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Group Therapy

What is group therapy?

Group therapy is a way to treat mental health problems. A therapist works with a group of 6 to 10 people. Talking and working with other group members may help you to understand and change your own behavior.

Group therapy is not the same as a support group. Support groups usually do not include a therapist. The purpose of support groups is to help people feel that they are not alone. Alcoholics Anonymous is an example of a support group.

When is it used?

Group therapy may help with problems such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Eating disorders
  • Relationship problems

How does it work?

Group members usually have something in common. For example, there are groups for married couples, women, men, children, and people who are grieving the death of a loved one.

Therapy groups may have different ways of doing things. But everyone takes turns to talk about themselves and their problems. The group members give feedback and the therapist guides the discussion.

You may stay in a group for as long as you need to and new people can join. Or you may be in a closed group, with the same people, for the entire time the group meets. There may be a limited amount of time the closed group will meet, for example, 12 weeks or 6 months.

Group therapy can help you change the way you feel and the way you act.

  • You can talk about your feelings and experiences in a supportive setting.
  • You may feel less lonely and less isolated when you learn that other people struggle with similar issues.
  • You may get helpful feedback from the therapist or from other group members to help you solve your problems.
  • If you respect your therapist or group members, you can change your behavior to match theirs.
  • You can learn and practice healthier ways to deal with other people.
  • You may learn that you can help other people with your feedback, which can boost your self-esteem and change how you relate to people outside the group.
  • Your group can become a great source of support as you learn new ways of dealing with problems.

How do I find a therapist?

Ask questions and get referrals from people you know and trust. You could check with:

  • Your healthcare provider
  • Your clergyman, school teachers, or school counselors
  • Friends or family members who have been in therapy
  • Your health insurance company
  • Your employee assistance program (EAP) at work
  • Local mental health or human service agencies
  • Professional associations of psychologists, psychiatrists, or counselors
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-04-17
Last reviewed: 2014-04-03
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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