The Healing Power of Mental Health Groups
Many people have negative feelings toward mental health groups. Maybe it's intimidating to think about sharing your story with a group of strangers. Maybe you don't see a point in it. You might not know the difference between group therapy, psychoeducational groups, and support groups when one might fit your needs better than another. There happen to be many benefits of a group setting in treating and coping with a variety of mental illnesses.1
In college, my on-campus therapist suggested I attend a social anxiety psychoeducational group. I was nervous about the idea and not even sure if it was right for me, but I thought I would give it a try and learn something. I was glad I did because it was a valuable experience. I met other students who were going through similar challenges with anxiety and some whose anxiety presented in a very different way from mine. I learned a lot about social anxiety and different ways to cope with it in a group of supportive people who understood what I was going through.
Mental Health Groups Are Not All the Same
Mental health groups provide an opportunity to heal through social relationships. There are different kinds of mental health groups that serve different purposes, including group therapy, psychoeducational groups, and support or self-help groups. Each group works toward different goals, but all of them can offer the extra relational element that you can't match in individual therapy.2
Therapy or process groups are the most focused on the group process itself, with a group of individuals coming together to do some deep, personal work with the goal of making changes in their lives.2
Psychoeducation groups are about learning something new about an issue everyone in the group has in common, like the social anxiety group I attended in college.2
Support or self-help groups are a different category altogether because the purpose is to help people cope with a common problem rather than achieve transformative personal change. Support groups bring together people who are going through similar issues in a community of others who understand.1
What Can You Get Out of a Mental Health Group?
- People tend to act the way they would in day-to-day life in their groups. You can get some insight from your group leader or group members into how you relate to others and learn how to improve your relationships.3
- Relating to others can be a powerful force for healing. Connecting with people who are going through something similar can make you feel less alone, give you a sense of belonging, and the support can help you feel more confident and secure to move forward.3
- Groups can provide a sense of hope for the future. A problem you thought you could never overcome seems more manageable when you're surrounded by people working toward the same goal.3
- Being there for other people and having others there for you can be a meaningful and fulfilling experience.3
There are so many benefits of having a therapeutic or supportive group experience. See the links below for more about mental health groups and to decide whether a group might be right for you.
- "Are You Afraid of Group Therapy?"
- "What is a Self-Help Group? Types, Examples, Benefits"
- "Value of Support Groups for Mental Illness"
- LifeStance Health, "Group Therapy vs. Support Group: What's Right for You?" Accessed May 23, 2021.
- Landry, P., "What Is Process Group Therapy?" Modern Therapy, January 2020.
- Happier Human, "7 Long Term Benefits of Group Therapy." Accessed May 23, 2021.
Sabatello, J. (2021, May 24). The Healing Power of Mental Health Groups, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, September 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2021/5/the-healing-power-of-mental-health-groups