It is usually a complement to individual therapy and sometimes medication as well, although it may be used as a stand-alone treatment for certain issues or problems. According to one of the most renowned group therapists, there are 11 key principles of group therapy:
- Instilling hope.
Since group therapy often includes clients at different stages in their treatment, some of the newer clients can find encouragement from seeing the positive impacts on clients further along in their treatment.
Just being part of a group of people who understand what you are going through and have experienced similar problems will help clients see that they are not alone, and that suffering is universal.
- Imparting information.
Group members can be a great resource for information.
Group therapy gives members a chance to practice altruism by helping others in the group, an experience that will likely help them as well.
- The corrective recapitulation of the primary family group.
This wordy principle refers to the process of clients learning and exploring their childhood experiences, personalities, behaviors and feelings, and learning how to identify and avoid destructive or non-helpful behaviors.
- Development of socialization techniques.
The simple experience of working in a group provides excellent opportunities to socialize, practice new behaviors, and experiment in a safe environment.
- Imitative behavior.
Clients can observe and imitate or model positive and helpful behaviors toward others in the group, including the therapist.
- Interpersonal learning.
Interacting with the therapist and other group members and receiving feedback can help a client learn more about themselves.
- Group cohesiveness.
Group therapy sessions can facilitate a shared sense of belonging and acceptance of one another.
This principle is based on the healing powers of sharing with others; talking through your feelings and experiences in a group can help relieve pain, guilt, and stress.
- Existential factors.
Although group therapy offers guidance and support through the group, it also helps clients realize that they are responsible for their own actions and the consequences that follow (Cherry, 2017).
“Some of the most comforting words in the universe are ‘me too.’ That moment when you find out that your struggle is also someone else’s struggle, that you’re not alone, and that others have been down the same road.” – Anonymous
This set of principles makes it clear that there are many advantages to working with a group rather than individually. While some of these principles may apply to individual therapy, most of them require a group setting.