We get it. Group therapy can be an intimidating thought.
If you are a person who struggles with anxiety, it might take all the courage you can muster to walk into a group room. If you struggle with depression, you may not have the energy to face a group of other people today.
Allow us to share some rationale for attending a group. Some of the reasons are based on clinical research. Some we have heard from our clients through the years. Either way, there are many reasons for adding group work to your individual counseling.
“How’s that working for you?”
Let’s start by pointing out that group work is usually a supplement to regular outpatient therapy. It is a higher level of care that is added when weekly visits to a counselor just aren’t enough. You may need more practice with the behavioral skills your counselor discusses during your individual sessions. Groups are a great place to discover situations in which you would apply those skills, or to discuss how you have tried to apply them in your daily life.
More intensive group therapy offers the opportunity to monitor symptoms daily and practice more intently under the supervision of a therapist. An intensive outpatient program (IOP) offers group therapy on a daily basis for several weeks. The frequency of the group work and the accountability the group members provide for each other contribute to faster progress. Think of an IOP group as a “higher dose” of therapy with the extra monitoring and accountability you need.
The numerical outcomes of group therapy back up what we observe. Group members typically see vastly improved scores on measures of their symptoms, and they are able to maintain those improved levels. Upon discharge from the group, nearly all clients show improvement in their ability to function in their daily lives.
“I know what you mean.”
If you are used to sharing your thoughts in a private session with your counselor, you might hesitate about sharing with other people in a group. Once you get over this hurdle, you’ll find that your fellow group members are going through similar challenges.
It’s one thing for a therapist to encourage you to try a new strategy. When a fellow member of your group shares his or her experience applying a strategy in real life, you gain a sense of camaraderie. Someone else has similar struggles, shares your experience. Group members have the opportunity to practice their skills in a safe, non-judgmental social setting. This practice provides confidence and the ability to transfer these skills into other settings. There is also a sense of satisfaction from members helping one another and supporting each other.
It’s OK to be afraid. Just be open-minded. If your outpatient therapist suggests group therapy, trust the process. It is designed to help you feel better, faster. You are not alone. Your group experience will help you see that and get you on the road to feeling better, like your true self once again.
If you would like to learn more about the GROWTH Intensive Outpatient Program at Christian Family Solutions, please contact us. Our team is here to help at 800-438-1772. Or visit https://christianfamilysolutions.org/christian-counseling-care-and-services/intensive-outpatient-counseling/#adult-iop-growth