How can group therapy help students?

6 min read
September 15, 2022

What is group therapy?

You may have heard of group therapy before, but what does it entail?

Group therapy is a type of treatment where a group meets to work on similar problems led by a clinically trained and licensed therapist. Groups can vary in size, from about 5 to 15 people. The goal of group therapy is to treat specific issues and encourage personal growth.

Research has shown that group therapy is an effective treatment for children and teens.

Different groups have different focuses and address specific issues. Some groups focus on a specific diagnosis, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc. The therapist leading the session is a specialist in this area.

Types of group therapy and their goals include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral groups - Help group members make positive behavioral changes and positively shift negative self-perceptions.
  • Skill development groups - Teach social skills to help improve interpersonal relationships and social interactions.
  • Psychoeducational groups - Help teens learn about their diagnosis, understand their behavioral tendencies, and learn how to decrease harmful behaviors.
  • Support groups - Provide emotional support for people struggling with the same issue, increase motivation, and encourage sharing personal experiences.

While not a therapy, support groups are often categorized with group therapy. Support groups can be run by people who act as facilitators who may be unlicensed and not clinically trained, unlike group therapy which is always run by a clinically trained and licensed therapist. Support groups focus on day-to-day coping while group therapies focus on changing behaviors.

How to help a student decide if group therapy is a good resource

Group therapy can be a great resource for students. Navigating adolescence and new environments can be challenging. Students may struggle with isolation, bullying, relationships,  rejection, anger, isolation, identity, and brain health. Group therapy can help in addressing these issues and make it easier for them to manage. It can give students a safe environment for interacting with others.

Group therapy experiences differ based on the type of group therapy, the therapist, and the group members themselves. It’s important to find the right group for your student. When exploring options, it is ok to try it out and decide it’s not the right fit.

Questions to ask when considering group therapy:

  • What type of group therapy is it?
  • Is there a specific topic for the group?
  • What is the size of the group?
  • How often and for how long does the group meet?
  • What are the group’s guidelines and dynamics?
  • What are the therapist’s specializations and therapy style?

Group therapy can help by giving students a space to learn how to interact with each other, understand their own thoughts and emotions better, improve their self-esteem, and help them feel less alone in their struggles.

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