Why Group Therapy?

I don't currently run any therapy groups, but I often talk with my clients about creating a holistic mental health experience in order to heal and grow. Group therapy is often a valuable addition to individual therapy because it provides an opportunity to connect with other people who share your pain.

The idea of group therapy may seem daunting. Why would you want to expose your vulnerabilities to a bunch of strangers? Shouldn't individual therapy be enough? Who even are these people?

Group members are typically looking for a new kind of experience, a new way of relating to other people, or an opportunity to learn valuable skills. They may be coming in with different concerns and histories, but ultimately they are looking for connection and a chance to grow.

I have been running groups for years now and have been amazed time and time again by just how meaningful a group can become for its members. The first few sessions can feel awkward as you adjust to this new type of interaction; however, the power of hearing the sincere words "I understand" cannot be overstated.

Individual therapy offers the benefit of sitting with an expert and having an experience that is specific to you and your needs. Group therapy, on the other hand, is about the group. Strangers come together and become a powerful support system. As each member takes the risk of opening up a little bit more, they strengthen the unit. Over time, the group becomes a place to talk about what previously seemed unmentionable.

Opening up in group starts to make it more possible to open up outside of group as well. It offers a safe space to experiment with different ways of being with people. It is about feeling on a deeper level that there are other options for relationships.

I typically recommend group members be in individual therapy as well because it is important to continue to explore what comes up for you once you leave session. Perhaps a memory, an idea, or an interpersonal dynamic arises that you do not quite feel ready to share in group. Individual therapy provides you with that additional space to process and work through it.

LA is a big city with many different types of groups. A colleague offers an existential depression group. The Los Angeles LGBT center has some wonderful groups for people who identify as LGBTQ+, including a group specifically to manage the challenges of coming out. A DBT skills group can teach concrete skills that help build a life worth living. Then there are AA and Al-Anon meetings for people struggling with addiction and loved ones looking for some additional understanding and support. There is a group for just about every need you can imagine.