Group Therapy

Those of us who’ve been in group therapy know that this approach can have a considerable impact on our mental health. Being in a room of people who are going through the same issues and who are experiencing the same feelings as you can be quite empowering.

If you’re thinking about attending group therapy, let’s take a moment to understand how this approach works.

Group Therapy

Essentially, group psychotherapy focuses on bringing together people who face the same problems in an attempt to promote healing and well-being. In a psychotherapy group, people learn new skills for coping with their problems.

How Many People are in The Group?

In general, a therapy group is made up of seven to twelve group members, and group sessions last about one to two hours. The group is usually led by a group psychotherapist. Each of the group members gets a chance to vent out their feelings and emotions and receive valuable feedback from the group. They can learn new approaches from each other in order to develop their social skills.

While small groups offer more time to focus on individual problems, large groups provide a healthy dose of diversity for the group members. People have ample opportunity to learn new coping skills. [1]

Will There Be Group Members With Similar Problems to Yours?

Definitely! One of the purposes of group therapy is to bring together people who are facing the same difficulties. It’s comforting to know that you’re not the only one dealing with a particular problem. You can feel comfortable discussing your issues in a safe environment.

Is It a Big Commitment?

The commitment will depend on how serious you are about your mental health and well-being. In other words, the more you commit to this process the bigger your chances are of getting something useful out of it.

Types of Group Therapy

Depending on the approach, most therapy groups are either psychoeducational or process-oriented.


Some psychotherapy groups focus heavily on helping people to understand the core of their problem. It’s easier to overcome issues like depression or anxiety when you have a good understanding of how these phenomena work.


Other groups emphasize the importance of a process-oriented approach. Each group member goes through a specific set of steps that should help them overcome the problems that brought them to group therapy.

Ethics of Group Therapy

First of all, people who attend group therapy have the right to know about the group’s rules, approach, methods, and confidentiality policy.

Second, when it comes to confidentiality, both the therapist and group members must keep their discussions confidential. In a way, this builds trust among group members and creates a supportive environment where people can “open up.”

Lastly, it’s the group leader’s job to cultivate a professional atmosphere where the group members feel respected and accepted. [2]

How Can a Group Therapy Session Help?

Most experts can agree that group psychotherapy can be extremely helpful for people who are dealing with various emotional or behavioral issues. Let’s take a closer look at how this approach can lead to positive results.

Topics Addressed During a Group Session

The issues that people address in group therapy can cover a broad range of emotional and psychological problems. From overcoming grief and loss to managing depression or anxiety, there are support groups dedicated to almost every issue that people might be facing these days.

How Can You Benefit From Psychotherapy in a Group Setting?

Aside from receiving valuable insights from the group therapist who organizes the group, you can also benefit significantly from the support of other group members. You get to form trusting relationships with other participants. They are the ones who understand what you’re going through and are willing to lend an empathetic ear. You can also benefit from understanding what other people are dealing with and sharing their feelings.

Is Group Therapy as Effective as Individual Therapy?

Most experts agree that both group and individual therapy can have a significantly positive impact on our overall health and well-being. 

Self Help Groups

Aside from therapy groups, where people seek to overcome specific problems, there are also self-help groups dedicated to people who wish to better themselves.

What are Self-Help Groups?

As the name suggests, self-help groups are designed to help people achieve personal and professional growth. Being part of a community dedicated to personal development can motivate you to make positive changes and achieve a better version of yourself.

Why are These Groups Popular?

Since many of us are interested in achieving our full potential, it’s no surprise that self-help groups have gained massive popularity.

In fact, the online environment offers numerous groups, communities, and forums where you can find useful self-help tips and strategies.

Self Help Groups Critique

Although self-help groups have helped countless individuals to achieve growth, there are some downsides to this approach.

For starters, there is limited scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of self-help groups. On top of that, not all groups are monitored by licensed professionals, and that could result in all sorts of problems. [3]

So, before you join a self-help group, make sure you do thorough research on the people who manage the group and their approach to personal development.

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy?

Cognitive-behavioral group therapy is an approach that revolves around the basic principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

A study published in Sleep revealed that group and internet cognitive behavioral therapy are two cost-effective interventions for adolescents who struggle with insomnia. [4]

Furthermore, one study published in Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, concluded that people who struggle with social anxiety disorder could benefit greatly from cognitive behavioral group therapy. [5]

Joining a Group

Joining a support group is the first step towards getting a handle on your problems. But before you join, you need to make sure you’re choosing a group that focuses on your specific problem.

Open Groups vs Closed Groups

While some groups are open to everybody (e.g. self-help groups), other support groups are reserved for people who are dealing with a specific problem. That’s why we have groups for people with social anxiety and groups for people who struggle with addictions.

New group members can join an open group at any time. In a closed group, however, all the members have to join at the same time and they are the only ones who can participate in the sessions.

What is a Typical Group Meeting Like?

In a typical group psychotherapy meeting, group members share their stories and provide emotional support to one another. Everything happens under the careful supervision of a therapist. Sometimes, group leaders are used to structure sessions.

For some of us, sharing our problems and concerns doesn’t come that easily. It takes time and trust to open up in front of other people. That’s why each new group member is free to participate in the discussion whenever he/she feels comfortable enough. 

How Long are Group Therapy Sessions?

Group therapy sessions last between one and two hours. The therapist who monitors the group can also organize all sorts of retreats where group members can have fun and heal.

Long story short, group psychotherapy can be a valuable resource for those of us who are not able to cope with life’s hassles on our own.


  1. B. Johnson, “Group Therapy,” American Psychological Association, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 13 May 2019].
  2. “Group Therapy,” Good Therapy, 04 April 2019. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 13 May 2019].
  3. “Self-Help Groups,” Good Therapy, 04 November 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 13 May 2019].
  4. E. J. De Bruin, F. J. A. Van Steensel and A. M. Meijer, “Cost-Effectiveness of Group and Internet Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia in Adolescents: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial,” Sleep, vol. 39, no. 8, p. 1571–1581, 2016.
  5. C. Fogarty, D. Hevey and O. McCarthy, “Effectiveness of cognitive behavioural group therapy for social anxiety disorder: long-term benefits and aftercare,” Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy.
author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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