Parents often understand the importance of individual therapy and how it can help adolescents work through mental and behavioral issues. However, group therapy is another important tool that provides a different set of benefits. Group therapy has become a well-recognized practice within the counseling community. It provides a safe and supportive environment for participants to vocalize their feelings. During group therapy, a mental health professional or therapist works with a small group of adolescents who are all struggling with similar issues. Here are some of the ways group therapy helps individuals:
Bonding with Peers
Many teens feel misunderstood and isolated because they believe that no one else understands what they’re going through. Group therapy is a structured and safe place for kids and teens to experience positive social interactions with their peers. Group therapy exposes participants to others who are dealing with some of the same issues. This can help them feel less alone and like they’re understood and validated. Teens who might be reluctant to share or even defiant in individual sessions with an adult, will often open up and share with peers. These relationships can help teens develop supportive bonds with their peers.
Learn to Express Emotions
Teens face big emotions and often they’re expected to handle them in a more mature way than they’re capable of. Even without the struggles of mental illness and substance abuse, many teens have a difficult time expressing their emotions. This can cause them to feel misunderstood and frustrated. Group therapy gives teens a safe place to explore these complex emotions. When teens realize they’re not alone in their emotions and struggles, they often have the opportunity to develop a more global understanding of their situation, thus shifting them away from a self-focused world view.
Develop Social Skills
Even though teens are facing many of the same struggles as their peers, they can have a difficult time connecting. The social interactions provided within group therapy provide a setting for children and teens to develop missing social skills. The therapist models appropriate behavior, and correct and incorrect responses become learning lessons for everyone.
Builds Self Esteem
Many teens with mental illness or substance abuse lack self-esteem and self-worth. Group therapy allows these teens to interact with each other in a safe setting. By expressing their struggles, victories, feelings and more in a safe environment, they’re able to feel less alone. This bonding helps build self-esteem and can lead to a powerful transformation.
Develop Coping Skills
One of the most important benefits of any therapy program is the ability to build coping skills which are crucial to the recovery process. Peer feedback in a supportive group setting can reinforce the rest of the skills developed through group therapy. These can then be implemented into techniques that they use in their daily lives.
Group therapy brings healing and hope. If you’re interested in more information about our group and individual therapy techniques or offerings, we are happy to talk with you. We can be reached at 907-789-7610 (The Link).