What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy where a master’s-level counselor leads a group of clients in exploring a topic related to their mental health or wellness. Groups typically meet weekly for 60-90 minutes and have 6-12 participants. Each group will have a central theme or topic, with specific group sessions taking a deeper dive into an aspect of that topic. All groups at Root Center for Advanced Recovery are trauma-informed, and gender-responsive groups are available. Group therapy is an evidence-based intervention for mood and substance use disorders that works to decrease symptoms and increase global functioning. Group counselors at Root Center work to help clients build skills, increase resilience, deepen self-understanding, and foster adaptive communication.
Benefits of group therapy include:
- Connecting with peers who are facing similar concerns
- Opportunities to practice new ways of communicating, responding, and thinking in a safe and non-judgmental environment
- Building a support network beyond the clinical setting
- Having a sounding board for thoughts and ideas
- Increasing social skills
- Learning and practicing new skills
Goals of Group Therapy
The primary goals of group therapy are to:
Being in a group of people who are in different phases of growth allows clients to witness the recovery process firsthand.
RECOGNIZE THE UNIVERSALITY OF DIFFICULTIES
Group therapy helps clients to not feel alone in their struggles. It offers peer role models for recovery and wellness, and allows people to share from a place of experience and personal knowledge.
Group therapy offers a unique opportunity to learn about mental health and substance use disorders in an engaging and thoughtful environment. Knowledge is power—and group therapy is a rich setting for sharing both academic and experiential knowledge about wellness, healing, and progress.
PRACTICE NEW WAYS OF RELATING
Change can be difficult, both for the person making the change and for those around them. Group therapy offers a safe place to begin practicing new ways of thinking, responding, and relating. The real-time rehearsal done in the group setting fosters the confidence and strength clients need to push through resistance and succeed in adopting new behaviors in the outside world.
SAFELY SHARE THOUGHTS, FEELINGS, AND EXPERIENCES
Many individuals have had painful experiences related to revealing their true selves to others. Group therapy offers a safe environment for openness and self-exploration, where all members are welcomed to process difficult emotions, share personal experiences, and be honest about their feelings in ways that are not always possible in everyday life.
What Types of Groups are Available?Root Center offers a wide range of psychotherapy groups to support our clients in different areas of their lives. Group topics include:
- Grief and loss
- Overcoming trauma
- Anxiety and depression
- Cognitive behavioral strategies
- Relapse prevention
- Co-occurring disorders
- Building healthy relationships
- Anger management
- Gender-responsive groups
- LGBTQ groups
What to Expect
Every client starting services at Root Center will participate in a comprehensive clinical assessment with a master’s-level clinician. This initial assessment typically takes 60-90 minutes, and your clinician will gather information about your concerns, discuss your symptoms and family history, and make recommendations for what types of support might be best for you.
Each client works with their clinician to identify goals and develop a plan for treatment. Your counselor will help you explore your strengths, needs, abilities, and preferences (SNAP), and will discuss group therapy options to help you decide what groups might benefit you. Group therapy can be done in conjunction with individual counseling and medication management.
Therapy groups can be as small as three people, but groups will typically have around 6-12 participants. Groups at Root Center usually meet weekly, and participants generally continue participating in the group for eight or more sessions. During sessions, participants usually sit in a circle either around a table or in chairs. Clients take turns sharing, and the process is guided by the group facilitator to ensure a safe and open environment. Groups may be offered in-person or online through telehealth.
Groups at the Root Center have open enrollment, so new members may be joining at any given time, but you will see familiar faces each week as you work through your program. The facilitation style of the group may vary depending on the therapist’s clinical approach and the group topic. Some groups are highly structured, and others have a more free-flowing dialogue between participants. One thing that won’t change is that a master’s-level counselor will always facilitate the group, and you will have a topic that serves as the foundation of each session.
Group members agree to specific rules around safety, confidentiality, and conduct at the start of each group. Maintaining these rules is critical to providing a safe and supportive environment for all participants.
Common group rules include:
- Show respect to everyone
- Maintain confidentiality (what is said in group stays in group)
- Listen while others are speaking and sharing
- Support each other by avoiding criticism and put downs
- Avoid distractions, such as using cell phones or having side conversations
- It is okay to pass if you do not want to share at any given point
- Arrive on time and be consistent in attending sessions
- Accept that each person is at a different stage in his or her journey, and be patient and honor the wisdom and power in everyone
How are Psychotherapy Groups Different from Peer Support Groups?
Some clients may have had the opportunity to attend peer support groups, such as alcoholics anonymous or grief support groups. Many of the basic concepts may be the same; for example, groups may be small and meet weekly to discuss a particular subject area.
But a big difference between peer support groups and group therapy is that group therapy is an evidence-based psychotherapeutic intervention designed to treat mental health and substance use disorders. Therapy groups are run by master’s-level counselors who have specific training in counseling, psychology, and group dynamics. The facilitator abides by strict professional standards and may not have personal relationships with participants outside of the clinical setting. Group therapy is often covered by insurance and included as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, which may also include individual therapy, case management, and medication management. Your group facilitator may also be your individual counselor, or you may meet with a different counselor for group therapy. Group facilitators follow HIPAA guidelines and will not share your personal health information with other participants.
Peer support groups are typically run by non-professional peers who share interest in a particular topic. Support groups may be aimed at stopping alcohol use or supporting each other through grief or anxiety. Peer support groups may be less structured and typically do not follow evidence-based models for care. Peer groups usually offer open enrollment, and while not a replacement for psychotherapeutic interventions, support groups can be a key component of a successful recovery.
Root Center accepts all major health insurance plans, including Medicaid, Anthem, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and Cigna. Because insurance coverage varies by plan, please call today to find out if your specific plan covers our services. A self-pay rate is also available.
Appropriateness for individual counseling can be determined through a clinical assessment at your first appointment with a mental health professional at Root Center.
Thought LeadershipWe’re experts with over 30 years of experience helping individuals fight substance abuse and mental health issues. Learn More