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Group therapy: what are its assumptions and to whom can it be recommended?

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Psychiatrists often emphasize that psychiatric treatment is not only pharmacotherapy, but also various psychotherapeutic effects. The latter include various methods, both individual psychotherapy (with many different techniques), and therapy carried out in a much larger group of people. We are talking about group therapy, which some patients fear, and which can really positively influence their mental state. So when can a patient be recommended a group therapy and what are its assumptions?

The beginnings of group psychotherapy date back to the first half of the 20th century. It was then that the initial concepts of this therapeutic method appeared, so that today – less than 100 years later – group therapy was one of the most frequently used methods of treatment in psychiatry. Group psychotherapy is conducted today both in closed conditions, in various psychiatric hospitals, and the meetings of the therapeutic community take place on an outpatient basis, where its members simply appear at meetings on agreed dates.

Group psychotherapy: therapy assumptions

In general, it is often said that humans are herd creatures, and this is basically the basic premise of group therapy – by being in a group of people, it is possible to get support from them and observe the reactions and behavior of other people. More specifically, the main assumptions of group psychotherapy include:

  • universality: participants of group therapy may finally notice that other people are also struggling with the problems that affect them – thanks to this, they may decrease, e.g. sense of social isolation,
  • altruism: group members can help each other – the awareness that it is possible to help another person can be extremely beneficial for self-esteem,
  • learning from others: listening to the stories of group members means that the knowledge about mental problems, their course and treatment is expanded, as well as the knowledge of where to seek help in the event of their occurrence,
  • the possibility of analyzing problems taking place in the family environment of a group participant: it is not uncommon for a patient participating in group therapy, due to the phenomenon known as transference, to identify whether it is the therapist or other members of the
  • therapy with their family members – thanks to this phenomenon it is possible later to analyze where some problems come from in the ordinary environment of the person participating in the therapy,
  • paying attention to responsibility: the participant of group therapy notices that he is responsible for his own life and decisions, as well as for their consequences,
  • learning social skills: participants of group therapy stay with each other for the duration of the session in constant interactions, which enable them to acquire various skills, which are later useful in contacts with other people,
  • Understanding yourself: Group therapy allows you to take a closer look at the root causes of the problem that a person started attending, and to understand the behaviors that the person exhibits.

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