Many clients look a little perplexed when a therapist suggests that they consider engaging in some group therapy alongside their current individual sessions. Common responses that therapists hear include “What can I get out of that that I am not already covering herein session?” or ” I don’t want to talk about my stuff in a group, and I don’t want to hear everyone else’s problems!”
Yet there are a couple of pertinent differences between individual and group therapy that may sound cliche – but actually can make all the difference to your therapeutic outcomes.
The benefit of hearing someone else’s experiences is that this can help us reflect on ourselves; better understand other’s in our lives; and comprehend “why” we react the way we do. You see “storytelling” has been a vehicle of personal development and learning throughout history, and these days we rarely spend enough time amongst our “tribe” hearing the valuable lessons as told through a story. Hearing your experiences being told to you with a few degree’s of separation (being someone else’s story) can be enlightening and inspiring.
It is often through this that people also recognise their own value and strengths, as we are usually much more prepared to see this in others (as they tell their stories) than we are willing to credit ourselves (within our own very similar natured stories).
Furthermore, group therapy provides you the dynamic of relationship to learn from. Rather than just one (always appropriate, responsive, supportive confidant) as with an individual therapist, a whole group of individuals who are experiencing you and your story as it reflects to them can provide valuable challenges and growth, that the sole therapist can not.
Everyone feels nervous coming into a group program – it requires trust…and courage – but most experiences that heal and develop us do.