By: Ellie Kraus
Upon entering the group therapy setting it is a common reaction to feel skepticism towards the effectiveness of such a practice. Over the course of my internship at Rangeview Counseling Center I have had the opportunity to observe the benefits of group therapy and the evolution of the group dynamic.
From the beginning mandated therapy is often approached with doubt and a “let’s get this over with mentality.” Additionally it has been found that, “during the initial group meetings the members are polite and ty to impress each other and the therapist [thus avoiding meaningful conversation and focusing on surface level conversation]” (Johnson, J. R., 1963). Despite this common theme, I have been able to observe the benefits and subsequent belief system that is produced by entering the group therapy setting. Group therapy creates a space for individuals to share in their experiences and for their experiences to be validated in the expressions of their peers. Additionally, when the group dynamic is established with a mutual sense of vulnerability it allows group members to feel supported and safe to share thoughts, feelings and experiences that they may not feel comfortable doing outside of the group setting.
Another important benefit of group therapy is the opportunity it creates for individuals further along in the process to motivate and support fellow group members in overcoming certain fears and/or behaviors. This dynamic can help a group member feel less isolated in their experience and subsequently motivate them to create change in their lives.
Additionally, when the cohesiveness of a group is established over a certain period of time it can enhance an individual’s social skills and feelings of connections within their group. While at Rangeview I have observed the interconnectedness that takes place when a group has met enough times to establish a dynamic and form an identity. Group members function from a strengths-based perspective by support their group mates and encouraging them to evoke meaningful change within their lives.
In all, Rangeview Counseling Center is a supportive space and strives to meet it’s clients wherever they are in their process. Group therapy can be an extremely effective intervention in providing clients with the appropriate resources and support.