Our group therapy in Philadephia, PA has several benefits! The most significant benefits are therapeutically based peer support and validation. Group therapy can also be helpful for those needing a little extra accountability. Group therapy also tends to be more affordable than individual sessions.
Adult men, adult women, children, teenagers, parents, families, and couples can benefit from group therapy in Philadelphia. Support groups connect people of all ages and genders!
Learn more about what group therapy is and the different options available at The Better You Institute.
What is group therapy?
Group therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which one or more therapists treat a small group of clients together. Different kinds of groups operate differently. However, most groups meet regularly, usually weekly or biweekly, for an hour and a half each session. Depending on the group’s main topic, the group may consist of individuals coming on their own or couples coming together.
In group therapy, certified therapists lead people who have similar experiences or mental health concerns. The group therapist(s) will provide safety, support, insight, and practical problem-solving strategies. However, the group members determine the focus of each session, many times discussing an individual issue that relates to the group at large.
Group members share their experiences by being vulnerable and taking risks. This helps each group member break out of holding patterns they find themselves in. With the help of the group and the cathartic feeling they may experience through being witnessed in their stories, group members learn coping strategies, make shifts in their patterns, and learn how to sit in their worthiness. A group leader helps create a comfortable environment for everyone to be open and honest about what they are going through. It also allows participants to support each other and give in a way that may feel different to them as they progress through treatment.
What can group therapy services help with?
Group psychotherapy aims to create a support system among individuals who are facing similar issues. Group therapy can be very efficient if you are struggling with one or many of the following:
Negatively thinking about yourself can be very harmful to your mental health. Through group therapy sessions, you can improve your self-image and self-awareness by having new lived experiences in the safety of a group. Indeed, you will explore how you interact with others and challenge yourself to shift your interactions to build confidence and self-esteem. There is safety in knowing you’re not alone in this and that others are working toward the same thing and taking the same risks as you are.
Much like a chronic illness, chronic stress can wreak havoc on someone’s life! For people who are experiencing ongoing stress, finding a support group can be beneficial. If you have a specific goal in mind, such as managing negative self-talk or learning how to soothe your senses during stressful times, you can seek out a group that is tailored to your needs. Or, you can find a group that targets the specific issues that cause your stress in the first place. Stress can come from anything from daily events to mental or physical health issues.
Therapy groups can provide a valuable opportunity to develop practical coping skills, learn from other patients’ experiences, and share emotional support. Group members can encourage one another to make healthy choices and help weather periods of intense mood swings.
Loss or Grief
Therapy groups can help people struggling with grieving by offering hope, encouragement, understanding, and empathy. Members of a bereavement group may help each other work through the emotional issues of losing a loved one. Going through a loss can feel incredibly lonely, but you don’t have to do it alone. Having the support of others who have also experienced a loss can help your process.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Individuals with PTSD tend to respond well to retelling their stories in a safe space where they can process what happened to them. Joining a weekly group led by a professional therapist provides the safety you need to work toward empowerment. By retelling your story and hearing the stories of others, individuals with PTSD can begin to heal. Through the work done in group therapy, symptoms will start to dissipate, and it is easier to stay on track to recovery. Sharing the experiences with others who have had similar trauma can help people recognize that they are not alone and learn how others have successfully coped during difficult times.
Substance Abuse and Addiction
If you’re struggling with substance addiction, meeting regularly with other people in recovery can be very helpful. Unlike Alcoholics Anonymous, which focuses on mutual support and encouragement among members, group therapy hones in on your individual story and how you got here today. Whether you are using alcohol, cocaine, meth, etc., you are numbing out the pain within you. Substance group therapy is for everyone who is using and finds it to be problematic. Your issues are not too small or too large for the group. You will identify the traumas and the pain that led you to substance use, such as feeling abandoned, getting abused, or possibly untreated mental health issues. You will heal from your trauma by therapeutically telling your story. The therapist will guide the group in a formulated way that helps you process your life.
When you’re depressed, you may feel like you’re a burden to others. You tend not to share because “no one wants to hear me complain again.” In group therapy, you can experience something different. Instead of feeling like you’re bothering others with your lived experience, you are joining and connecting with others through your similar truths. Therapy groups can be beneficial for individuals who are feeling isolated or hopeless. If you experience suicidal thoughts, the strongest form of depression, you can also join suicide groups. Therapy groups can support and educate on coping strategies for people going through depression while allowing you to be in your depression. Once you can fully embrace where you are today, you can work toward a change for tomorrow.
Anxiety can be so exhausting! Your mind is constantly running, and you feel overwhelmed. Surrounding yourself with others can help normalize your thoughts while also helping to put some things in perspective. Experienced therapists running groups can help guide the conversations where you will understand your racing thoughts (e.g., perfectionism or the need for control) and how to work through these underlying issues. The group can offer support for change and can gently challenge your thoughts.
Anxiety in its most extreme form can cause panic attacks. These are moments when you feel like you can’t breathe, your chest gets tight (you may think you have a heart attack), the room starts to spin, your thoughts are running a mile a minute, you may even pass out. A therapy group can help you learn to control panic attacks through identifying and labeling your triggers, exercises, breathing techniques, and sharing your experiences. Sharing your experience allows you to express some of the thoughts and emotions at the crux of your panic attacks. In turn, these things may not feel as extreme to you, therefore reducing your risk of panic attacks.
Anger can come on quickly but leave lasting damage. Surprising to some, anger is usually a secondary emotion covering up or protecting you from feeling unworthy, not good enough, like a failure, unloveable, etc. Group therapy services can help you learn what’s under the anger and how to recognize and control your anger triggers. Group therapy will help you explore and process these underlying beliefs about yourself in the presence of others also feeling this way. Anger management groups will teach you how to communicate your feelings to allow others to hear you and respond in a supportive way. Group therapy will also teach you listening skills, which can improve interpersonal relationships.
Young adults going through puberty and experiencing some difficult social challenges may benefit from anger management groups as well. Growing up is not easy, and the social pressures can feel overwhelming and challenging to work through without the right tools. It can be challenging to watch your child go through intense emotions, leaving you feeling helpless as a parent. Group therapy can help both children and parents learn new tools to get through extreme emotional times.
Phobias can be the cause of previous trauma. Phobias are intense fear reactions that may be holding you back from experiences in your life. If you have a phobia, attending a therapy group can help reduce these fears by providing exposure therapy and practicing mindfulness exercises.
Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a severe issue in the United States. Whether you were sexually, emotionally, or physically abused, group therapy can serve as major support and uplifter in your journey toward healing. On average, someone will leave an abusive relationship and come back seven times. We understand that leaving and starting over can be difficult and that your abuser doesn’t make it easy on you. You are not alone; group therapy can help give you the support and encouragement you need to find your peace.
A therapy group can also help survivors of sexual abuse or violence. Too often, our stories go untold out of fear for what it means for you or not wanting to relive everything under the lights of a police station or court of law. Group therapy can be a warm and inviting space for you to share your story of survival. You can feel empowered in the presence of others. Group therapy can help you feel less alone about your experiences and talk with others who have had similar experiences.
Being in a long-term, committed relationship has its challenges. You most likely have a ton of strengths in your relationship, but there’s something that feels off or missing. Group therapy can be the answer to finding your true happiness together. All members of the relationship attend the sessions. Hearing that other couples go through similar events can feel validating to your own experiences. Sometimes, it’s easier to listen to things from an outside source in the presence of your partner(s). When a group member softly challenges you, you may be more inclined to hear it, even if this is something that your partner has said before. Relationship group therapy sessions allow partners to try new ways of communicating with each other and the other group members.
Adjustment to Change
Change is difficult for most people—our brains like patterns, consistency, and stability. Whether you perceive the change to be a positive thing in your life (marriage, buying a home, going to college) or a negative (divorce, downsizing to more affordable homes, dropping out of school), group therapy can give you a one-up on making sure you get through the change on top. To hear how others process change and to see others overcome change while sharing your story can be enlightening. It can help you manage the stress of change and give space for problem-solving things as they arise.
In general, group settings are best for individuals who are not currently in crisis. If you are in crisis, individual therapy might be a better choice until you can join a therapy group that’s right for you.
What are the five types of group therapy?
Support groups led by experienced therapists can help you overcome personal challenges and support you in your healing process. There are five types of group therapy that can connect people.
The five types of group therapy are:
1- Self-Help/Support Groups
Self-help group therapy is a group of people going through similar circumstances and sharing their experiences and feelings in a safe space. The main goal is to provide support, acceptance, and nurturing and help members feel less alone about their experiences or emotions, as well as help them uncover new insights into problems they are facing.
These can help with building self-esteem, managing negative thoughts, improving interpersonal relationships, and more. These groups do not tend to dive into the depths of an individual’s core, as noticed by the therapist. Instead, these groups are member-driven, and each individual picks the direction and tone of the group.
The goal is to enable members with specific issues to share their experiences, support each other and provide encouragement. Participants work together on projects that help individual members with their problems or improve their community.
2- Cognitive Behavioral Groups
Cognitive-behavioral groups center on identifying and changing inaccurate or distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors that stand in the way of achieving one’s potential. The therapist may encourage the group members to challenge one another in conversation and challenge themselves to think, feel, and act differently in the safety of the group.
This type of group therapy helps participants change thinking and behavior patterns to improve communication skills and interpersonal relationships by using cognitive behavioral therapy strategies.
3- Process-Oriented Therapy Groups
Therapists and patients are more focused on the therapeutic process itself rather than particular concerns. The group is likely to explore the members’ interactions and relationships with each other. Therefore, the therapist will focus less on the content and context of someone’s stories and more on the process the participant partook in and encourage them to restructure their process with the help of other group members.
This type of group is used to provide support and encouragement during the process of change. Couples groups, individuals with low self-esteem, distorted thinking, and anger management will benefit greatly from this type of group.
4- Problem-Solving Groups and Skills Development Groups
People attending these group sessions have the same or similar problems in their life. The goal is to find practical solutions by discussing the issues and different ways of solving them together. It teaches specific skills or information to learn how to cope through various techniques such as breathing exercises, practicing positive self-talk, trust-building, communication tools, and other activities.
Common goals are coping with stress, socializing, communication, assertiveness training, or self-exploration.
5- Psychoeducational Groups
This type of group focuses more on the cognitive mental processes than the emotional and behavioral processes. A psychoeducational group may also have more of a lecture-like feel versus a collaborative, conversational feel. The therapist tends to be the teacher, while the group members take a more student role.
Psychoeducational groups teach clients various topics, such as depression symptoms, the neuroscience behind trauma, family dynamic issues, introducing Kink or BDSM into your relationship, etc. These groups might also touch on new ways of coping. Psychoeducational groups combine educational elements and practical skills training for specific issues. These might focus on stress management, healthy communication, or other topics designed to help participants in their daily lives.
Interacting in this group allows you to express how you feel and think freely, without fear or shame. The main goal is to provide a safe environment to share your deepest fears, secrets, and emotions with ease knowing you will receive support. It also increases self-awareness and understanding.
Open versus Closed Groups
Depending on the needs of the group members, the therapist may choose to keep a group open or closed. An open therapy group is when anyone can come each week. There is less of a formula for the group’s movement based on different members coming in and adding different dynamics to the group each week. Alcoholics anonymous is an example of an open group. This type of group lends itself to the members having more anonymity, which may help them be more vulnerable faster.
A closed therapy group is when there are the same people each week for a set amount of time. Typically, closed therapy groups run anywhere from 8-12 weeks, and there is a format the therapist is following to reach the treatment goals the group has set for themselves. This type of group tends to create more cohesiveness between group members. Still, it may be a slower process for each member to be vulnerable, knowing they will see each other the following week.
What are the benefits of being in group therapy?
In general, research shows that having a robust social support system is essential for good mental health, healing, and recovery. Studies have shown that individuals who are part of support groups or have a strong social support system are more likely to be physically active, take their medications regularly, eat healthy foods, get enough rest, and improve recovery from surgery. Having good social support decreases stress, increases feelings of confidence and self-esteem.
Some of the most common benefits include:
Therapists ensure to create a safe place where you can share how you feel and explore your mental health. Indeed, during your first group therapy session, the therapist will guide the group in creating rules for safety for the group.
Moving forward in group therapy, the therapist works to guide the group in a supportive, helpful manner while having the group follow the set rules. Group therapy can also provide safety in numbers where all the focus isn’t on you like it would be in an individual session with the therapist.
Group therapy brings people who have similar experiences together and allows them to grow together. It can be a safe way to help build identities and connections between each other by letting members know that they are not the only ones going through these experiences.
Altruism & Positive Support System
During therapy, group members can help, encourage, lead, and assist one another in their healing process. The feeling of giving and providing to others can be healing in and of itself. Therapy is a place you can receive and provide support to other adults, parents, families and meet new lifetime friends.
Mirroring those we find influential or connected to is an instinct based on our neurochemistry. Imitation can be a form of flattery and serves as a modeling technique for those trying to teach. New clients who participate in a group session may imitate the behaviors they observe in more senior members or the therapist(s). Mirroring can make a change or learning new behaviors easier when seen in another person first.
Members can feel a sense of belonging when they are part of a group with a shared objective. Coming together sometimes to help one person out or to make a decision can feel empowering. You may also learn how to ask for help or take more risks with the backing of a cohesive group. Going to group therapy can help you feel you’re not alone and enhance your growth.
Speaking your truth out loud has power. Sometimes keeping things in our head can lead to negative self-talk, low mood, or sabotaging behaviors. Checking in with others, being witnessed in our truths is a pathway to change and growth. Sharing your feelings, experiences, and agony with a group may assist members in releasing bottled emotions that hold us back, such as rage, resentment, unfairness, or worry. Simply by being seen and heard person can make a movement toward change.
Is Group Therapy Affordable?
Group therapy tends to be less costly per person in group therapy than seeing the therapist for an hour on your own. Group therapy sessions tend to be 90-120 minutes versus the typical 50-minute individual or couple sessions. Group therapy (online or in-person) is a cost-effective way to meet your therapy goals and gain insights!
FAQ’s Group Therapy
How many people are in the group?
While it can be performed with as few as three individuals, an ideal group consists of 8-12 members meeting weekly or biweekly.
Do you need to share everything about your personal life?
While being open and honest is essential to the process, sticking to the group vibe is important. You will get a sense of how much to share and the placement of it within the group. Under sharing may throw off the group’s equality and cohesiveness. At the same time, oversharing may be less vulnerable and leave the group feeling less safe with you. Group members should only share what they feel comfortable sharing and if when they want to.
What if I don’t get along with the group?
If the group is a closed group, the therapist should be meeting with you beforehand to see if you’d be a good fit for the group. If you find yourself not getting along with someone or feeling triggered, ask yourself if this is a part of why you’re in the group in the first place. Can you use this information you’re sensing within yourself for your therapeutic process? Or, did you think the group was about one topic, and once you joined, you realized it was about something else and isn’t a great fit for you. Every person is different, and you might need to try to visit various groups before finding the one that fits you the best and will lead to a better quality of life for you.
Connect with us for Group Therapy
Group therapy services provide an excellent opportunity to meet others who are going through similar problems that you are facing. Group therapy is a great way to gain insight and heal as people learn coping skills by interacting with other group members.
At The Better You Institute, we acknowledge that an important aspect of group therapy is having a trained therapist who facilitates the sessions, ensuring that the experience is positive and productive.
Choose between our experienced therapists in Philadelphia, PA to start your recovery journey today with The Better You Institute.