Has anyone ever suggested that you might benefit from group therapy? If so, you might have thought, if not said, “Thanks, but I’d rather have a root canal.”
It’s natural to feel nervous about walking into a group of strangers and talking about your problems. However, there are benefits to group therapy that you can’t get anywhere else.
According to John O’Neill, EdD, LCSW, LCDC, CAS, clinical director of Menninger’s Outpatient Services in Bellaire, many individuals with a substance use issue or mental health concern try to pursue recovery on their own. “That rarely works,” he said. “We need relationships with others to help us on our path to recovery.”
Most people feel relieved when they start group therapy, and quickly become comfortable with the other members. This often happens when the group is facilitated by a skilled group therapist who knows how to manage the group’s dynamics.
“Skilled facilitators know how to guide the group through conversations and help make it a safe environment for everyone,” said O’Neill.
Most group therapy participants find it very comforting, even validating, to realize that others have similar problems, issues and experiences. Finding out that you (and your problems) are not as unique or unusual as you may think is a powerful experience and can help in your recovery.
In groups, your peers offer feedback about how you think about and cope with your issues. This helps you recognize and deal with your perceptions and feelings differently. A safe group makes it easy to try out new skills and practice different ways of interacting with others.
You can join one of the groups offered by Menninger’s Outpatient Services at any time: