Do Groups Really Help People?

Group therapy is widely used and has been a standard part of treatment programs for over 40 years. Sometimes it is used as the main or perhaps the only treatment approach. Sometimes it is used as part of a treatment approach that may include individual therapy, medications, and other activities. Group therapy has been shown in research studies to be an effective treatment. Studies that have compared individual and group approaches indicate that both are about equally effective. The difference with groups, of course, is that a group has to form, and the members need to get to know each other a bit before it can be of the greatest benefit. Most people have participated in some types of nontherapy groups, for example in schools, churches, or community activities. Therapy groups will have many of the same features such as a shared sense of purpose and a regular time and place for meetings. The difference is that in a therapy group the leader has a responsibility to ensure that the group stays focused on its treatment goals and that all members participate in this.

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