What advantages does group therapy have over individual therapy?

Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which one or more therapists meets with a small group of clients, as a group. A well trained therapist can support a group of people in a powerful group therapy experience.

Louis R. Ormont, Ph.D, may have been the first practitioner to make a practice exclusively of doing group work in the United States. In his book, The group therapy experience: From theory to practice, he outlined five advantages which group therapy may have over individual therapy:

1. Groups elicit self-destructive behavior

The group therapy situation elicits behaviors that people may not bring into individual therapy. It especially tends to elicit maladaptive behaviors. This creates a rich opportunity for group members to learn and grow.

2. Groups enable the members to see how others respond to them

Group therapy allows members of the group to see how others respond to them in spontaneous, real time. This kind of feedback is rare, and valuable.

3. Groups afford patients diverse views of their behavior

Group provides members the opportunity to gain not one, but multiple views of their behavior. This diversity of perspectives, even overreactions, especially if they also happen outside of group, can provide key understanding.

4. Group treatment affords the opportunity for on-the-spot self-definition

Members of groups get to know themselves better as they engage with others in the group. People ultimately get a closer look at themselves, and may experience significant identity development through group processes.

5. Groups afford the chance to practice new behavior

Group members are able to practice in real time new and more functional behaviors. This can be one of the invaluable aspect of group. The distance from group therapy to real life can be shorter than the distance from individual therapy.