Group counseling is a specific type of therapy that involves a group of individuals meeting together with 1-2 leaders as opposed to a one-on-one session with a client and a therapist. The first recorded group counseling session happened in Boston in 1906, but it didn’t become popularized until after World War II when it was used to treat PTSD in war veterans. Since then, group counseling has expanded to treat many conditions. Groups often meet for 1-2 hours a week. Group counseling is often used to compliment individual counseling and/or medication but is also sometimes used on its own. Groups can be tailored towards a specific circumstance (alcoholism, eating disorders, grief, etc) or can be for more general mental wellness.
Group counseling has many benefits. Group members can often relate to each other and feel less alone in their struggles. Groups also give people a chance to socialize and work on interpersonal skills which they can apply to other relationships. The group is also a safe space for members where they can work on improving their mental health, interactions with others, and give and receive support from other members. Groups can offer accountability for continuing to improve mental health and eliminate disordered behaviors outside of meetings. Group counseling is also cost-effective since a therapist meets with several clients at once and it is covered by most health insurance plans.
Though many individuals are able to benefit from group counseling, it is not the best solution for everyone. Some people aren’t comfortable talking to a group of strangers and may also worry about confidentiality. Members may also become triggered by some of the things that are discussed in the group sessions.
Group counseling can be a great resource whether you’re experiencing addiction, have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, or are just looking for extra support from others with who you may be able to relate to. If you are interested in joining a group, you can talk to your therapist about it or explore the resources listed below.
American Group Psychotherapy Association
Group Therapy Central
An Overview of Group Therapy. (2020). Very Well Mind.
When Should You Consider Group Therapy? The Answer Might Surprise You. (2021).
Hartgrove Behavioral Health System.
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Group Therapy. (2017). Everyday Health.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Group Therapy? (2013). Connolly
Psychotherapy: Understanding group therapy (2019). American Psychological
How to find group therapy near me. Group Therapy Central.