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The Art of Group Therapy and Social Work

Posted May 14 2013 3:36am

The Art of Group Therapy and Social Work

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So what is group therapy? Group therapy is a form of therapy that has been used for over 50 years. A small group of people, usually less than 10, meets with a licensed social worker or therapist in an effort to be helped and to give help. While some groups are comprised of people in the same types of situations or dealing with the same types of issues, other groups include members who are trying to get a handle on different issues.

Group therapy is a sort of art form; conducted correctly, groups can be incredibly beneficial. When conducted poorly, members receive virtually no resolution to their issues. When led by a skilled social worker, group therapy helps people in numerous ways. Here are just five:

1.Togetherness

According to WebMD, one of the largest benefits of group therapy is a sense of belonging. When people share stories with one another that lead to discussions, they begin to realize that they aren't alone. With a decreased sense of isolation, people begin to open up and deal with the problems they are coping with. This sense of belonging often brings a sense of relief to the person, helping him or her to better face their issues.2.Relating Skills

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Relating to others can be difficult for some people. Within group therapy, relationships are built and trust is established. A great social worker will establish rules and boundaries before sessions begin, enabling participants to achieve a level of comfort. Because the make-up of a group often mirrors the dynamics of society, people learn how to transfer their new skills to the world outside of the group.

3.Modeling

When people participate in group therapy sessions, they begin to see how others cope with the same problems. This enables participants to mirror one another, often gaining new coping skills and modifications to their own behaviors. These new perspectives can benefit every member of the group, enabling them to understand what may and may not help when dealing with a specific issue.

4.Acceptance of Self

Often, when we are dealing with an issue, our self-esteem takes a hit. We experience feelings of guilt and depression and may even feel as though we have no control over our own lives. Group therapy allows us to understand that there are some things that are out of our control. Speaking with someone of a different background who is dealing with the same issues enables one to understand that they are not to blame. This awareness often brings about a rise in self-acceptance.

5.Less Expense

For many people dealing with a problem, the cost of therapy is a very real issue. It's not unusual for people to forego needed assistance because it is simply unaffordable. Group therapy is often less expensive than individual therapy, as participants are essentially splitting the cost for the therapist's time. For many people, group therapy offers a solution that is financially viable.

Social workers should understand the benefits of group therapy for their clients. When groups are properly formed and meetings are well-conducted, group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy doesn't. From a boost in self-esteem to an understanding of new coping mechanisms, patients benefit tremendously from sharing their lives with others.

Robert Neff is a part-time blogger when not working at the social services office. Get an MSW degree online from Case Western and work in the social services field helping a variety of clients.

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