Group therapy’s beginnings originated in 1905 when a doctor in Boston held a formal therapeutic group for 15 tuberculosis patients, educating them about their condition and providing a place for them to discuss the problems that only other TB patients could fully understand. The results were positive, and group therapy became a standard mode of treatment during and after World War II when scores of soldiers were returning home with deep emotional wounds and substance use disorders.
As it turns out, group therapy is now one of the most influential models of treatment for a wide range of conditions, including substance abuse and mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the American Psychological Association. Engaging in group therapy can be a life-saving endeavor.
Therapeutic Factors: The Benefits of Group Therapy
Psychiatrist Dr. Irvin D. Yalom identified 11 therapeutic factors of group therapy that facilitate real and meaningful change, according to the National Institutes of Health. Some include:
- The instillation of hope for recovery
- The relief that comes with knowing that you are not alone
- Imparting valuable information about a condition
- Higher self-esteem that comes with helping others
- The comfort of expressing painful emotions and recounting difficult experiences
- Belonging to a group in which all members have value and are heard, understood, and accepted
How Group Therapy Works: The Role of the Therapist
Group therapy is led by a licensed therapist who acts as a teacher and guide. The therapist creates a safe environment for sharing, teaches relevant skills, guides the discussion to keep it productive, and provides materials that enable group members to practice what they learn during each session. The therapist assesses and diagnoses each member and develops short- and long-term treatment plans.
During group therapy, members themselves frequently take on the therapist’s role by challenging one another to address unrealistic thinking and offering insight and solutions to problems they may also be experiencing or have already worked through.
A Safe Place to Begin Healing
Group therapy is particularly suited to those who experience higher stress levels than ordinary people and who witness—and often experience—trauma. Few outside of the field can understand the burden these men and women carry or the emotional toll it takes. Group therapy provides the opportunity to connect with others who live the same reality. It offers a safe place to express fear, anger, and other intense emotions. Members share coping strategies and work through substance abuse issues, mental illnesses, and other problems.
Group Therapy Can Help
Many of those with a substance use disorder face unique challenges, including experiencing emotional isolation and suffering from co-occurring mental illnesses like PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Specialized group therapy can help you work through various issues, develop the coping skills and strategies you need for a successful recovery and improve your quality of life.
The therapeutic team at Emerald Coast JourneyPure specializes in treating co-occurring substance abuse and mental health conditions. We also work with those who have had traumatic events in their lives and require individualized treatment programs. We encourage you to contact us and learn more about our program and the admissions process for more information.