Group therapy is a useful way for people who share a common problem to get support and advice from each other.
In group therapy up to eight people meet together with a therapist.
Group therapy uses psychoanalytic psychotherapy. This type of therapy is concerned with how things are here and now. The group looks at how the past is relevant to the present with the guidance of the therapist.
The object is not to prevent pain and trouble in the future, but build up a resistance so that a person becomes more able to cope with the problems and frustrations of life.
Some people prefer to be part of a group or find that it suits them better than individual therapy. It can help you realise you’re not alone in your experiences.
Who it’s for
Group therapy is for adults experiencing psychological distress.
Issues we can help with
Group therapy can help with a wide range of psychological difficulties including:
- relationship difficulties
- post traumatic symptoms
Group therapy is not recommended for psychotic illness, but can be very helpful in relapse prevention and when a psychotic episode has come to an end.
Length of treatment
Group therapy sessions last for 1 hour and 15 minutes. They take place every week.
People only enter group therapy after a detailed individual consultation, which takes place over two to six meetings. During consultation we try to get to know you and get a picture of your difficulties. This is called brief psychotherapy and we offer it to everyone.
The consultation gives you and your therapist an idea of whether talking to someone in this way is going to help you or not. At the end of the consultation your therapist helps you to think about the most appropriate treatment for you.
If you are offered group therapy, you may have to wait for a vacancy in a group to become available. If you do have to wait, your therapist helps you access appropriate support during this time.
Each member’s participation in the group is central to their own and other members’ treatment. The group therapist leads the group and helps members to develop an understanding of each person’s mind and personal situation.
Group therapy works partly because being understood is itself beneficial. It can be a relief. It can put into words something that has not been understood before.
During the group you are exposed to different points of view and have the opportunity to learn from others, to receive feedback and support. Each individual brings with them their history and character, which contributes to any group situation. Understanding this can reduce confusion between how we are both similar and different to other people.
It is difficult to share the therapist with other group members but this is also like problems in life.
While a group may seem a bit intimidating at first, many people find that once they’ve overcome this worry, they really benefit from sharing and meeting with other people.
We expect all discussions in a group to be kept private and confidential. There should be no social contact between members so that the privacy of a group to express difficult things is preserved.
Research shows that group therapy using psychoanalytic psychotherapy is effective in the treatment of both mild and complex mental health problems.
Studies show that psychotherapy in addition to antidepressant medication significantly reduces depressive symptoms, compared to antidepressants alone.
Studies also show that for somatic disorders short term psychoanalytic therapy can be more effective than other therapies. Somatic disorders are physical complaints that initially appear to be medical but after investigation can’t be explained with a medical diagnosis.
Risks and side effects
Talking and thinking about emotional problems can be difficult. For this reason some people can feel worse before they feel better. We work with you to manage strong emotional reactions.
For some people participating in a group session can make them feel angry or makes the feelings of depression worse, or feel that they are being criticised by other group members.
It can be painful to face the past and the truth, but this has its limits and the therapist leading the group respects that. The therapist also has their limits on what they can understand and help with.
Group therapy is not for everyone. There is a range of alternative treatments that your therapist talks to you about during consultation.
Other psychological treatments include:
- individual psychoanalytic psychotherapy
- cognitive behaviour therapy
- cognitive analytic therapy
- dynamic interpersonal therapy
- couples therapy
- family therapy
In some cases patients are helped by medication which can be prescribed by a doctor and on rare occasions by our staff.
Patients may choose not to take up any form of professional help for their issue and manage the problem themself.
Questions or worries
Therapy can bring up difficult issues. We want you to feel able to discuss any questions or worries with your therapist. This is important to progress your therapy.
If you would like to discuss any concerns with someone independent of your therapy please contact our patient advice and liaison service.