Group counseling brings together a small group of people to discuss and explore issues they are having, led by a therapist. These meetings serve as a comfortable and safe space to work out problems you are having in your life, offering the insight of not only a trained mental health professional but people who can relate to what you’re going through.
The exact structure of the group counseling will vary, but in general, group counseling is effective because it models the way you interact with others in your daily life. The other members of your group can give you feedback about your behavior and help you develop healthier and more productive ways to interact with others. You can be honest with the group about what you need at that moment. If you need nonjudgmental support, you can express that. If you need suggestions for alternative ways to behave, you have that resource. If you need the group to gently push you in one direction, they are there for you. Group counseling works when all involved actively participate, express what they need, are honest about their problems, and work on themselves between group sessions.
Why Group Counseling?
Perhaps the biggest advantage of group therapy is the opportunity to see that others are struggling in similar ways. Individual counseling doesn’t offer this kind of personal insight into the experiences of others. Your feelings of isolation will likely become lessened as you begin to hear the stories of others and realize they struggle, as well. Whether you’re dealing with anger management issues, anxiety, depression or other life struggle, group counseling offers a space of validation and understanding.
Group sessions are the perfect place to practice interpersonal relations and to improve social skills. It’s quite common for those dealing with mental health issues or other life struggles to experience difficulties in their relationships. During group work, you will be able to interact with other members, with the facilitator helping to process the interactions. This processing enables members to gain an understanding of others’ points of view and to learn healthy ways of communicating or resolving differences. Through observing the actions of members, along with your own, you can gain tremendous insight into your own behavior, too.
Group sessions can be even more powerful than individual work with a counselor because you are able to receive support from more than one source. This is one of the primary advantages of group counseling. In group therapy, the counselor isn’t the only one to offer feedback. Instead, the group facilitator encourages members to offer feedback, suggestions and support throughout the session. The support of multiple people can be quite effective in motivating change and validating feelings.
The members of your therapy group can become your sounding board. They can provide you with feedback that helps you to see a situation more clearly or realistically. It’s human nature to perceive things through your own lens. For example, you may be harder on yourself regarding a perceived mistake than is actually necessary. Your newfound therapeutic support system can help you to reframe the incident, seeing it in a more realistic light. It’s important to note that group members won’t simply tell you what you want to hear. It is typical to expect honest responses from members, but this type of counseling teaches everyone involved how to do so in a constructive, helpful way.
As you get to know your group, you may begin to notice that you find yourself thinking of them and how they may react to various scenarios you encounter each week between sessions. This realization can cause you to reconsider the ways in which you would normally react to a particular situation. This desire to want to report positive outcomes to your peers can be incredibly motivational.
To learn more about our group counseling program, please call 703-490-0336 x 0.