Is Group Therapy as Effective as Individual Therapy?

You have decided it is time to get support for the challenges you are facing.  You have already done the hardest part by recognizing that you no longer want to face what is challenging you alone.  The decision to start therapy can be scary.  It can be even scarier when you are unsure of what to expect or when you feel overwhelmed by all the different types of therapy out there. 

Perhaps, you are new to therapy.  Sometimes, it can be difficult to know just what type of therapy will work best for you and the issues you are facing.  A quick Internet search will show seemingly unlimited options.  It can be difficult, not to mention overwhelming, to decide on the right approach for you.  You may even be wondering, are my challenges better suited for individual or group therapy?  Research shows that both modes of therapy are equally effective.  There are, however significant differences in the focus of these therapies and how they can best help you best navigate your unique life challenges. 

It is also important to recognize that individual therapy and group therapy are not mutually exclusive.  It is often common practice that both modes of therapy go hand in hand and can be used as a “two-fold” approach.   So just what are the benefits of group therapy?

What is Group Therapy? 

First, what exactly is group therapy? In its simplest definition, group therapy is a gathering of like-minded people who meet on a regular basis to offer mutual support and discuss ways they are coping with life challenges.  Groups may meet for several weeks, months or even stay connected for years.  Groups may be open, new members are welcome to join at any time, or closed, where all members begin at the same time.  Groups can also be peer-led or be led by a therapist.  

What Will I Gain From Joining a Support Group?

Whatever form of therapy you choose, you are likely to receive a wide range of benefits.  Professionally facilitated online support groups are unique in that they rely on the support of the group as well as the input of the therapists.  Here are five additional benefits associated with joining professionally facilitated support groups. 

  1. Group Therapy is Cost Effective:  Individual therapy can be expensive and group therapy can be offered at just a fraction of the cost.  Individual sessions can cost up to 200.00 per hour, whereas group therapy can cost as little as $20.00 per hour.  
  1. Groups Therapy Provides the Power of Universality:  It is common when you are suffering to feel alone with your feelings. But when you join a support group, it can be tremendously comforting and a huge relief to learn that you are not the only one facing this problem or the only one who feels a certain way about an issue.  At 7Chairs we have learned the more homogenous the group the easier it is for members to connect and find hope and comfort together.
  1. Group Therapy Allows You to See Yourself in Others:  Discussing your issues in a group setting can reveal insights about yourself that in the past you may have been too close to see.  Discussion topics are organically generated by the group allowing for varying perspectives to common problems.  Group therapy also give you the opportunity to model successful behaviors, while reflecting on your own. 
  1. Group Therapy Allows You to Tap into a Social Network and Beat Loneliness: Whether you have recently lost a loved one, are facing a divorce, a cancer diagnosis or any other life challenge you may be facing new found loneliness.  Becoming a member of a support group will help you gain a sense of belonging and acceptance.  Friendships also develop and extend outside of the formal group meetings, many continuing for years to come.
  1. Group Therapy is More Than Peer Support: Therapists who lead professionally facilitated group sessions can help group members navigate issues with specialized expertise.   Whereas, group members and peers are a valuable source of support, professionally facilitated groups offer benefits beyond forums or informal self-help groups.  

Group therapy can be a helpful resource no matter the challenges you are facing.  And the good news is the different types of support groups available are plenty. So, whatever, challenges you are facing there is likely a support group waiting for a valued member, just  like you. 

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