Appropriateness of group therapy
Group therapy is an ideal choice for teens. The adolescent and teenage years are a time where individuals experience a high level psychosocial vulnerability. Social interaction supports this vulnerability becomes a primary part of development. Because most socialization occurs through the observation of others (social learning), group therapy (of any kind) can be a great fit for adolescents and teenagers.
Psychoeducational group therapy
There are many different kinds of group therapy, but one of the most widely used, psychoeducational group therapy, is often a good fit for teenagers and adolescents. Psychoeducational groups can provide teens with information to help them learn about their struggles, make better choices, and cope in more effective ways. Psychoeducational groups foster a supportive and empowering environment for teens. Psychoeducational groups also:
- Provide a safe and encouraging setting
- Promote active participation
- Endorse personal responsibility – for their learning and their recovery
- Educate – about the specific mental illness or struggle, coping strategies, stages of change
- Provide resources – resources not only for the teen, but also his or her family members/caregivers.
How your teen can get the most from the group setting
Getting your teen to actually attend a psychoeducational group is a good first step. Yet once they are there, certain things can help him or her get the most out of the experience.
- Commit – if your teen is motivated to feel better and manage his or her struggles more effectively, it is important for them to make a commitment to the group. This means understanding what is expected of him or her throughout the therapeutic process.
- Share – when your teen actively shares personal experiences, it is helpful to not only your teen, but also the other group participants.
- Participate – just as important as sharing is listening. If you teen can practice active listening, he or she will be able to walk away from each group having learned something.
Benefits of psychoeducational group therapy for your teen
- Normalizing – being around others who share similar struggles, your teen can gain a sense that what he or she is experiencing is “normal” or common.
- Process time – although psychoedducational groups are primarily focused on education, there is often opportunity for processing. Processing in group therapy is sharing one’s experiences, feelings, struggles, etc., and receiving feedback on how other’s can relate.
- Positive peer support – hearing from others who struggle in similar ways to that of your teen can help him or her feel less alone, which can be a relief to many.
- Coping skills – part of the educational aspect of psychoeducational groups is teaching effective coping skills and tools. Teens can then begin to incorporate healthier approaches to coping with difficult emotions, thoughts, and interactions with others.
- Goal setting – part of any therapeutic process is a treatment plan that includes goals. It is important your teen’s goal is specific, realistic, and attainable.
- Decreased isolation – if your teen struggles with anxiety, depression, or another mental illness, you may notice he or she begins to pull away from social outlets and spend less time with family and friends. Joining a psychoeducational group can help your teen begin to pull out of his or her isolation, and interact with others.
- Social skills – not only do groups facilitate decreased isolation, but it can also promote reintegration and reengagement with others. Group therapy can help your teen hone appropriate social skills.
- Witness others’ recovery process – witnessing peers’ progression in recovery can increase your teen’s motivation to work on his or her struggle(s).
- Feedback – group therapy often serves as a sounding board for participants. Hearing from others can be helpful to your teen in terms of seeing situations from different perspectives and outlooks.
- Price – group therapy is often less expensive than individual psychotherapy
Drawbacks of psychoeducational group therapy for your teen
Although psychoeducational group therapy has a long list of advantages, there are specific criticisms as well. Critics tend to say group therapy, in general, can be:
- Unfocused and/or impersonal
- Ineffective for those who struggle with social phobias
- Potential for conflict
- Possibility of being present but not actually participating
Just because some individuals do not advocate for the use of group therapy with teens, that is not to say that it wouldn’t be a good fit for your child. To find out more about psychoeducational group therapy, contact the experts at Polaris at 1-844-836-0222.