Group psychotherapy, like individual psychotherapy, is intended to help people who would like to improve their ability to cope with difficulties and problems in their lives. While in individual therapy the client meets with only one person (the therapist), in group therapy you will meet with 4-10 members and one or two therapists (or facilitators). Group therapy focuses on interpersonal interactions, so relationship issues are addressed well in groups.
The aim of group psychotherapy is to help with solving the emotional difficulties and to encourage the personal development of the participants in the group. The therapist (called the leader or facilitator) selects candidates for the group who can benefit from this kind of therapy and those who may have a useful influence on other members in the group.
Members share their personal issues with the group. A participant can talk about events of their day to day life or the past, their responses to these events, problems they faced etc. The participant can share their feelings and thoughts about what happened in previous sessions, and relate to issues raised by other members or to the leader’s words. Other participants can react by providing feedback, encouragement, support, constructive criticism, or share their thoughts and feelings. The subjects for discussion are not determined by the leader, rather they arise spontaneously from the group. The members in the group feel that they are not alone and that there are others who feel the same. The group can become a source of support and strength in times of stress for the participant. The feedback members receive regarding their behavior in the group builds awareness of maladaptive behavior patterns, thus, facilitating more constructive and effective reactions.
Frequently, the people you meet in the group represent others in your past or current life with whom you have faced difficulties. In group therapy you have the opportunity to work through these situations.
Group psychotherapy is suitable for a large variety of problems and difficulties, beginning with people who would like to develop their interpersonal skills and ending with people with emotional problems like anxiety, depression, etc.
Groups are ideally suited to people who are struggling with relationship issues like intimacy, trust, self-esteem. The group’s interactions help the participants to identify, get feedback, and change the patterns that are sabotaging the relations. The great advantage of group psychotherapy is working on these patterns in the “here and now” – in a group situation more similar to reality and close to the interpersonal events.