Efficacy of Group Therapy I


According to the American Psychological Association (APA), recent research suggests that group therapy works as well as individual therapy. Group therapy helps people heal as it allows people to interact with one another and gain insight from each other.

In fact, one study suggested that “peer interactions tap into many therapeutic factors.” In most cases group therapy provides a sense of social support and improves feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Group therapy can be most beneficial in cases such as trauma or abuse, where people may need peer interaction to not feel so alone or isolated. The APA also discusses the findings of the book The Theory and Practice of Group Psychology. The book mentions that sometimes hearing from others can be more effective than individual therapy. This is because peers can identify with one another.

In fact, the article mentions that in a meta-analysis of five studies, “Kelly L. Callahan of Harvard Medical School found that sexual abuse survivors improved markedly after participating in group therapy.” Group therapy goes beyond helping people and gaining essential skills, but it shows people that they are not alone in their struggles. Hopefully by seeing others confront and cope with their struggles, they too will get better. The article also mentions that in group therapy “members can be agents of change for each other,” and that seeing the progress of others can ultimately help you.

Efficacy of Group Therapy II


The article by Medical News Today, discusses the 11 primary factors in the book The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy. The article discusses that these factors demonstrate the efficacy of group therapy.

  • The first factor is installation of hope. This refers to the idea that watching people cope and recover from problems gives other people in the group hope that they too will recover and feel better.
  • The second factor is universality, meaning bringing people together. Group therapy brings people with similar problemstogether and shows them that they are not alone.
  • The third factor is imparting information,meaning sharing information. Since this is a group setting, members get to share ideas, advice, and information with each other and help each other.
  • The fourth factor is altruism, which meansdoing things that bring advantages to others. Group therapy allows others to help each other, give each other reassurance and support.
  • The fifth factor iscorrective recapitulation of the primary family group. This means that because group therapy helps people challenge their early childhood experiences, people can learn what specific experiences shaped who they are.
  • The sixth factor is the development of socializing techniques. Since group therapy involves sharing thoughts and ideas and listening to others, people can learn how to communicate and interact with others.
  • The seventh factor is imitative behavior which refers to group members learning appropriate behaviors and how to model them.
  • The eighth factor is interpersonal learning. This refers to creating better relationships between people. Through observations, listening and feedback one can gain more awareness about his or her interpersonal behavior.
  • The ninth factor is group cohesiveness which refers to group therapy having the same common goal in mind. Since all members have a common goal in mind, this creates a sense of belonging, acceptance, and comfort.
  • The tenth factor is catharsis,which means the release of strong emotion. Through sharing experiences and listening to others’ experiences this process helps people release their emotions.
  • The last factor is existential factors which refers to providing people with a time and space to discuss difficult topics such as grief and loss.

There are many benefits to group therapy which demonstrate its effectiveness and success. This article discussed 11 primary benefits to group therapy, however there are so many more!

Origin of Group Therapy


Group therapy begins with Dr. Joseph Hersey Pratt, who is known as the father of group therapy. Pratt began his work in 1905 with eight patients with pulmonary tuberculosis. He held general-care instruction classes for discharged tuberculosis patients. Pratt noticed how much these patients benefited from coming together and discussing their similar problem that group therapy gained popularity. Pratt’s group became the first formally organized therapeutic group.

A few years later in 1936, group therapy was practiced on prisoners and discharged patients in psychiatric hospitals. After that, group therapy was practiced on people with neurosis, alcohol dependence and on disturbed children. Group therapy was also practiced during World War II to help war victims.

Group therapy has been found to create better changes in a person’s behavior and attitude, it also creates a more permanent change, and it can help people get better together.

Types of Group Therapy






 Open vs. Closed groups

Group therapy can look a little different depending on its members. For example, groups can be closed or open. Open groups mean that new members are allowed to join at any point while closed groups refer to all members starting at the same point.

Homogenous vs. Heterogeneous groups

There can also be homogenous groups or heterogenous groups. Homogenous groups refer to members having the same or similar characteristics. For example, all adults or all adolescents.  Heterogenous groups refers to members having different characteristics such as differing age or issue.

 Support groups

Support groups are meant to provide people with a safe and comfortable place to share their experiences with other people who may also be going through something similar. In support groups people also receive feedback from one another or help if desired.

Psychoeducational groups

Psychoeducational groups are essentially classes for people which focus on various psychological topics. They usually involve a therapist leading the group through a pre-planned curriculum.

Process groups

Process groups are usually unstructured meaning there is not a topic for each session. People attending process groups typically bring any topic up that the group feels is necessary to discuss. It is said that “the power of process groups lies in the unique opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, encouragement and feedback from other individuals in safe and confidential environment.” People are encouraged to offer feedback to each other and offer support.

Skills-Based groups

Skills-Based groups usually have structured content with a limited time frame. People who come to skills-based groups typically come together to learn skills. Some skills may include meditation, how to communicate in a health manner, and more. Skills-Based groups have been found to be beneficial as people are learning beside their peers.

Self-Help groups (12-Step Program)

A 12-Step Program is a plan to help overcome addictions and compulsions. The 12-Steps include:

  1. Admitting powerlessness over the addiction
  2. Believing that a higher power (in whatever form) can help
  3. Deciding to turn control over to the higher power
  4. Taking a personal inventory
  5. Admitting to the higher power, oneself, and another person the wrongs done
  6. Being ready to have the higher power correct any shortcomings in one’s character
  7. Asking the higher power to remove those shortcomings
  8. Making a list of wrongs done to others and being willing to make amends for those wrongs
  9. Contacting those who have been hurt, unless doing so would harm the person
  10. Continuing to take personal inventory and admitting when one is wrong
  11. Seeking enlightenment and connection with the higher power via prayer and meditation
  12. Carrying the message of the 12 Steps to others in need

Indication for Group Therapy


Some indications that a person may benefit from group therapy includes struggling with the following conditions:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Depression
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Substance abuse
  • Grief and loss
  • Domestic violence

People should consider group therapy if they feel they would benefit from being surrounded by peers. One of the primary benefits of group therapy is the fact that people can affect change in one another. Learning, listening, and providing feedback to one another is one of the most beneficial factors of group therapy.

Key Studies

Individual Therapy vs. Group Therapy in Adult Schizophrenic Patients


This specific study looked at which type of therapy reduced the symptoms of schizophrenia in adult patients. The study assessed improvement in mental state, quality of life and social functioning. It was found that:

Group psychotherapy was significantly more effective than individual psychotherapy at improving subject outcome ratings at both 12- and 24-month follow-up. However, neither treatment was found to be more effective at preventing subject relapse, re-hospitalization, or likelihood of discharge.

Group Therapy Effect on Substance Abuse Patients


This study discusses numerous studies examining group treatments for interview-diagnosed drug use disorders. It included 50 studies that reported on the efficacy of group treatments for adults with drug use disorder. Group treatment for cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, opioid, mixed substance, and substance use disorder with co-occurring psychiatric conditions were reviewed. It was found that group treatments seem to have more of an effect on improving positive outcomes such as abstinence and use rates when compared to standard care with no group aspect, as well as those who refuse or drop out of treatment.

Group Psychotherapy Effect on Borderline Personality Disorder Patients


This experiment tested whether patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD) are more likely to experience an improvement in symptoms if they participate in group psychotherapy as opposed to treatment typically offered in the community. Results indicated that “treatments that include group psychotherapy lead to greater symptom improvement for patients with BPD than treatments typically offered in the community.”