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Group Therapy FAQ, Pros & Cons | Stellar Insight Counseling

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Why You Should Consider Group Therapy (Even if You Aren’t)

When I think about common questions about group therapy from people who are considering group for the first time, questions tend to boil down to what are the potential risks and rewards.

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Risk in group therapy typically refers to vulnerability and reward refers to the benefits of healing with other people as a community.

Individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and couples counseling all offer unique perspectives and rewards to those who are seeking change and willing to be vulnerable.

Group therapy values and highlights the wisdom each group member brings, which adds far more insight and experiences than a typical singular therapist can offer through individual therapy.

By the end of group therapy, many people share feeling surprised by how rewarding group therapy was compared to their original expectations.

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The “magic” of group therapy is difficult to capture; but the major elements which promote change and positive group therapy experiences include:

- Building awareness of your unique traits and lived experiences while realizing you are not alone

- Being in a group with people who share your identity and/ or struggle

- Learning new things about yourself in relation to other people in a safe environment

- Receiving help and support from other group members and being able to help peers by sharing your experiences and knowledge

Group Therapy FAQ

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1. How many people are in group therapy?

Group therapy involves between 6-15 clients and 1-2 therapists (or counselors or psychologists).

In my practice at Stellar Insight Counseling, I like to structure group sessions with 6-10 clients; 8 is ideal.

Each client goes through an initial screening process before joining any group. This allows me to asses if I can offer a space that each person will find beneficial, and ideally support a client in finding their sense of belonging “in” a group.

This is a common process among mental health professionals for starting successful groups.

2. What’s the difference between individual and group therapy?

Individual therapy involves one mental health professional and one client in a session. 

1-on-1 therapy sessions are the standard notion of therapy in the U.S.

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Group therapy involves 6-15 other group members and 1-2 mental health professionals.

Groups typically target a shared issue or goal among group members.  Group therapy may not be appropriate for everyone, but some people may benefit from more group therapy than they think.

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Some people may attend both group and individual therapy every week, others many only attend group therapy every week.

3. Group Therapy Examples

Group therapy is useful for many of the same issues addressed in 1-on-1 therapy sessions:

  • Depression

  • Trauma and/ or PTSD

  • Anxiety

  • Dealing with divorce

  • Grief

  • A specific health issue or diagnosis

  • Women coping with pregnancy loss

  • Men struggling with self-esteem

  • LGBTQ+ mental health 

  • Men dealing with anger

  • Relationship issues and health dating

  • Domestic violence survivor groups

  • Family members of loved ones who misuse substances, and more

4. What is a group therapy topic, and why does it matter?

A group topic typically refers to who the group is for, what the group will do, and how the group will do it.

Finding a group that is specific to the issue you are currently struggling with is vital: that is how you promote healing in connection with other people. 

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The more relatable a group topic is to you and the issue you’re facing, the more likely that group will provide a positive experience.

If you go to a group that focuses on women with anxiety, but you’re a man dealing with grief, you won’t find much use in the anxiety group. And you probably wouldn’t be able to attend that group.

The examples listed in the previous question are useful starting points, though there are MANY more!

5. How to start group therapy

If you are interested in group but don’t know how to start group therapy:

  • Good old-fashioned internet search

  • Popular online therapist directories who enable group therapy search options

  • Reaching out to a local therapist or mental health agency in your community and inquiring what they know about any local groups

There are additional resources about group therapy at the bottom of this page as well

6. What if I prefer individual therapy?

That is okay! Group therapy may not always be appropriate for each person.

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There are instances when a person may be hesitant to attend group therapy yet group would be advantageous; such as a person with social anxiety who is hesitant to attend a group for people who have social anxiety.

Seek an opinion from your therapist (or a group therapist) if you are questioning your appropriateness for group therapy: they will happily let you know, and talk through any questions you have.

7. How do I know if I’ll get along with other group members?

Well... you don’t. 

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Unless you have a crystal ball and can see into the future, you cannot know until you try. 

Counselors strive to structure groups which consist of clients who the therapist believes will be able to get along and/or engage appropriately together; usually by meeting with potential group members prior to the group, and identifying a clear specific group topic.

There is always the chance you may not like someone or someone may not like you, AND, there is also the chance you may get along with group members better than you expected.

If you do not get along with a group member then that becomes part of group therapy. 

It is a skill to handle interpersonal disagreements, and group therapy is a rich place to learn how to have more positive interactions with others. 

Group therapy can provide a personal, unique, and transformative experience to each group member.

8. What if I run into someone I know from group, say at the grocery store?

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This varies depending on the type of group you are in, but you will usually talk about this with the therapist and other group members on the first day of group therapy. 

Some therapists discourage group members speaking outside of group, others may condone it with limits, but it really can be determined by group members on the first day of group therapy.

That being said, confidentiality is in place and there are topics, issues, and details that group members are informed and asked and agree not to discuss outside of group therapy.

Confidentiality is a critical component of successful groups; and will be reviewed by a therapist and other group members at the start of each group (if not every session). 

Though, there always is a risk someone may share something outside of group which should not have been shared.

9. How is group therapy reshaping the ways Western medicine approaches psychotherapy?

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Perhaps this is not a common question that comes up... but I wish to cover it regardless!

1-on-1 or therapist-and-client psychotherapy is typically still the standard perception of psychotherapy.

The American Psychological Association declared group therapy as a valid and efficacious form of treatment in the 1980’s (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005).

Healing in relation with people in your community, or people who know what you’re going through, is radically different than the type of healing that occurs in 1-on-1 therapy. 

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Mental health professionals are typically limited how much they can share about their personal lives and experiences with clients; but group members in therapy are not limited in the same ways.

In a way, group therapy de-prioritizes the therapist and instead places more value into what each group member brings: their knowledge, experiences, insight, interpersonal skills, and more. 

The therapist is still present, engaged, and involved, though more as a guide and facilitator.

A white man in the 1800’s could hardly grasp the concept, right?

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The benefits of speaking less come with learning more from other people and knowing when you speak, you may be helping someone else. 

The unique process of giving and receiving through group therapy is *chef’s kiss*

10. How much time and money do I have for any type of therapy?

Group therapy is arguably one of the most affordable forms of therapy. 

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While it may not be the best fit for everyone, it is evidence-based, efficacious, and transformative (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005). 

Group therapy is typically 2-3 times cheaper than individual therapy, though people tend get more from group therapy than individual therapy.

At the risk of selling myself short as an individual therapist, I have seen one group therapy session accomplish what may have taken several individual therapy sessions worth of work.

Group therapy may have sooner availability than individual therapy; which means less waiting for help. 

Groups may also meet more frequently than individual therapy. 

Individual therapy usually is one hour-long session a week, whereas groups can range from one to three hours once or twice weekly (possibly more, depending on the type of group and inpatient or outpatient settings).

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What are the pros and cons of group therapy?

Group therapy connects group members with peers who are facing a similar struggle or issue and connects participants with a therapist / mental health professional at a more affordable rate.

The potential rewards from group therapy:

· Faster progress and more affordable than individual therapy
· Meets more frequently than individual therapy
· Builds a sense of community and provides the option for collective healing
· Learning how to have healthy interactions with people you don’t get along with
· Being able to share your knowledge and experiences to help other people

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Potential cons from group therapy:

· Being vulnerable with strangers can be unsettling
· Group therapy not be appropriate for your current struggle
· Not getting along or liking another group member
· Time: Length of group may be longer or shorter than you prefer
· Less time with the therapist

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Additional group therapy resources:

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Stellar Insight Counseling Parent/Caregiver Group Therapy for parents/caregivers of a teen who experienced trauma. LGBTQ friendly. telehealth


Yalom, I. D., & Leszcz, M. (Collaborator). (2005). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy (5th ed.). Basic Books/Hachette Book Group.