PTSD and Group Therapy
The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs describes group therapy this way:
In group therapy, you talk with a group of people who also have been through a trauma and who have PTSD. Sharing your story with others may help you feel more comfortable talking about your trauma. This can help you cope with your symptoms, memories, and other parts of your life.
Group therapy helps you build relationships with others who understand what you’ve been through. You learn to deal with emotions such as shame, guilt, anger, rage, and fear. Sharing with the group also can help you build self-confidence and trust. You’ll learn to focus on your present life, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the past.
Run by a mental health practitioner (whose goal is to guide the group in self-discovery and evoltuion) group therapy is either structured around a time frame or a topic; a group agrees to meet for a set number of sessions, or meets indefinitely about a controlled topic. Most groups contain up to 12 members.
Time limited groups have a distinct beginning, middle and end and are usually closed. Meaning, once the group begins others cannot join. They usually meet for 8 – 20 sessions and is geard toward the accomplishment of a goal set at the beginning. Group members are homogenous in that they all share some similar background traits, diagnoses and are working toward the same end. These groups tend to be skills management and development oriented.
Topic focused groups are more heterogenous; members come from varying backgrounds and bring varying psychological issues to the group forum. These groups are more open-ended in their approach to the time frame of achieving goals. These groups tend to be single-issues groups, ie. PTSD, depression, anxiety disorders, etc. Since these groups are unending people leave and enter the group at any time.
Benefits of group therapy include:
- connection with community
- exchange of personal experience
- learn you are not alone
- experiment with relating to different people in a safe environment
- experience other worldviews
- learn to openly and honestly discuss issues
- gain identity and social acceptance from the group
- some people are more comfortable being outside of the one-on-one environment of traditional therapy
- gain insights to problems by observing how others have handled them
- feedback from a variety of sources
- development of self-esteem by helping others solve their problems
Self-help groups (i.e. Alcholics Anonymous, etc.) are group oriented but are not run by trained mental health professionals. While they maintain the benefits of social support, identity development and belonging they do not address issues through any restorative psychological guidance.
For more information about how to find the right support group, PTSD Healing: Finding the Right Support Group.
To read more about the value of group therapy, Fueling PTSD Recovery.
(Photos: IAmSchroedingersCat, AHauptman, arkworld)
- PTSD Treatment: Alternative Therapy Options
- PTSD Treatment: Traditional Therapy Options
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- PTSD and Cognitive Behavior Therapy
- PTSD and EMDR Therapy
- PTSD and Exposure Therapy
- PTSD and Energy Processing Therapy
- PTSD and Hypnosis
- PTSD and Neuro-Linguistic Programming
- PTSD and Self-Empowered Therapy
- PTSD and Group Therapy
- Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises