Group therapy - what’s it all about?

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2 Sept 2020

Therapy groups are a fantastic way to find support and connect with others facing similar experiences. They bring people together, help you to see that you are not alone and can be a way to learn about yourself in relation to others. In joining with others in a group, you can develop skills in communication, see things from different perspectives, share learnings and develop some great networks of support.

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With so many in isolation due to COVID-19, online therapy groups are really gaining traction as a valid platform for growth, transformation and connection.

So what is involved? You probably have some questions, like...

  • What is group therapy?
  • How does it make a difference?
  • Are group or individual sessions best for me?
  • Do online groups even work?
  • What is involved?
  • What happens in online groups with Tempo?

Let’s take a look.

What is group therapy?

Group therapy offers people with similar issues a chance to come together at a regular time to find solutions for their needs.

Groups can have anywhere between 6 - 12 group members. Groups can be open, where they are ongoing and anyone can drop in anytime, or closed, where the same group of people meet for a set amount of time. Generally, where more trust is required, it is better to have a closed group so that participants can get to know each other over time. Groups can run for anywhere between 6 weeks and a year.

A therapy group will have a different focus depending on its purpose, the approach and training of the therapist, and the needs of the participants. Usually groups can be divided into two types:

  1. A psychoeducation group which focuses more on learning specific skills in order to bring about change. In this sort of group, the therapist sets the content and goals. Generally, psychoeducation groups focus on the content being learnt.
  2. A process group allows the individual and collective needs of the group to determine the group focus. The therapist facilitates this process, but encourages participants to explore themes and reponses together as they emerge. Broadly, these sorts of groups explore patterns of relating, responding and self awareness.

Both approaches to group therapy have their place, depending on the needs of those attending.

How does it make a difference?

Therapy groups can help with the same concerns that people address in individual therapy. However, the focus is very different from individual therapy. For example, in a group you have the benefit of

  • a chance to practice different ways of interacting, relating and negotiating
  • a safe space to share
  • a sounding board and support network
  • exploring issues from a number of different perspectives
  • gaining feedback and insights from other participants
  • a shared sense of purpose and working towards shared goals
  • being able to offer your support and insights to others (positive psychology research shows us that helping others is one of the pathways to happiness)
  • knowing that you are not alone (this can make a huge difference to your wellbeing and is one of the three components of self compassion).

Do online therapy groups even work?

There is growing evidence for the efficacy of online therapy, with studies showing that it is at least as effective as face to face therapy, particularly for anxiety and depression, both for individual treatment and with groups. Further, at least one study showed that more than half of participants (54%) preferred online to face to face therapy.

Are group or individual sessions best for me?

It is important for you and your therapist to work out if 1:1 or group therapy will be best for you. Groups are not appropriate for everybody. For example, if you are experiencing significant distress or have a lot of difficulty communicating or managing relationships with others, individual support is likely to be recommended as a first step.

Groups also have the added benefit of being more affordable than individual sessions.

What is involved?

It is important to make sure that participants in a therapy group will be compatible and make a good mix. An individual appointment is essential in order for you and your therapist to get to know each other, to ask questions and to work out what will be best for you.

Groups at Tempo

At the moment, groups at Tempo run for 6 weeks are closed to help build familiarity and trust for participants. Whilst there are some psychoeducative aspects, for the most part Tempo groups focus on the individual and shared process as it emerges for participants in the moment.

Here is an outline of the steps to participating in a therapy group at Tempo:

  1. If you would like to know more, book a free 20 minute consult.
  2. Attend a 50 minute individual session to determine if group is a good fit for you
  3. Attend 6 weekly group sessions.
  4. Groups at Tempo include two individual 30 minute appointments for follow up at the end of the group program and for another for use at any time during the 6 week period. (Available for up to 2 months following the group).

Related Resources

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