Studies often show that teens benefit greatly from group therapy with their peers. In groups, teens get to share their feelings and thoughts with other teens who are experiencing similar feelings. I have facilitated several groups for teen girls and have found them to be a great addition to individual therapy for my teen clients.
What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy involves one or two therapists working with a small group of clients. Groups can target specific problems like anxiety or substance abuse and some groups focus on improving social skills, or helping clients cope with challenges such as low-self esteem, regulating their emotions or shyness. I currently facilitate 3 groups, 2 for adult women and 1 for adolescent girls
Groups can be time limited, with a predetermined number of sessions or they can be ongoing with no predetermined end date. My group for adolescent girls is ongoing however we do take a break in the summer and pick up in September. In addition to providing support, groups can teach and instill proven strategies for coping with specific problems.
What are the benefits of group therapy?
Joining a group sometimes feels intimidating at first, but group therapy can provide many benefits.
- Universality: Sometimes teens feel their problems are unique to them and this can lead to feeling lonely. Being a part of a group of people who have similar problems helps teens to feel supported, and understood.
- Sharing: Through the use of different activities, teens learn to appropriately articulate feelings they may have difficulty expressing to adults.
- Forming Relationships: Groups provide an environment that allows teens to have positive social interactions with peers that can create supportive bonds.
- Social skills: Groups provide a setting where teens are able to learn through social interactions. The therapist will model active listening, provide constructive feedback, and offer support. Members also provide feedback to other members. Group members will be able to pick up on these behaviors and use them in-group and in their everyday lives.
- Improved self-esteem: Group therapy allows teens to help others. Sometimes teens feel they can’t help others because they have needed support themselves. However, in a group they realize that they have skills and experience that may be helpful to their peers. This will help to enhance their self esteem and feelings of self worth.
- Increased coping skills: Through the use of structured activities, the therapist teaches proven strategies to cope with specific problems. Group members will have the opportunity to practice these skills in a safe environment and receive feedback. Eventually group members will begin incorporating these strategies into their daily lives.
Through group therapy, adolescents can communicate in a way that normalizes their feelings and experiences. They are able to learn about themselves, the impact their behavior has on others, and are able to receive feedback from peers. It is completely developmentally appropriate for teens to prefer feedback from their peers rather than from adults. If your teen is struggling with anxiety, depression, socialization, or has recently experienced loss or change; she may benefit greatly from group therapy.