Are There Any Problems with Group Therapy?
More like misconceptions. Let’s explore what those are.
In psychology we say it’s easier to change your behavior than to change your attitudes and beliefs. And when it comes to group therapy, negative attitudes and beliefs regarding the practice might be preventing you from giving it a try.
So let me put a positive spin on some beliefs that might stop you from joining a group for therapy and choosing individual therapy instead.
“In group therapy, I’ll have to listen to the others and not be heard myself.”
Unfortunately, this is too often the experience of some people in their families of origin. They are never truly seen or heard.
“The group will reduce my capacity to think for myself and interfere with introspection.”
In fact, the opposite is the case. There is no opposition between group interactions and probing deeply into the self. Group therapy stimulates deeper reflections on the self because individuals see so many parts of themselves in the behavior of others. This perception awakens the individual to an inner life to which she may have been oblivious.
The positive feedback you receive from members of the group will increase your confidence in how you correctly perceive others, which leads to greater self esteem and self knowledge.
“I don’t want to be around when the group enters into conflict.”
Conflict is one of the creative opportunities for change that we encounter in group therapy. Yet, for many people, conflict in their families of origin meant the loss of love or loss of control and fears that acts of abandonment or violence might occur.
Conflict does bring group members into emotional engagement with each other. When handled skillfully by the group therapist, such engagement can prove to be quite positive, although at the time it may seem that the opposite is true.
I am well practiced in helping group members face anger when it emerges in their treatment group. The positive outcome for group members is the insight they can obtain when they see that the resolution or cessation of conflict is possible without physical damage or loss of self-esteem. This is an invaluable learning experience.
Hopefully what you thought were problems with group therapy, you now understand to be simply misconceptions. But we’ve barely touched on all that you can gain from group therapy. You may be surprised to know that in the decades I’ve been a practicing therapist in Berkeley, California, I’ve found nearly 40% of the individuals who come to me seeking therapy are well served by a course of group therapy.
It may be right for you too. Take a moment to read about all the benefits of group therapy here.
And if you think you might be interested in joining a therapy group, or if you’re not sure, please give me a call.