Let’s Connect: Five Benefits of Group Therapy

Five benefits of group therapy
ALCS is always looking for more opportunities to provide excellent counseling services and resources to support your wellness. We are proud to announce that we will be offering group counseling, starting soon! Candice Reece, MS, LPC-Intern, supervised by Kerry Williamson, MA, LPC-S, LMFT-S, CST, will kick off our group counseling program, and today on the blog she outlines five benefits of this counseling approach. Edit: As of March 2021, Candice is an LPC.
What is group therapy?
“A group is a collection of two or more individuals who meet face to face or virtually in an interactive, interdependent way, with the awareness that each belongs to the group and for the purpose of achieving mutually agreed-on goals” (Gladding, 2016).

A counseling group is a safe and confidential environment that provides a sense of community, normalizes your traumas and challenges, and fosters a greater sense of self-awareness. Group therapy offers an outlet whereby you can listen and observe how others are coping through struggles that are similar to your own. In the same way, others can benefit from listening to your experiences. Connection can draw you out of the cave of isolation towards hope and healing. Group therapy is often more affordable than individual counseling, yet it provides opportunities for healing and connection that can be just as powerful. Here are a few benefits of GROUP therapy that you can expect:

Gain new coping skills

Throughout life, we develop ways to cope with the circumstances we have experienced. These ways of coping oftentimes make life easier or less painful for a time, but at some point we start to feel stuck. Many times, the skills that we have developed do not provide a healthy way of addressing the real underlying issues that lead to negative thoughts and behaviors. Group therapy provides a sounding board to try new ways of thinking, new methods of coping, and new interpersonal skills that can improve our view of ourselves, our relationships, and our quality of life.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
--Romans 12:2 ESV

Receive healing through sharing

You have a story to tell.  Suffering in silence can be debilitating, but you don’t have to stay there! We learn from one another when we share our feelings and stressors, as it opens the door of compassion. Most of us have a strong need to belong, and a group allows for a unique therapeutic platform to exchange stories, share ideas, and receive feedback. This allows confidence and inner strength to grow. Being able to share openly who you are, while being witnessed in an environment of compassion by others who care, may be the most powerful medicine on earth. 
Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love]. --Galatians 6:2 Amplified Bible (AMP) 

One of many

Irvin Yalom identified “therapeutic factors” in group therapy (Yalom, 1995). He names the most powerful therapeutic factor “Universality” (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005). Universality is being aware that others are experiencing the same concerns. At times, we feel alone in our pain, not thinking that anyone could possibly understand what we are going through. Group counseling can be a place where you can remove your social mask, not feel like an outsider looking in, and learn to be yourself in a community that builds a sense of togetherness.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. -Romans 12:15 NIV

Understanding yourself

Who are we? We tend to have barriers blocking our ability to see who we truly are or how our behaviors impact our lives. Connection is powerful, and I believe it is our greatest strength. When we open up our lives to others in a way that creates vulnerability, we can better explore how situations make us feel and stay open to understanding our deepest fears and challenges. In addition, we gain great insight as we observe our own actions and actions of others in group sessions. When we learn to trust other group members and open ourselves up to their feedback, “blind spots” can be revealed as we understand the ways in which others may be experiencing us that we were unaware of. This can give us a further understanding of ourselves and how we relate to others. In the midst of exploring our path to healing, we courageously learn how to accept who we are and in turn find our voice.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” --Ephesians 2:10 NIV

Provides hope

At times we may feel like there is nowhere to go, that no one cares, and/or that no one will understand what we are experiencing.  Hope emerges in a safe and supportive environment. Through time, hope will help you visualize a quality life of healing and restoration, which provides a catalyst for change.
"And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. " --Job 11:17–19 NIV
Since hurts, disappointments, and setbacks often have a relational context, healing and restoration can be accomplished in a setting where relationships are fostered, such as group therapy.  Brené Brown explained connection as this: “The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” Let’s connect, let’s do G R O U P .
Candice Reece, LPC-Intern, Austin TX counselor
Candice Reece has been with ALCS since 2019 and counsels clients from our North Austin location. She works with individuals, couples, groups, and families and has a special interest in multicultural counseling, helping clients adjust to life transitions, and working with couples experiencing difficulty with relational and sexual intimacy and trust recovery. For more information about Candice's practice or to set up an appointment with Candice, call us today!
Brown, C. B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York: Gotham Books.
Gladding, S. (1999). Group work: A counseling specialty (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall
Yalom, I.D. (1995). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy (4th ed.). New York: Basic Books.
Yalom, I.D. & Leszcz, M. (2005). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy (5th ed.). New York: Basic Books.

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