Interpersonal group psychotherapy offers many unique and important therapeutic benefits and some of these benefits are quite distinct from individual psychotherapy.
Interpersonal group psychotherapy can even be considered an “applications” phase of psychotherapy. The sense of self is strengthened and dysfunctional relationship patterns are identified in individual therapy. Group therapy offers the opportunity to change these dysfunctional patterns as they occur with peers and to raise self-esteem by increasing interpersonal skills.
Significant Advantages to Interpersonal Group Therapy
Group therapy is a microcosm of one’s own interpersonal world. Interpersonal difficulties, i.e. projections and distortions emerge in the relationships with others in the group. Through group participation, one comes to understand how these interpersonal difficulties create barriers to closeness with others.
Group therapy is an interpersonal learning environment, Effective communication styles and healthy behavior are modeled by peers. As these more effective patterns are learned, a group member receives increasingly positive feedback from others in the group and this feedback increases self-esteem.
Group therapy is a “corrective emotional experience.” For many people, prior to joining the group, relationships have been painful and difficult. Childhood patterns of abuse have often been replicated in adult relationships. In group therapy, one become part of a community which is like a healthy family. There is the opportunity to experience positive and healing relationships.
Learning to reflect on the “process” in relationships and handle conflict successfully are very important process skills that are acquired in group psychotherapy. Many people have not known how to resolve conflict in relationships and as a result have avoided conflict and missed out on intimacy, closeness, and commitment.
Group therapy is team approach and a truly cooperative effort. One has the opportunity learn about problem solving, trusting peers and community spirit.
Interpersonal group psychotherapy offers many significant therapeutic benefits. For many people, peer feedback and support as well as in vivo interpersonal learning are essential to the change process. Group therapy can be considered another aspect or phase of the psychotherapy process. In this phase of psychotherapy, one has an opportunity to take the insight, self awareness, and newly strengthened sense of self gained from individual therapy out into the world of peer relationships. Through this essential work group therapy participants learn how to have close and rewarding relationships.