Being part of a group can bring lots of emotions - some people respond with excitement, optimism at the idea of a support network, comfort in the idea of shared experiences and stories; for others, the idea of a group can be terrifying - having to open up to strangers, having to trust others with your vulnerabilities.
So why take the chance?
Why should I choose a group setting to work on my issues? None of the statements listed below are guaranteed, but they are general guidelines taken from group process research and evidence.
Moving Further Faster
The special interactions that happen within a group setting often allow clients to progress toward goals and move through obstacles more quickly and efficiently than in individual counseling settings. This is not true for every challenge, but there are many issues where group work is considered more effective than individual counseling. The experiences and circumstances of each client in the group, combined with a skilled group leader (or sometimes two leaders), creates an environment that can allow clients to make progress toward goals and objectives in a more effective and efficient way than individual counseling.
A group is made up of humans - different people with different life paths and experiences. While some groups may be focused on a particular topic or area for growth, each person's experiences and circumstances around that topic can be very different. A group provides a variety of insights and perspectives, personalities, communication styles, and experiences; this combination of differences gives a setting where clients can challenge and support each other in varying ways as the group pulls together to help every client reach his/her goals.
Have you ever felt like no one could possibly understand what you are dealing with? LIke you are the only one in the world who has your challenges? Groups are often built around people who share similar challenges, treatment goals, and obstacles. This provides a group of people who can relate, who do understand what you are dealing with. This also places you in a group of people who have been dealing with these challenges in their own ways throughout their lives, and can offer different insights, tools, and techniques that may be helpful.
So, we all like to pretend that we are willing to do whatever is needed to take care of ourselves; but, the reality is that sometimes the cost of individual counseling/therapy can be a challenge. Being part of a group is often more financially feasible than individual counseling. (If you have insurance, this will depend on your specific plan.) Also, because groups can often be more effective than individual counseling, you may make more progress toward your goals and objectives in a shorter period of time, which will cost less money overall.
Other things you should know about groups
Groups are not the most effective treatment for every mental health issue. It is also important that the dynamics of the individuals involved in the group fit together in a way that can be productive. It is possible that you will be interested in a group, and the counselor/therapist will meet with you and suggest an alternate form of treatment than groups. This doesn't mean that you are too broken for groups (or any other degrading message you may tell yourself); it means that the specific group you are interested in is not the best path to reach your treatment goals.