Part One: Therapy in a Group Format

May 1, 2023

Group therapy can be a game-changer for people struggling with mental health issues or life challenges. In a group therapy setting, individuals have the opportunity to connect with others who are facing similar difficulties, and to work through their problems together.

This month, we will dive into the benefits of group therapy and explore how it can help you achieve personal growth and healing.

Amy Andrukonis, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work

Groups are so special. Running social skills groups for kids grades K-2 is one of the most fun parts of my job. So often as adults we focus on “teaching” kids skills that they learn naturally in relationships with one another. Of course, as a group facilitator, I guide my participants, but the coolest moments in a group are when one child learns from the experience of another or receives feedback from a peer that resonates more deeply than my feedback ever could. All I need to do is set the stage, and they make the magic happen without much help from me.

And isn’t this true for us, too? It’s one thing to hear from an expert, “you’re not the only one. I can help you.” But it is SO much more powerful to connect with a friend who shows us – “the same thing is happening for me. I’m working on that too. Let’s do this together.”

Grace Lozano, Licensed Professional Counselor 

Groups are truly one of the coolest forms of therapy out there! Irvin Yalom, a classic group therapy guru, identified the 11 “therapeutic factors” that are specific to why group therapy is so special. While I could certainly go in-depth into all 11, these are the ones that I have witnessed as the most poignant in my own work: Instillation of Hope, Universality, Imparting Information, and Altruism.

Exploring the Special Features

Instillation of Hope: There is something transformative about witnessing positive change within others who are going through, or have gone through, similar challenges as you. A big part of remaining steady in recovery is holding out hope that others before you have recovered, and so can you. I have seen group members who are further along in their recovery emerge as leaders that other group members use as anchors when they begin to feel that their own recovery is not possible.

Universality: Often, when we struggle, we feel immense shame related to feeling alone in our experiences. There is so much power in realizing that you are not alone in feeling the way that you feel. I have witnessed the palpable relief of a person in a group session hearing another put something into words that they had never before been able to articulate. It almost feels less heavy when you know you’re not carrying it alone.

Imparting Information: My goodness, group members are smart. Someone could see a therapist for years learning different tools and strategies, but there is just something about being able to hear real-world examples of times that others in similar situations have used these strategies and they have worked. I’ve even seen group members whip out notebooks during group to take notes on what their fellow group members are sharing.

Altruism: During recovery, individuals often experience significant drops in self-esteem and increasing feelings of burdensomeness. Groups provide ample opportunities for group members to support others and provide insight into others’ experiences. I’ve witnessed group members experience profound transformations in their own recovery and self-esteem through recognizing the value that they play in the group dynamics.

If this piques your interest in groups, check out our Group Therapy options!

Stay tuned for the second part of Therapy in a Group Format. And don’t forget to visit our Group Therapy page!

Until next time, Be Wise!