Therapeutic groups and what they can offer you

If you are reading this, you may be contemplating joining a therapeutic group (some refer to this as group therapy).

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As you hold that thought in mind, see how you find yourself responding to the following questions:

  • Do you feel isolated?
  • Do you often feel lonely? Even when you are with people?
  • Does it cross your mind that you are alone with the way you feel?
  • Are you curious about what others think about you?
  • Are you curious about others’ views on how you respond to them?

If any, or even all, of your answers to these questions are a "yes", then a therapeutic group might well be for you.

Learning options

In a therapeutic group, there is the option for you to:


  • Learn about yourself from others and with the support of others.
  • Ask for feedback on how you are being received by others.
  • Experiment with relating to others in different ways.

Safety

Dissimilar to many of the other groups that you might be part of in your life, a therapeutic group is set up with clear, stated boundaries, a prepared set of guidelines around how it operates alongside some expectations of its group members. This leads the group to having a higher potential of becoming a place of safety for you. A place of safety where all group members share some crossover in their aims for being in the group e.g. to learn about themselves, look at how they relate to others and experiment with something different. 

We live and learn in groups

Have you ever had the sudden realisation that other people’s families operate in a different way to your own?

We initially learn how to relate to others in those very first groups that we are part of. For many, the first group we learn within is some type of family grouping and then groups within a schooling system and later possibly work. Given this, does it not make sense to continue learning about ourselves, how we relate to others, as well as how we are received, within another group?

Isn’t individual therapy best?

Individual therapy can be so helpful. Learning in group therapy can be so helpful. One is not better than the other - they are just different. 

Beyond a therapeutic group being a different way to learn about ourselves, as compared to individual therapy, therapeutic groups generally require a lower financial investment per month. Again, this does not mean that a therapeutic group is of lower value than individual therapy - it is simply a different way of learning about ourselves with multiple people to learn with, from and in relation to. 

Are therapy groups for everyone?

A therapeutic group can be a really useful space to reflect if you are feeling curious about the part that you play in what is happening for you in your life.

It would be natural for you to wonder if there is anyone for whom a therapeutic group might not be beneficial. Generally speaking, the answer to that would be “no”, as a therapeutic group can be of benefit to many of us.

That said, if you find yourself in the midst of a crisis, or feeling continually overwhelmed, you may feel that individual therapy might be the steady and containing space that feels most beneficial at this time. Aligned to this, whilst a therapeutic group can mean different sources of support from multiple people - which may feel incredibly helpful - multiple people in the group, with a variety of concerns to explore, can of course result in the group shifting its focus. If you feel you want a sustained focus on your concerns then you may decide that individual therapy would most benefit you right now. 

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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London SE6 & SE4
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Written by Alison Sutcliffe, MBACP Accredited
London SE6 & SE4

Alison Sutcliffe is a BACP accredited counsellor & psychotherapist who has supported clients since 2009. Alison completed training in working with groups in 2011 and since then has worked with groups of young people, groups of therapy students and groups of adults within an NHS setting and is most recently offering a Women's Therapeutic Group.

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