3 Reasons to Join Group Counseling
Oftentimes, it can take a great amount of resolve to decide whether or not to try counseling, but many find themselves stuck when trying to decide which service is their best choice. While one-on-one sessions are widely known, group counseling is another option. Group counseling is a widely available service that many may not have tried. This post introduces the ins and outs of group counseling and why it may be your best fit.
Here are some reasons why you should consider group counseling:
- Great Opportunity to Join a Supportive Community
Although one-on-one sessions are certainly effective and come with their own unique advantages, having the benefits of a supportive community present in a room is an advantage that is unique to group counseling. Being part of a supportive community allows you to form connections with others who have had similar experiences and helps participants realize that they are not alone in their struggles.
Another benefit of group counseling is found in learning about different perspectives and as sessions progress, you and other members cab share individual experiences to enjoy the collective experience of growing together. It is this aspect of community that makes group counseling so effective for many. Research also shows that individuals with panic disorder reported reduced symptoms after experiencing group counseling.
Furthermore, expats living in South Korea who have had difficulties finding communities they felt they could belong to, group counseling could provide a great platform for you to form connections with those who can relate more closely to your multicultural experience in a language you are more comfortable with. Not only will you find help in resolving your mental struggles, but you will also be able to have the experience of being within a close community. What you are going through is probably not as unusual or strange as you may think (or was led to believe)!
What makes group counseling special is that you not only receive care from a therapist, but interactions with other members can also bring about positive change.
- Great Environment to Practice Interpersonal and Communication Skills
Group counseling sessions provide a safe, confidential space in which you can practice interpersonal and communication skills that you may have learned in individual therapy sessions. For instance, individuals who suffer from social anxiety may find group counseling to be a safe environment in which they can engage in a form of exposure counseling. As it may be daunting for some to put into practice certain interpersonal skills, the intimate and supportive nature of group sessions can be helpful practice.
Communicating with group members allows you to learn to be more vulnerable and to work on relating to yourself and others in healthy ways. Similarly, this allows for the destigmatization of mental struggles that some experience. Moreover, these sessions offer additional opportunities in which new skills may be acquired and built.
- Great Alternative to Personal Counseling
As one’s mental health needs shift over time, it’s useful to have various treatment options. Group counseling can act as both an alternative and/or a supplement to personal counseling. As an alternative, group counseling can often be the more affordable (though still effective) option. For those who find it difficult to afford personal sessions over an extended period of time, utilizing group counseling services is a great option. Additionally, group counseling can be a great supplement to one-on-one sessions by creating a space where you can apply strategies learned during private sessions.
What to Expect:
If you believe group counseling can be a great option for you, here is an overview of what you can expect. Oftentimes, groups will have specific health concerns that they focus on, including anxiety, depression, addiction, anger management, cultural adjustment, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), gender identity/sexuality, parenting skills/support, and social skills. It is useful to identify which area you wish to focus on and join a group that targets that area for a better experience.
Each group typically has 5-8 members (some even larger) that meet together periodically. You should expect each session to range from an hour to two per session. Depending on the program, group counseling sessions can span from a few weeks to a few months, with weekly (or more frequent) meetings.
What to Consider When Joining Group Counseling:
What are some of the things you should think about before joining a group? Some important aspects you may consider include:
Is the group open or closed? Open mean that new members are welcome to join at any time, so you may have to adjust how you get to know other group members. However, there will most likely be more groups available for you to join. Conversely, closed means that all the members begin at the same time, so all subsequent group sessions will consist of the same people. Unlike open groups, however, you may have to wait to join until a suitable one becomes available.
Other things to consider includes how many people are in the group. Smaller ones allow for more time to be spent focusing on each member, while larger groups offer more diversity and different perspectives. It is also useful to think about how alike group members are; group counseling is usually most effective when its members have similar experiences and difficulties.
Finally, you may want to ask yourself “how much should I share?” While confidentiality is a given when it comes to group counseling, it is wise to not divulge too much personal information in the group. Still, it is important to remember that groups work best with open communication; you will not only be sharing your story, but also the opportunity to hear the stories of other members.
Of the various mental health services available, group counseling is a great option. If you are looking to find a supportive and inclusive community, people to share common experiences with, or simply a different experience from personal counseling sessions, group counseling is a great choice!