What is Group Therapy?

Therapy groups can be more or less directed, as with individual therapeutic processes. This can range from an educational format with little to no participation to non-directed psychotherapy where the therapist’s role is to facilitate and guide the input provided by the group members. These naturally have different functions; education is useful when new information or skill is the primary goal, whereas discussion allows learning from the experience of others.

Group Therapy can be the only treatment format, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy.

Our Experience

The Storm’s Edge Therapist have extensive group facilitation experience throughout the spectrum from delivering teaching materials to group facilitation. In well over a decade, we have developed and offered groups within a variety of areas:

  • from the management of symptoms (anger, anxiety, substance, etc.)
  • to skill development (emotional regulation, distress tolerance, change process, having difficult conversations, etc.)
  • to treatment interventions (MBT, DBT, Depression, etc.)
  • to general education (Therapy Techniques, Sex Education, about psychosis, etc,.)
  • as well as psychotherapeutic process groups (Carers Support, Impatient, general open groups, etc.).

The Benefits of Working in a Group

In “The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy,” Irvin D. Yalom outlines the key therapeutic benefits:

  • Altruism: Group members can share their strengths and help others in the group, which can boost self-esteem and confidence.
  • Catharsis: Sharing feelings and experiences with a group of people can help relieve pain, guilt, or stress.
  • The corrective recapitulation of the primary family group: The therapy group is much like a family in some ways. Within the group, each member can explore how childhood experiences contributed to personality and behaviors. They can also learn to avoid behaviors that are destructive or unhelpful in real life.
  • Development of socialization techniques: The group setting is a great place to practice new behaviors. The setting is safe and supportive, allowing group members to experiment without the fear of failure.
  • Existential factors: While working within a group offers support and guidance, group therapy helps members realize that they are responsible for their own lives, actions, and choices.
  • Group cohesiveness: Because the group is united in a common goal, members gain a sense of belonging and acceptance.
  • Imparting information: Group members can help each other by sharing information.
  • Imitative behavior: Individuals can model the behavior of other members of the group or observe and imitate the behavior of the therapist.

Types of Group Therapy

Different groups can use different therapy approaches, and some will use more than one at the same time.

Support Groups

A support group can be online or in person. The purpose is to give and receive support from other group members who are going through similar difficulties. This is a sharing group.

Process Groups

A process group doesn’t start with a specified agenda or skill being taught; it’s built around what members bring related to their own thoughts and emotions. This can be an opportunity to share, vent, unravel an experience, get perspectives other than your own and try out new approaches with others.  This is an unpacking group.

Psychoeducational Groups

This type of group there is a specific focus on defining, providing skills and building your knowledge on a specific mental health condition. This is a learning group.

Skills Development Groups

Facilitators focus on introducing and developing new skills aimed at improving your mental health. This format is similar to the Psychoeducational Groups, but with the primary focus of experiential skills practice over understanding. This is a doing group.

Format for Group Meetings

Groups can be as small as three or four people, but more often involve around eight to 12 individuals. The group typically meets once each week for between one to two hours. The type of group determine the format; for example, Support and Process are ongoing while Psychoeducational and Skills are for a set number of sessions.

Group therapy meetings may either be open or closed.

  • Open sessions, to which new participants are welcome to join at any time
  • Closed session, to which only a core group of members are invited to participate

Groups can meet in-person in a discussion format that facilitates exchange or a “classroom” format that best enables learning materials. Groups can meet online using chat and/or video conferencing as well as a hybrid of all of these options.