What Is Group Therapy and How Does It Benefit Young Adults?
What Is Group Therapy and How Does it Benefit Young Adults?
Group therapy is a powerful, evidence-based modality that helps young people understand that they are not alone. By addressing issues like trauma and depression in a group setting, young adults overcome the sense of isolation that often accompanies mental health conditions. Group therapy sessions offer a supportive and compassionate forum in which young adults can start letting down their walls and sharing their stories with others.
When to Seek Help
Emerging adulthood is often a turbulent stage of life, as young people forge their identity and build relationships outside their immediate family. It’s natural to feel some stress or anxiety at times as you navigate the challenges that come with establishing your place in the world.
However, if you or a loved one is experiencing ongoing hopelessness, sadness, suicidal thoughts, and/or an inability to function at work or in school, it’s essential to seek professional help immediately. At Newport Institute, we guide young adults to reveal and heal the underlying causes of mental health issues through a combination of proven therapeutic modalities, including group
What is Group Therapy?
The two words together (group and therapy) certainly sound self-explanatory—but what is group therapy exactly and how does it work? Joseph Hersey Pratt, known as father of group therapy, pioneered the use of this modality in the early 20th century. Pratt brought tuberculosis patients patients together to discuss their common problems, and observed the positive emotional effects they experienced.
Over the ensuing decades, group therapy techniques were used with other specific populations, including prison inmates, children, people with alcohol use disorder, and military veterans. Today, group therapy is used to treat trauma and many other mental health and co-occurring disorders.
Unlike support groups, group therapy activities are always facilitated by a mental health professional, and can take place in a residential or outpatient setting. They are typically limited to a small number of participants, who agree to maintain confidentiality. Hence, what’s shared in group therapy sessions isn’t talked about outside the group. One of the most important group therapy benefits is the trust that is created among participants.
Types of Group Therapy
There are a number of different types of group therapy, depending on the mental health conditions being addressed, the age of participants, and the goals of the group. Group therapy models can focus on education, prevention, recreation, developmental, and/or therapeutic goals. The most common group therapy models are psychoeducational, in which the therapist offers information to help participants better understand and cope with their mental health disorder; and process-oriented, in which the therapist facilitates group discussion and sharing among participants.
Within these two categories, a variety of different group therapy techniques may be used, including:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which helps participants shift distorted thinking patterns and replace them with healthier responses and behaviors
- Interpersonal groups, exploring relationships and social interactions
- Skill development, in which help participants learn practical skills for coping with the triggers and symptoms of their mental health conditions.
What to Expect in a Group Therapy Session
Young adult group therapy can focus on a wide range of issues—from substance abuse and compulsive behaviors to loneliness and relationship issues. Sometimes group therapy sessions focus on identifying problematic behaviors or practicing coping or communication skills. Group therapy benefits include the opportunity to openly share your personal experiences, and in turn to offer nonjudgmental attention and caring to others in need of support.
Moreover, this modality promotes what’s known as group cohesion—when a group works in unity toward a shared goal. Group cohesion is often considered an essential factor in successful treatment. Studies have found that “high cohesion” groups reach their goals more quickly, and group members feel more secure about their functioning and their contributions to the group. This skill translates into a young adult’s life after treatment. When they have difficulty with groups in academic or workplace settings, they can use their group cohesion skills to find a way to work with others and treat everyone with respect.
What Is Group Therapy Like at Newport Institute?
Depending on the group and setting, group therapy sessions might start with each participant introducing themselves and sharing a bit of their story. Young adults might also share the challenges they have faced or the goals they have reached since the last time the group met. Group therapy techniques may include role-playing difficult or triggering conversations with someone else in the group, guided by the group therapist.
Group Therapy Benefits
Some of the most significant group therapy benefits for emerging adults include:
- Combating isolation: Young adults with mental health conditions often feel shame and cut themselves off from peers because they don’t believe anyone else can understand what they’re going through. Group therapy shows them that others are facing the same issues and emotions, and they are not alone.
- Learning and practicing skills: Participants gain healthy coping tools and have the opportunity to practice self-regulation, communication, and listening skills within the group therapy environment.
- Being a supportive role model: Young adults develop greater self-worth as they begin to see themselves as capable of encouraging and providing meaningful support to others.
- Building trusting relationships: In group therapy sessions, young adults learn how to forge healthy, authentic connections with peers.
- Gaining hope for the future: Witnessing how other group participants have faced similar struggles and are now on the healing path gives young people a sense of hope and the feeling that they, too, can overcome their challenges.
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Care at Newport Institute
At Newport Institute, group therapy is one of a variety of evidence-based clinical modalities that young adults experience throughout their time in treatment. Whether they are in residential or outpatient treatment, both group therapy and individual therapy will be part of their weekly schedule. How often a young adult attends group therapy sessions at Newport Institute depends on their specific needs and their individualized treatment plan. In general, our clients attend several group therapy activities per week.
While some group therapy sessions take place with participants seated in a room with the facilitator, group therapy can also take the form of art or music therapy, Adventure Therapy, and yoga and mindfulness practice. Depending on which types of group therapy they are participating in, young adults work together and with trained therapists to build skills, overcome obstacles, or express themselves creatively alongside their peers.
Contact us today to find out more about clinical model of care and how we support young adults to move toward autonomy and thriving.