In my experience, most patients are adamant that they do not want group therapy when the idea is first proposed. Below are three of the most common myths that get in the way of people pursuing group therapy.
1. It is less effective than individual therapy.
This is simply not true. For many therapeutic issues, group therapy offers more benefits compared to individual therapy. Consider someone struggling to overcome debilitating social anxiety. Research shows that exposure therapy (gradually putting yourself in the feared situation with therapist guidance) is the gold standard for treating social anxiety. This creates a challenge for individual therapy and often requires sessions to take place out of the office. In group therapy, the exposure component is already there because of the other people around. In addition, many psychological issues can create a feeling of isolation and group therapy is helpful in allowing people to share their experiences and ways of coping with each other.
2. My problems are meant for individual therapy.
Many patients initially hate the idea of group therapy no matter what issue they are dealing with. It is already hard enough to talk with a psychologist you have never met and share details of your life you may never have told anyone else about. Then the idea of sharing these things with a group can be overwhelming at first. This is a very common feeling that many people who participate in group therapy feel. Although the initial discomfort of group therapy can be high, many patients do not consider the added benefits. In fact, there are very few problems that should only be addressed in individual therapy.
3. Group therapy is only meant to provide emotional support.
Just like therapists, therapy groups range in their approach, structure, and effectiveness. Before you sign-up for a group, find out what type of group it is and then determine how well this fits with what you are hoping to gain. There are three main types of groups. The first is a support group. These groups may be free and can operate without a leader. Although they can be helpful in many situations, some people find that support groups can make them feel worse because it is often a shared negative experience that is brining everyone together.
Psychoeducational groups are probably the most common type of group you will find with a mental health professional leading it. These groups can focus on almost any topic, from coping with depression to learning strategies to reduce self-harm. There are a lot of benefits to this type of group and many patients may be enrolled in individual therapy at the same time. The third type of group is known as an interpersonal process group. This type of group is focused on the interaction patterns between members. Research shows that process groups can be effective for a number of psychological issues. In addition, many groups combine techniques from other approaches and may involve aspects of support, psychoeducation, and interpersonal processing.
If you are interested in learning more about group therapy, please contact us at 612-470-4099 or email us at andrea@dendrinospsychology.com.

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