Group psychotherapy is a common method used in the treatment of various mental illnesses. The method has become popular, as it has been proven largely effective in the treatment of several patients at the same time.
However, though group psychotherapy has many advantages, the method is not without disadvantages. In fact, under the wrong circumstances, the method can prove to be detrimental to a patient’s well being. This is why group therapy is not used in all forms of mental illnesses. The method is more popularly used to help in the treatment of the following:
- Addiction or abuse of substances
- Character disorders
- Violence in youth
- Eating disorders
Advantages of Group Therapy
There are many advantages to group therapy. However, the method is only used on patients that have similar problems. A moderator or a counselor always leads a group therapy session. The counselor controls the flow of the conversations and encourages the members to participate by expressing their feelings or experiences in a particular situation.
By encouraging members to become more social in expressing their experiences, the members will naturally form a relationship. At times, trust can be developed, which promotes a sense of belonging among the members. Members are encouraged as they gain the knowledge that other people are also going through similar problems, reminding them that they are not alone. This gives them the will to overcome those issues as they know that other members of the group are also trying to overcome the same ordeals.
Furthermore, it is also financially beneficial as group therapy is relatively cheaper than one-on-one sessions. The cost of the session is divided among the members, thus, they don’t have to spend more than they can afford. Individual sessions with a counselor can be very expensive and knowing this sometimes discourages patients from seeking treatment. In group therapy sessions, members don’t have to come up with large amounts of money just to be treated.
Disadvantages of Group Therapy
Group therapy sessions are commonly unfocused and impersonal. Counselors encourage members of the group to communicate with each other, but only provide guidance on the flow of the conversation and not offer actual treatment of the problem.
Group therapy is also largely ineffective for patients with social phobia. Participating in groups can make these patients withdraw because they focus on their fears and not on the flow of the topic.
Human beings are social by nature, but each one of us has individual and unique personalities, which at times can collide, leaving a more harmful effect than a positive one. When this happens, more than one member of the group is affected and the session can turn out to be a failure. However, counselors are trained to handle these types of situations. With enough skill, the facilitator can diffuse a potentially harmful situation and continue with positive discussions.
Moreover, the patient makes the final decision whether or not to participate in group therapy sessions. They can be encouraged to do so, but without a patient’s dedication to the session, it is unlikely for the group therapy to be productive and effective.