If you’ve never been to group therapy before, the thought of it might not appeal to you. After all, if you’re already struggling with, say, anxiety or depression, discussing your problems is hard enough without having to discuss them in front of other people. However, even if you are skeptical, you may be surprised how helpful group therapy can be. Here is why group therapy is a valuable part of so many treatment programs.
1. You see you’re not alone.
When you’re struggling with addiction or mental health issues, it’s common to feel isolated. You feel like you’re the only one who can’t get out of bed or can’t handle the thought of going to party where you don’t know many people.
When you participate in group therapy, you see that actually a lot of people feel the same way and have the same struggles. You don’t feel so uniquely burdened. When you talk about your challenges, you know some other people there have had the same problems.
2. You get better feedback.
It’s easy to understand other people’s problems and hard to understand our own. In group therapy, you can get honest feedback from supportive people. Having this perspective forces you to be honest with yourself and helps you distinguish valid concerns from rationalizations. In this respect, group therapy may be better than individual therapy.
You may suspect that a therapist doesn’t really understand your position, or that her assessment is just one of many possibilities. When several people who really do understand your position give you the same feedback, you are more likely to take it seriously.
3. You can practice social skills.
Often, poor social skills are a factor in mental illness or addiction. Many people have trouble being assertive or even articulating what they feel. Being honest about your feelings without alienating others, giving constructive criticism without being mean, and patiently resolving misunderstandings are all skills that require practice. Group therapy can be a safe place to learn these skills. As you get better at them, you will see improvements in your relationships outside the group.
4. The group is a good support system.
Everyone in the group is at a different place. Some people will have made a lot of progress and can be an example for your own recovery goals. Other people will really be struggling and you can help them out. That not only helps the other person, but it also makes you feel better about yourself. What’s more, you will know that whatever challenges you face, you will have a group that will listen and support you.