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Group psychotherapy – what is it, types, advantages and therapeutic methods


Group psychotherapy is an alternative to individual psychotherapy. It involves systematic participation in meetings of a group of patients (clients) led by one or two psychotherapists. What is the difference between group therapy and individual therapy, apart from the number of participants during the psychotherapeutic session? The answer is ambiguous – the differences lie both in the selection of the current of group psychotherapy, in the rules of working with a group, in the dynamics of the group process, in the functions of a group psychotherapist, and in the healing factors in the psychotherapeutic group. There is no one specific style of work for group psychotherapists. Group psychotherapy is especially recommended for people whose problems are of a social nature, e.g. a person suffers from social phobia or simply has difficulties in interpersonal communication and communicating with others.

The help of other people cannot be overestimated, especially in difficult life moments. People as social creatures need contact with other people. When a support network is lacking, people become apathetic and deteriorate. People have developed many mental mechanisms to open up to others and help others. Therefore, group work is used as an effective form of treatment.

Types of group psychotherapy

Group psychotherapy is a good form of work in the case of personality disorders – dysfunctions of the patient’s persistent behavior are difficult to overcome, but it can certainly contribute to the reduction of suffering (distress) due to the difficulties in functioning in society and improve the well-being and quality of relationships with other people. Good results are also achieved by group psychotherapy in work with schizophrenics or in the case of other psychoses, when the symptoms of the disease do not appear so much. Then the team becomes a support and reference point for its own pathological reactions.

Psychological therapy in both types of groups requires careful selection of patients and their preparation before starting therapy. People who are extremely different from the rest of the participants, e.g. in age or appearance, should not be introduced to the team. The size of the therapeutic groups should not exceed 12-15 members for the group process to take place freely. The psychotherapist is responsible for determining the conditions under which the treatment will take place and the contract, which contains guidelines as to the number, duration and frequency of therapeutic meetings and the standards applicable in the group. The basic group rules include, inter alia, freedom of expression without subjecting one’s thoughts to internal censorship, calling oneself by name, punctuality or the principle of discretion, i.e. not telling anyone about what you heard from others during meetings.