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What Is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists working with several people at the same time. This therapeutic modality is widely available at a variety of locations including private therapeutic practices, hospitals, mental health clinics, and community centers.

Group therapy is sometimes used alone, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy.

Group Types


Group therapy can be categorized into different types depending on your mental health condition as well as the clinical method used during the therapy. 

  • Cognitive behavioral groups, which center on identifying and changing inaccurate or distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors

  • Interpersonal groups, which focus on your interpersonal relationships and social interactions, including how much support you have from others and the impact these relationships have on your mental health

  • Psychoeducational groups, which focus on educating clients about their disorders and ways of coping often based on the principles of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)

  • Skills development groups, which focus on improving social skills in people with mental disorders or developmental disabilities

  • Support groups, which provide a wide range of benefits for people with a variety of mental health conditions as well as their loved ones

Groups can be as small as three or four people, but group therapy sessions often involve around eight to 12 individuals. 

Group therapy meetings may either be open or closed.

  • Open sessions, to which new participants are welcome to join at any time

  • Closed session, to which only a core group of members are invited to participate

What Group Therapy Can Help With

Group therapy is used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

  • Depression

  • Eating disorders

  • Generalized anxiety disorder

  • Panic disorder

  • Phobias

  • Grief and loss

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 

  • Combat trauma, TBI

  • Sexual Trauma

  • Substance use disorder

Benefits of Group Therapy


Advantages of group therapy include:

  • Group therapy allows people to receive the support and encouragement of the other members of the group. People participating in the group can see that others are going through the same thing, which can help them feel less alone.

  • Group members can serve as role models for other members of the group. By observing someone successfully coping with a problem, other members of the group can see that there is hope for recovery. As each person progresses, they can, in turn, serve as a role model and support figure for others. This can help foster feelings of success and accomplishment.

  • Group therapy is often very affordable. Instead of focusing on just one client at a time, the therapist can devote their time to a much larger group of people which reduces the cost for participants.

  • Group therapy offers a safe haven. The setting allows people to practice behaviors and actions within the safety and security of the group.

  • By working in a group, the therapist can see first-hand how each person responds to other people and behaves in social situations. Using this information, the therapist can provide valuable feedback to each client.

Things to Consider


Be Willing to Share

Especially if you struggle with social anxiety or phobias, sharing in a group might not be right for you. In addition, some types of group therapy involve exercises like role-playing and intense personal discussion, which can be overwhelming for people who are extremely private or uncomfortable around strangers.

You May Need to Try a Few Groups

Just like you might need to "shop" to find the right therapist, you may also need to try a few groups before you find the one that fits you best. Think a little about what you want and need, and consider what might be most comfortable or the best match for you.

It’s Not Meant for Crisis

There are limitations to group therapy and not all people are good candidates. If you or someone you love is in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, individual therapy is a better choice than group therapy. In general, group settings are best for individuals who are not currently in crisis.


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