If you’ve talked to someone from the Institute for Girls’ Development for any length of time, you’ve probably heard us talk about group therapy! Perhaps you or your daughter are in a group. Maybe you’ve considered group; perhaps it has been recommended for your child or yourself. Or, it’s possible that you’ve picked up fliers for our various groups at a community or school workshop. Group therapy is among our most-accessed and best-loved services, so as Clinical Director of our Group Therapy Programs, I’d like to take this opportunity to shed some light on what makes group therapy so special.

First, let’s get practical. Therapy can be costly, and in this economic climate, many of us are struggling to make ends meet. It can be a challenge just to pay the rent or mortgage, so affording therapy for your daughter or your family can feel impossible. Group therapy is a low-cost alternative to traditional individual therapy. In fact, most groups charge one-half to one-third the going rate for one-on-one therapy! However, make no mistake: group therapy is not an “inferior version” of individual therapy, where all else is equal and you simply have one-fifth of the time to share! Group therapy has distinct differences — and in some cases, advantages — to one-on-one therapy. Here are just some of its many benefits:

Peer Support

We all feel isolated at various times in our lives. Being part of a meaningful group with others who share genuinely about their own struggles and solutions helps us to recognize that we are not alone. Group can break the grip of loneliness, and remind us that there are others who are willing to walk alongside us. Even if we have supportive circles of community in our lives, it can be so helpful to gather with others who share a specific aspect of life with us, such as a desire to build our social confidence and skill, overcome a troublesome behavior, explore our creativity, parent more effectively, or navigate the transition to adulthood. Hearing from others who are going through the same thing, as well as from a skilled therapist, gives us both personal and professional input.

Real-time Skills Practice!

It’s one thing to learn a new skill from a conceptual perspective; it’s another thing entirely to put it into practice in our daily lives! Group therapy bridges that gap by creating a space to practice new skills in relationship to others–but in a safe environment where we are accepted and coached along the way. Want to learn to stress less? Learn new skills and put them into practice in our upcoming “Doing Our Own Work” group for adults. Does your daughter wish that she “fit in” better at school? She can have fun while learning and practicing social skills in our Social Competency Skills groups. Would your teen benefit from tools to help with the ups and downs of emotions, family relationships, and her social world? She can express herself while building coping skills in our Tools for Teens groups. Learning and practicing skills in group gives us the confidence and know-how to apply them in our daily lives!

Transform Our Patterns

One of the most dynamic, life-changing aspects of group therapy is the opportunity to observe our own patterns in relationship to others, and transform them! For example, your daughter might struggle to be assertive with her friends. Once she has identified this challenge in group therapy, she can try out new, more assertive behavior in the group. As her confidence in speaking directly and assertively to others in the group grows, she is ready to begin to behave differently in her social life! Patterns such as passivity, aggression, withdrawal, “bossy-ness”, exclusivity or avoidance may limit us from experiencing close, healthy, rewarding relationships. Group affords us a safe space to explore new ways of relating.

Therapy groups invite us to receive support, develop skills and improve the way we relate to others within the context of a caring peer community. If you have questions about group therapy, or would like to explore the possibility of group for you or your daughter, contact us at (626) 585-8075 ext. 108.