In this type of therapy, the primary goal is to encourage each other to move forward in recovery. Members offer you words of motivation and compassion, and you share your story with them. In support groups, you can meet people who are further along in their recovery, which may give you a sense of hope for your future. You can see first-hand how group therapy helps people. Members often drop in and out, and you might find yourself with a new group of people from one session to the next.
One benefit of support groups over other types of group therapy is that often with this type, you can join at any time. The group leader is there to kick off sessions and move the meeting forward, but they don’t teach or encourage extensive interaction between members. Leaders of group therapy meetings are usually not licensed mental health professionals.
Psychoeducational Group Therapy
The purpose of psychoeducational group therapy is to teach you about your condition and help you develop coping skills. Groups typically focus on one issue such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or anger management. Typically, you meet once a week for one to two hours.