Individual psychotherapy mainly consists of verbal and non-verbal interventions by the therapist. Their goal, of course, is to reduce mental suffering and encourage a person’s development. What about group therapy? Does the psychotherapist use the same type of interventions? Can group therapy be as effective as individual work? The next article tries to answer these very questions.
MENTAL DEVELOPMENT AND INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS
Group therapy differs from individual therapy in one most important element. In the case of group work, changes are made not only by interventions between the therapist and patients, but also by direct interventions between the group participants themselves. The tool of change is therefore the group itself. It is this element that gives group therapy a unique, therapeutic potential that cannot be found in individual work.
GROUP THERAPY – WHAT IS IT ABOUT AND WHY IS IT EFFECTIVE?
How does this whole theory relate to group therapy? What is group therapy? After all, in individual work, the therapist can also talk to the patient about his close relationships? It is true, but a group of several people creates an interpersonal area of much greater strength. During group therapy, participants have the opportunity to enter into a variety of relationships. They make contact with the leader of the group, with the rest of the participants, some of whom are of the same sex and others of the opposite sex, with people from different backgrounds.
Therefore, they are forced, precisely in the course of group work, to deal with many feelings and difficulties. Fear or shyness may appear towards some people, and jealousy or aggression towards others. Some may develop a desire to get closer to them, and others may be difficult to accept or even tolerate. All this is observed by the psychotherapist, who tries to give meaning to what is happening in the group and provide feedback to the participants. Group therapy understood in this way has a potential that can never exist in individual psychotherapy.
EFFECTIVENESS OF GROUP THERAPY IN RESEARCH
Another very important question arises – is group therapy as effective as individual meetings with a psychotherapist? Irvin Yalom cites in his book “Group Psychotherapy” an analysis of 32 studies that compared individual and group therapy. As many as 24 studies failed to find significant differences between the effects of these two forms of therapy. However, what is most interesting, the remaining eight studies show that group work turned out to be more effective than individual psychotherapy.
As highlighted by the other studies mentioned by Yalom, group therapy has been shown to be very helpful in dealing with a wide range of mental disorders and problems. I effectively deal with problems in interpersonal relationships, sociopathies, substance abuse, and even chronic mental illness.