The setting for group therapy plays a large part in individuals staying with—or dropping out of—the group. Several key components make for an optimal setting for group therapy.
Small groups and participation
An optimal therapy group size is between six and fifteen participants, with one or two therapists. The smaller and more intimate the group, the easier it is to notice when someone is missing. If the group is larger, it is much more likely an absence will go unnoticed. Members of a smaller group miss each other when someone is absent. This recognition is motivation to attend.
Also, it’s important for attendees to go to every meeting, arrive on time and stay for the entire length of the meeting. The group process is disrupted when there is irregular attendance, or when participants are coming late or leaving early.
Additionally, some members may find it challenging to open up to large groups of people. However, when the group is smaller and everyone can feel more connected to each other, sharing one’s story can feel more natural and less like a group presentation.
The success of any therapy group depends on obedience to the guidelines explained to all group members. One of the primary expectations is how members treat each other’s information. Participants are advised not to reveal any personal or identifying information about other group members outside of meetings, as well as not share the stories of others to anyone outside the group.
Following confidentiality rules helps encourage participation without fear of deep emotions and private stories leaking out. Complex issues can then be worked on within a trusted setting.
Group members are encouraged to talk with each other in a spontaneous and truthful manner like they would in a conversation with a friend.
The therapist guides participants as they closely look at issues or concerns needing to be addressed. This process cultivates interaction between members and helps members to improve their own interpersonal relationships.
Group therapy benefits
When an optimally sized group honors confidentiality and talks spontaneously and honestly in an emotionally safe atmosphere, the benefits for each member include:
Many opportunities to learn with and from other people and their experiences;
More understanding of your own patterns of thought and behavior and those of others;
Greater perception of how people in a group react to one another;
Learning you’re not as different as you may have thought;
Learning that you’re not alone;
Tools in coping with difficulties like divorce, domestic violence and grief and loss;
We interact with groups for most of our daily lives through family, work, school and social events. Thus, it makes sense to work through addiction and mental health issues within a group context as well. Therapy in a group can help someone gain a new “family.” Group members help each other learn and grow in ways that others might not have been capable of.
Also, many people struggle with intimacy, conflict or both. A group is a good way to better understand how to relate to others.
Keep in mind, maximizing benefits is up to you. The more involved you are with your group, the more you’ll get out of it.
Considering group therapy?
Perhaps you need additional support during active inpatient treatment, are more comfortable talking in a group than in a one-on-one setting or want continued community following the completion of treatment – no matter your motivation, group therapy is a beneficial option.
Pyramid Healthcare is pleased to offer group therapy as a vital component of our mental health care programs. To speak with someone about group therapy options in your area, give us a call anytime at 888-694-9996.