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Group therapy: definition, benefits and types

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy, also called talk therapy. Psychotherapy is a main component of treating people with mental health issues and emotional challenges. The therapy is delivered by a mental health professional and is based on a relationship of trust between the therapist and the client. Group therapy involves one or more therapists counseling a group of people at the same time.

This article is about group therapy, including how it works, how it helps, and who it is for.

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What is group therapy and how does it work?

Group therapy is psychotherapy delivered by one or more therapists to a group of people at the same time. Groups can be any size but often include five to 15 people. Open groups allow members to join at any time. Closed groups are made up of a specific group of people who all join at the same time.

Group therapy usually takes place weekly and sessions typically last 1-2 hours. A client can attend group therapy only or attend group sessions in addition to individual therapy sessions.

Group therapy usually focuses on a specific topic, behavior, or diagnosis, such as substance abuse, depression, anger management, chronic pain, social anxiety, grief, or low self-esteem. Participants take turns talking about their experiences around that particular topic, while the therapist usually acts as a facilitator during these sessions.

What is group therapy used for?

One of the goals of psychotherapy is to learn more about yourself and how your emotions impact your life and relationships. Group therapy gives you an environment to learn more about yourself while interacting with others who are going through something similar. Having a mental health issue or emotional challenges can be isolating. Group therapy helps you see that you are not alone in your struggle.

Group therapy provides additional support and accountability. If you keep an open mind, you’ll likely learn new coping skills by listening to others’ experiences with your particular challenges.

Techniques used in group therapy

During group therapy, participants often sit in a circle so they can see each other during the session. When a new group is formed, the therapist will explain the purpose of the group, and members will introduce themselves and share information about why they are in the group.

The techniques used in group therapy are different from individual therapy. During an individual therapy session, the therapist will focus on the emotional dynamics of each client. During group therapy, the therapist often acts as a facilitator, encouraging group members to talk to each other about their problems and work together to find solutions.

The goals of group therapy are based on specific therapeutic factors:

  • Instilling Hope: Group therapy allows members to talk with people struggling with similar issues, which can help members feel less overwhelmed and more optimistic about recovery.
  • Universality: Group therapy shows members that they are not alone in their struggles.
  • transmit information: Group members share their personal experiences with each other, allowing members to learn from each other.
  • Altruism: Group therapy helps members focus less on themselves and more on helping those around them.
  • Hotfix Summary: Group therapy offers members a “family”. This can help members resolve issues within their family of origin.
  • Socialization techniques: Group therapy teaches social skills and helps its members feel less isolated.
  • Imitative behaviors: Members can learn new coping skills from the behaviors of other members.
  • Interpersonal learning: Group therapy teaches members about intimacy and relationship building.
  • Group cohesion: Group therapy gives members a sense of acceptance and belonging.
  • Catharsis: Members are encouraged to express their suppressed emotions during group therapy.
  • Existential factors: Group therapy helps members learn to deal with life as it comes and overcome the emotions that arise in different life circumstances.

Who shouldn’t try group therapy?

Group therapy is not for everyone. Very shy people may find it difficult to talk openly about their problems. Group therapy requires confidentiality and trust, which may be another area of ​​concern for some people.

During group therapy, members share the limelight with other people. Some people have mental health issues that require a higher level of attention. Other people can use the group setting to hide their issues. In these situations, individual therapy might be more appropriate.

How to join a group

For group therapy to be successful, it is important that you join the right type of group. Speak to a mental health professional to make sure you make the best decision. If you don’t have a therapist, consider using a database such as the APA Psychologist Locator sponsored by the American Psychological Association.

Be patient, you may not click with the first group you join. Keep trying groups until you find people you trust.


Group therapy is a type of psychotherapy usually focused on a particular topic or problem. Sessions typically take place weekly and consist of five to 15 clients and one or more therapists. During group therapy sessions, the therapist acts as a facilitator, encouraging group members to learn from each other’s experiences. Group therapy can help reduce feelings of isolation and allow people to face their challenges with the support of others.

A word from Verywell

If you are dealing with mental health issues or emotional issues, group therapy might be an effective tool for you. Talk to your therapist to make sure you’re ready for a group and choosing the right type of group for your condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is DBT Therapy?

    Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is a type of psychotherapy that is most commonly used to treat people with borderline personality disorder. DBT often uses a combination of individual therapy and group therapy to address mental health issues.

  • How much does group therapy cost?

    The cost of group therapy varies depending on factors such as geographic location, frequency of treatments, and your personal insurance plan. However, group therapy is often one-third to one-half the cost of individual therapy.

  • How much does therapy cost without insurance?

    The cost of therapy sessions varies depending on location, type of therapy, therapist training, and frequency of your sessions. Individual therapy can range from $100 to $250 per session, on average, while group therapy can cost anywhere from one-third to one-half that amount.