What Is the Difference Between Individual and Group Counseling
Being referred to a group can elicit a mixture of reactions. However, in spite of fear or anxiety, it is true that for many concerns, group therapy is an extremely rich, intense, and powerful road to personal growth.
Many people have the mistaken belief that group therapy is simply a more cost effective way of doing individual therapy. Thus, many people believe that they are receiving "second best treatment" and are being "cheated out" of individual attention from the therapist.
This is simply not true. Research and experience show that group therapy can be in most cases as effective as individual therapy, and in many cases is considered the optimal treatment modality—more effective and/or desirable than individual therapy—for addressing certain concerns (i.e., Social Anxiety, Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders, etc.).
In group therapy you have access to two trained therapists and up to eight other "therapists" (other group members) who provide feedback.
Benefits of Being in a Group
Group Can Provide a Much Needed Sense of Not Being Alone in One's Struggles.
Many believe that everyone else's life is perfect, or that everyone "has it all together." In a group, you get to see that although others may look "perfect" on the outside, inside they are dealing with similar problems and insecurities.
Group provides a safe "laboratory" to work on problems.
Typically, the very same interpersonal problems that bring you to the group will be demonstrated in the group. For example, let's say you feel socially awkward. In the group, you will also feel awkward. The difference is that in the group, other group members who care about you will give you feedback about how you come across to them. You will get different perspectives and suggestions on what to do from people. You could then actually experiment by trying these new suggestions in the group and get feedback on how you are changing.
A common question is: "How can other people who are trying to work on the same problem help me? They don't know the answers either!" Actually, it is not necessary for other group members to "know the answers," only that they be willing to support you in your journey. What tends to help is (a) for you to know that others know you are struggling, (b) for them to care enough to be honest with you to tell you what they see you doing that keeps you stuck, and (c) for them to help you find your own answers while supporting you in your decision and chosen path of:
- Feeling good about helping others.
- Learning about how others see you.
- Learning new skills and gaining hope from seeing that others have had similar problems, and have survived and even thrived.
Groups Are Confidential: What Is Said in Group Stays in Group.
While we cannot guarantee the behavior of other student group members, our therapists take confidentiality very seriously and expect all members to take it seriously also. The importance and rules around confidentiality are typically discussed in the first group and we encourage everyone to voice their concerns, particularly since Miami University is a small campus and Oxford is a small town.
Introduction to Group Therapy
This video was developed by Darius D Campinha-Bacote as his dissertation project at the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University