What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists working with several people at the same time. Group therapy is sometimes used alone, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy. The group typically meets once or twice each week for an hour or two. Group sessions may either be open or closed. In open sessions, new participants are welcome to join at any time. In a closed group, only a core group of members are invited to participate.
How Does Group Therapy Work?
So what does a typical group therapy session look like? In many cases, the group will meet in a room where the chairs are arranged in a large circle so that each member can see every other person in the group. A session may begin with members of the group introducing themselves and sharing why they are in group therapy. Members might also share their experiences and progress since the last meeting.
The specific manner in which the session is conducted depends largely on the goals of the group and the style of the therapist. Some therapists might encourage a more free-form style of dialogue, where each member participates as he or she sees fit. Other therapists instead have a specific plan for each session that might include having clients practice new skills with other members of the group.
Reasons to Use Group Therapy
- Group therapy allows people to receive the support and encouragement of the other members of the group. People participating in the group are able to see that there are others going through the same thing, which can help them feel less alone.
- Group members can serve as role models to other members of the group. By seeing someone who is successfully coping with a problem, other members of the group can see that there is hope and recovery is possible. As each person progresses, they can in turn serve as a role model and support figure for others. This can help foster feelings of success and accomplishment.
- Group therapy is cost effective. Instead of focusing on just one client at a time, the therapist can devote his or her time to a larger group of people.
- Group therapy offers a safe haven. The setting allows people to practice behaviors and actions within the safety and security of the group.
- By working in a group, the therapist can see first-hand how each person responds to other people and behaves in social situations. Using this information, the therapist can provide valuable feedback to each client.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Training Group
Day & Time: Wednesday 6:00 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
Location: Intown Counseling & Wellness | 1075 Zonolite Rd., Suite 1A
Led by: Scott Leenan, M.S., LPC, CRC (Intensively DBT Trained)
Contact: (404) 478-9890 | firstname.lastname@example.org
DBT skills training group is focused on enhancing one’s capabilities by teaching behavioral skills. The group is run like a class with opportunities to process. Groups meet on a weekly basis for approximately 1.5 hours.
DBT includes four sets of behavioral skills:
Mindfulness: the practice of being fully aware and present in this one moment
Distress Tolerance: how to tolerate pain in difficult situations, not change it
Interpersonal Effectiveness: how to ask for what you want and say no while maintaining self-respect and relationships with others
Emotion Regulation: how to change emotions that you want to change
What does “dialectical” mean?
The term “dialectical” means a synthesis or integration of opposites. The primary dialectic within DBT is between the seemingly opposite strategies of acceptance and change. For example, DBT therapists accept clients as they are while also acknowledging that they need to change in order to reach their goals. In addition, all of the skills and strategies taught in DBT are balanced in terms of acceptance and change. For example, the four skills modules include two sets of acceptance-oriented skills (mindfulness and distress tolerance) and two sets of change-oriented skills (emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness).
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness skills have emerged as an important focus of several empirically supported treatments. The roots of mindfulness practice are in the contemplative practices common to both eastern and western spiritual disciplines and to the emerging scientific knowledge about the benefits of “allowing” experiences rather than suppressing or avoiding them.
Mindfulness in its totality has to do with the quality of awareness that a person brings to everyday living; learning to control your mind, rather than letting your mind control you. Mindfulness as a practice directs your attention to only one thing, and that one thing is the moment you are living in. When you recognize the moment, what it looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like – you are being mindful. Further, mindfulness is the process of observing, describing, and participating in reality in a non-judgmental manner, in the moment and with effectiveness. At the same time, mindfulness is the window to acceptance, freedom, and wisdom.
Philosophy and Principles of DBT
DBT is based on three philosophical positions. Behavioral science underpins the DBT bio-social model of the development of BPD, as well as the DBT behavioral change strategies and protocols. Zen and contemplative practices underpin DBT mindfulness skills and acceptance practices for both therapists and clients. DBT was the first psychotherapy to incorporate mindfulness as a core component, and the Mindfulness skills in DBT are a behavioral translation of Zen practice. Dialectics furthermore keeps the entire treatment focused on a synthesis of opposites, primarily on acceptance and change, but also on the whole as well as the parts, and maintains an emphasis on flexibility, movement, speed, and flow in the treatment.