Group therapy can be a powerful way to implement change. The aim of group psychotherapy is to help with solving the emotional difficulties and to encourage the personal development of the participants in the group. Group psychotherapy is suitable for a large variety of problems and difficulties, beginning with people who would like to develop their interpersonal skills and ending with people with emotional problems like anxiety, depression, etc. The group is especially effective for people with interpersonal difficulties and problems in relations whether it be social, working or even sexual in orientation. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to run various groups. This experience has provided a working knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of group therapy.

There are numerous group therapies presently offered throughout any area and many more that continually pop up. Support groups are advertised on almost every topic. How does one know what to choose? The key to successful a group therapy experience is finding a quality group which is often challenging for the average person seeking help.

Here are some pointers that should help a person looking for a beneficial and meaningful group experience possible. First, the foundation of any therapy group should consist of a qualified leader. Ideally, the leader should be a licensed professional with a degree in psychology. Anything short of this level of professionalism can compromise group integrity and quality. For example, a trained professional is equipped to address a wide array of issues regardless of complexity. Subject matter or participant’s reactions are generally better understood, interpreted and communicated by a leader with these skills. It takes a skilled professional to keep a group focused and on task in an orderly manner. A leader with this background is capable of restoring order if chaos should erupt.

Second, the size of the group does matter. A group can consist of as few as two or as many as twenty or more people. Too few or too many can hamper a group’s ability to function at an optimal level. Typically, 8 to 12 people will offer enough variety, breadth and depth to any group discussion. However, it is likely better to join a smaller group versus larger one. In larger groups it is impossible to create a therapeutic atmosphere and have enough time for each member to work personally.

Time, commitment, cost and frequency of attending groups are other factors to consider but should not deter. A group generally takes a few months or longer of ongoing attendance for members to reap the benefits. The greater the frequency (weekly versus bi weekly or monthly), the faster the gains. Same with time invested, as a 90 minute group will be more productive than a 60 minute group. Cost typically frequently varies with the number of participants. As a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for so this is not where you want to bargain shop.

If you need Orange County Group Therapy please call Dr. Heidi Berman, PhD at (949) 716-5150, ext. 1