We are often hurt in groups and we can heal in groups.
What Are the Benefits of Group Therapy?
Group therapy takes place when a therapist meets with a group of people with the intention of helping them change therapeutically. Sometimes two therapists co-lead a group. Group sizes and lengths vary according to the developmental stage of the people in the group (children, teens or adults), the nature of the group (weekend intensive versus weekly), and the purpose of the group. In group therapy, any number of therapeutic theories/techniques can be applied.
At the Southeast Institute for Group and Family therapy, the primary therapeutic modality used for most weekly group is redecision therapy, which incorporates transactional analysis and gestalt therapy into an experiential transformative therapy that helps clients make lasting change in potentially short amounts of time. For group couples therapy, we combine redecision therapy, attachment theory, the developmental model, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and research by the Gottmans. For children and adolescent therapy, we incorporate play therapy, sand tray therapy, and the expressive arts. Some groups are led by one therapist and others are co-led by two therapists.
Group therapy can be anxiety-provoking at first. Most people, however, come to look forward to the group therapy and the group itself as it becomes a comfortable harbor to experiment with change and experience support. Group therapy provides a microcosm of the world in which you can experience how others see you and safely experiment with new ways of being.
The groups we currently offer are:
- Ongoing groups for everyone:
- Weekly Teen Group for Girls, Saturday 10:30 am – 12 pm, led by Emily Keller, PhD
- Weekly Group for Women, Tuesday, 9:30 – 11 am
- Weekly Tuesday Group, Tuesday 4:30 – 6:30 pm co-led by Vann Joines, PhD & Emily Keller, PhD
- Monthly Tuesday Group, 1st Tuesday 1:15 – 3:00 pm, led by Vann Joines, PhD
- Short-term groups for everyone:
- Couples Weekends
- Ongoing groups for therapists:
- Monthly Group Therapy for Therapists, Thursday 9 am – 4:30 pm, co-led by Vann Joines, PhD & Emily Keller, PhD
Irving Yalom identified the therapeutic factors of group therapy. They are:
Universality: The healing power of the realization that others have the same feelings and concerns. Universality normalizes experiences, validates us, and helps us feel not so alone.
Instillation of Hope: Because group members are in different places along their paths of growth, renewal, and healing, they inspire each other almost naturally and help instill hope into others.
Altruism: The experience that group members help each other. We benefit when others lift us and we benefit when we feel as though we are lifting others.
Imparting Information: Everyone brings their knowledge to the group. Through the process of sharing, group members get valuable information about available resources and other useful facts.
Socialization: Group therapy is ideal for helping people develop social skills or deal with the anxieties of meeting and learning to trust others.
Corrective Recapitulation of the Primary Family Experience: Group members bond in ways that are reminiscent of bonds they shared with family members growing ups, stirring up old feelings. The group therapist is trained at helping group members distinguish what is going on in the here and now from what went on in the there and then. This allows for insight, growth, healing, and corrective experiences.
Cohesion: Group therapy goes through its own process of growth culminating in a sense that the group members are “in this together.” Group therapy bestows a sense of belonging–meeting a very fundamental human need.
Modeling: Group members learn by watching and copying the therapist and others.
Existential factors: Group therapy promotes the experience that we are responsible for our actions and their consequences.
Catharsis: The group serves as an emotional container. When group members join together and share their emotions and stories. They release them into the container of the group and leave feeling somehow “lighter.”
Interpersonal Learning: Group members learn from others’ feedback, verbal and nonverbal.
Self-understanding: One benefit of group therapy is that members gain insight into who they are and why they do the things they are doing.
If you are interested in learning more about group therapy, call Meredith Castevens at (919) 929-1171.