Are you struggling to feel connected with others? Do you feel like traditional therapy isn't offering you enough? Do you want to meet more people who understand your feelings?
Group therapy offers excellent support, guidance, and structure for people experiencing mental illness. It can be a fantastic option for supplementing your recovery. Let's get into the top benefits!
Like any therapy, group therapy often fosters insight and self-recognition. In learning about your mental health, you gain a better understanding of yourself.
This awareness can facilitate needed change. At the same time, it can also help you practice more acceptance. For instance, you may need to learn how to accept your condition, symptoms, and current place in life. This acceptance will allow you to feel better about yourself, thereby increasing your self-esteem.
The Understanding That You're Not Alone
Mental illness can feel incredibly isolating. It may seem like nobody understands you or your condition. Subsequently, the fear of judgment may prevent you from being honest with others.
Group therapy offers a safe place for you to explore your innermost thoughts and feelings. At the same time, other people are sharing their experiences, fears, and dreams.
There is an inherent sense of camaraderie that can come from this shared dynamic. You are among other people who understand the vulnerability, discomfort, and potential shame associated with mental illness. They get it, and they might even get you!
We are wired for human connection. Recognizing that you aren't alone- that you aren't the only person experiencing such difficulty- can be an invaluable step in your recovery.
Practical Coping Skills
Group therapy can introduce you to helpful strategies for managing your emotions. Different facilitators follow various curriculums, but the overarching goal is to support you in managing your condition.
Common skills you may learn in a group setting include:
mindfulness (deep breathing, guided muscle relaxation).
social skills, including assertiveness.
challenging negative thoughts.
setting realistic goals.
healthy living recommendations.
You may also learn new ideas from other group members. For instance, someone may share how they implemented a new boundary with a family member. This disclosure may inspire you to try their approach.
Some facilitators will assign homework for you to complete each week. These tasks help you stay accountable in focusing on your overall well-being. They also help you implement what you have learned in group to practice while in the real world.
Practice Healthy Communication
Even in the safest settings, group therapy isn't always comfortable. The material tends to be raw, and you might disagree with everyone's opinions. Furthermore, you may not like all the members in a particular group.
Many therapists believe that how we behave in a group often embodies how we behave in other social settings. For example, if you tend to be quiet around others, you probably hesitate to speak during the group. On the other hand, if you're more loud and vocal, you might monopolize the time and frustrate other people.
Ideally, you can practice new, healthy ways to share your feelings productively and assertively. This means being respectful of others while also setting reasonable boundaries.
Are There Any Downsides To Consider?
It's important to consider potential risks when starting any therapy. In some cases, group therapy isn't appropriate for everyone.
Some concerns to think about include:
a lack of individual attention (which can be avoided by attending individual therapy).
risks associated with confidentiality as you cannot guarantee everyone maintains privacy.
the tendency to form cliques (which can be avoided with a strong group facilitator).
feeling more triggered during and after the group.
Some populations may not be suitable for group therapy. Typically, groups are not recommended for extremely shy or mute clients, people actively struggling with psychosis, or people who have antisocial personality tendencies. Additionally, you will not be welcome to attend a group if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You also need to consider the nature of the group. Is it facilitated by a licensed professional, such as a therapist or psychologist? Or, is it a peer-led support group run by another member? There is no right-or-wrong answer, but different types of groups present with different strengths and weaknesses.
Keep in mind you may need to try different groups before finding the right match. No two groups are exactly alike, and it's normal to experiment with a few different ones before feeling comfortable.
Group therapy allows you to feel supported and connected to other people experiencing similar life circumstances. There can be profound strength in empathy- feeling understood by someone else can foster a sense of fulfillment, joy, and relief.
At The Mental Health House, we understand that mental illness can feel lonely and frightening. We strive to provide invaluable support to our community. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.