Group therapy is a kind of talking therapy that may be recommended for some mental health conditions, including obsessive compulsive disorder and mild depression, and for children.
Rather than being a one-to-one therapy, the specially trained facilitator works with a group of people to discuss and share their problems.
Benefits of group therapy for mental health
Probably the biggest advantage of group therapy for mental health issues is in helping the person to realise that they are not alone - that there are other people who have similar problems. This is often a revelation, and a huge relief, to the person.
Being in group therapy can also help you develop new skills in how to relate to others. The dynamics of a group often mirror those of society in general, and learning how to interact with the other members of the group can help you in your relationships outside the group. In addition, the members of the group who have the same problem(s) can support each other, and may offer suggestions on how to deal with a particular problem that you may not have thought of.
You may be uncomfortable at first when it is time to discuss your problems in front of strangers. However, the fact that others are facing the same type of situation as you may help you to open up and discuss your feelings. In addition, everything that takes place within the group therapy session is confidential.
What to expect in group therapy
Group therapy sessions vary, but the basic format is this - a small group of patients meet on a regular basis to discuss their feelings and problems and provide mutual support. The session is lead by a professional therapist, specially trained in group therapy. The therapist acts as moderator and may suggest a "theme" or topic for the group's discussion. Sometimes, the therapist will allow the group members to pick the topic for the session.
As part of the group therapy session, members try to change their old ways of behaving in favour of newer, more productive ways. Typically, there is a great deal of interaction and discussion among the members of the group. The members may also undertake specific activities, such as addressing particular fears and anxieties.
Am I a candidate for group therapy?
Group therapy can help anyone who is in need of mental health care. Like individual therapy, group therapy can benefit people with such conditions as anxiety, panic attacks, depression, family problems, addictions, etc. In some cases, people who are taking part in group therapy will also additionally undergo individual counselling - one-to-one with a therapist.
The composition of the group varies - in some cases, the group consists of people who have the same condition, for example, depression. In other cases, the group is mixed.
Where can I get group therapy?
Group therapy is available within the NHS and your doctor will help set this up for you. Alternatively, you may choose to seek help from a private therapist.