When considering therapy options, group therapy has much to offer and the advantages are so under-rated! From affordability to accountability, group therapy has the power to propel change and growth and build friendships too!
1: Group work is more affordable
Group therapy is an excellent, cost-effective alternative to individual therapy whilst not compromising on the quality of the service received.
Group therapy is considered an affordable therapy option as it enables multiple clients to be seen at once. This reduces the cost of therapy for group members as the cost of the therapist is essentially ‘divided’ between group members as opposed for each member paying for individual sessions. Individual therapy sessions are often expensive and unattainable for the majority, making group therapy an excellent, cost-effective alternative whilst not compromising on the quality of the service received!
2: Group work promotes universalism and social support
‘I am not the only one nor am I alone in my struggles’.
One of the key advantages of group work is that it affords members the chance to meet and interact with others who are experiencing the same or similar problems. This is important as often people feel isolated and alone in their struggles, and group therapy help to combat these feelings. Groups help members come to realize that other people experience the same feelings and struggles they do and are still worthy and likeable individuals none the less! This is so important in boosting self-esteem! As group members start to realize that other people experience the same struggles, their problems are normalized and become less taboo.
3: Social skills are promoted as a ‘by-product’ of the group
Groups are a safe environment in which social skills can be tested and developed.
The social aspect of group therapy not only provides support but provides a safe environment in which social skills can be tested and developed. Group therapy requires members to interact and form relationships with one another which encourages healthy social skills and offers members the chance to test behaviours or skills in a safe environment. It is also natural for groupwork to result in some level of conflict at times, which allows members to test out various ways of handling conflict and other social situations in a safe space.
4: Groups model and imitate social and family dynamics beyond the group giving insight into client behaviours and relationships outside of the group
Group members address issues and carry the skills learnt from the group into their relationships outside of therapy.
Group therapy is unique as it allows therapists to observe group member’s social interactions and behaviours with one another, providing insight into the way they communicate and interact outside of therapy. Therapists are then able to identify any problematic behaviours and/or communication patterns and give feedback to members, who can then address these issues and carry the skills learnt from the group into their relationships outside of therapy.
Group members have greater expectations of a collective commitment to the group therefore holding parties accountable to their progress so that the group facilitator doesn’t need to!
Groups promote accountability among members. A kind of healthy peer pressure ‘pushes’ members into participating in and engaging with the group through conversation, task completion, team work and homework tasks. This accountability is often the result of wanting to be accepted by the group and feel a sense of belonging. It also means the group facilitators don’t need to encourage participation or query non-participating members as the group members do it instead! This peer pressure propels group progress, resulting in group members reaching their collective goals and being challenged on problematic behaviours too!
6: Group Therapy promotes vulnerability
Individual therapy lacks these ‘subconscious social dynamics making vulnerability more challenging.
Group Therapy and the sense of belonging that is established therein creates a climate of peer support, which makes being vulnerable easier by reducing feelings of anxiety and discomfort. Vulnerability is also made easier as group members are able to watch others share first, and in turn, be motivated to share their own experiences. Individual therapy lacks these ‘subconscious social dynamics making vulnerability more challenging.
7: Group Therapy promotes unity across cultural, racial, religious and socio-economic barriers
Group members realize that multiple different narratives can co-exist and even be friends!
Good group composition requires members to share some similarities (i.e. the same underlying problem) so to relate to one another, but differences too so that a sense of diversity is established. This promotes learning and unity as group members who have different experiences, cultures, personalities etc. form relationships and share their perspectives and experiences. They realize that multiple narratives can co-exist and even be friends! A sense of unity also develops as group members realize people who are different to them share the same struggles and problems.
8: Groups promote confidence and self-esteem!
You always have a group of supporters in your court cheering you on!
The supportive environment which exists in group therapy is key in helping group members boost their self-esteem. The idea that group members have a group of people who will support them even if they fail motivates members to try new things and build their confidence. Members are also encouraged by watching other members successfully navigate their problems, and this can contribute to self-esteem development.
9: Groups are a great Out-Patient Alternative (might I even say the preferred alternative) to Individual Therapy
Groups are a reliable, affordable and accessible way for individuals to continue their therapeutic process externally and sustainably.
Group therapy forms an integral part of many in-patient programmes (e.g. rehabilitation) and these group sessions often becomes an essential part of individual’s recovery process. Therefore, groupwork serves as a reliable, affordable and accessible way for individuals to continue their therapeutic process externally and sustainably.
10: Group teaches participants mutuality!
Group members learn to give and receive, learn to share air time and learn to balance self and others.
The nature of group therapy and relationships between members means members learn to receive from the group, but also to contribute and give back. Effective groupwork requires members to have a sense of mutual interest and concern for one another. A sense of altruism also develops as members learn they are needed in the group and have something to offer.
- Cherry, K. 2021. What is group therapy? Very Well Mind. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-group-therapy-2795760#benefits-of-group-therapy
- Frank, J. 2020. 7 Benefits of group therapy. Citizen Advocates. Available at: https://citizenadvocates.net/blog/7-benefits-of-group-therapy/
- Guttmacher, J. A., & Birk, L. 1971. Group therapy: what specific therapeutic advantages. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 12(6): 546-556.
- Northern, H., & Kurland, R. 2001. Social Work with Groups. New York: Columbia University Press.
- Rutan, J. S. 2021. Reasons for suggesting group psychotherapy to patients. The American Journal of Psychotherapy. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.20200032