Probably the biggest advantage of group therapy for mental health issues is in helping a patient realize that he or she is 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 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 to dealing with a particular problem that you may not have thought of.
You may be uncomfortable at first when it comes 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 open up and discuss your feelings. In addition, everything that takes place within the group therapy session is kept confidential.
What to Expect in Group Therapy
Group therapy sessions vary, but the basic format is a small group of patients meet on a regular basis to discuss their feelings and problems and provide mutual support. The session is guided by a professional therapist who is 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 favor 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 certain 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, depression, family problems, addictions, etc. In some cases, people who are taking part in group therapy will also undergo individual counseling (one-on-one with a therapist).
The makeup 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.
Medical Insurance Coverage
Group therapy is typically covered by medical insurance. Contact your insurance company for specifics on your coverage. Also, group therapy is often provided for free by non-profit groups, hospitals, etc.