Is Group Therapy as Effective as Individual Therapy?

Written by: The Circles Team

Jan 04, 2021

You have decided it is time to get support for the challenges you are facing. You have already done the most challenging part by recognizing that you no longer want to face what is challenging you alone. The decision to start therapy can be scary. It can be even more terrifying when you are unsure of what to expect or feel overwhelmed by all the different therapy types out there.

Perhaps, you are new to therapy. Sometimes, it can be challenging to know what type of treatment will work best for you and the issues you are facing. A quick Internet search will show seemingly unlimited options. It can be not easy, not to mention overwhelming, to decide on the right approach for you. You may even be wondering, are my challenges better suited for individual or group therapy? Research shows that both modes of therapy are equally effective. There are, however, significant differences in the focus of these therapies and how they can best help you best navigate your unique life challenges.

It is also essential to recognize that individual therapy and group therapy are not mutually exclusive. It is often a common practice that both therapy modes go hand in hand and can be used as a “two-fold” approach. So just what are the benefits of group therapy?

What is Group Therapy?

First, what exactly is group therapy? In its simplest definition, group therapy gathers like-minded people who meet regularly to offer mutual support and discuss ways they are coping with life challenges. Groups may meet for several weeks, months, or even stay connected for years. Groups may be open - new members are welcome to join at any time or closed, where all members begin at the same time. Groups can also be peer-led or be led by a therapist.

What Will I Gain From Joining a Support Group?

Whatever form of therapy you choose, you are likely to receive a wide range of benefits. Professionally facilitated online support groups are unique in that they rely on the support of the group and the therapists’ input. Here are five additional services associated with joining professionally facilitated support groups.

Group Therapy is Cost-Effective:

Individual therapy can be expensive, and group therapy can be offered at just a fraction of the cost. Individual sessions can cost up to 200.00 per hour, whereas group therapy can cost as little as $15 per hour.

Groups Therapy Provides the Power of Universality:

It is common when you are suffering from feeling alone with your feelings. But when you join a support group, it can be tremendously comforting and a huge relief to learn that you are not the only one facing this problem or the only one who feels a certain way about an issue. At Circles, we have learned the more homogenous the group, the easier it is for members to connect and find hope and comfort together.

Group Therapy Allows You to See Yourself in Others:

Discussing your issues in a group setting can reveal insights about yourself that, in the past, you may have been too close to see. Discussion topics are organically generated by the group allowing for varying perspectives to common problems. Group therapy also allows you to model successful behaviors while reflecting on your own.

Group Therapy Allows You to Tap into a Social Network and Beat Loneliness:

Whether you have recently lost a loved one, are facing a divorce, a cancer diagnosis, or any other life challenge, you may be facing newfound loneliness. Becoming a member of a support group will help you gain a sense of belonging and acceptance. Friendships also develop and extend outside of the formal group meetings, many continuing for years to come.

Group Therapy is More Than Peer Support:

Therapists who lead professionally facilitated group sessions can help group members navigate issues with specialized expertise. Whereas group members and peers are valuable support, professionally facilitated groups offer benefits beyond forums or informal self-help groups.

Group therapy can be a helpful resource no matter the challenges you are facing. The good news is the different types of support groups available are plenty. So, whatever challenges you are facing, there is likely a support group waiting for a valued member, just like you.

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The Benefits of Joining a Support Group

Written by: The Circles Team

Dec 01, 2020

Support groups offer a space where people can share common issues, ranging from health concerns to emotional needs. In well-formulated groups, the members can express their honest thoughts and struggles without the fear of judgment. Support groups can be utilized as supplemental to medical treatments or individual therapy services to cultivate healing or personal growth.

Talking to others about our difficulties helps us see our situation clearly by reflecting on our own needs and emotions. At times, our immediate circle of support may not be equipped enough for the amount of emotional pain that we are encountering. Joining a support group can be beneficial in many ways, whether dealing with an emotionally challenging situation or suffering from a mental and physical health issue.

Support groups come in various formats and structures. Some groups may be informative, while others might be emotionally-process-oriented. There are groups for people looking for targeted behavioral changes, specific situational issues, health issues, and groups that serve therapeutic purposes. We are all in need of a support group of a proper shape or style.

Support groups are offered in many different settings, including religious organizations, nonprofits, therapy offices, health clinics, and online platforms. The other locations provide options for diverse support groups to find the necessary care. You will find a sense of comfort in being able to listen and discuss your emotional challenges with others.

These are just a few of the benefits of joining a support group:

  • Fewer feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Gaining knowledge about the emotional process of your difficult situations
  • Feeling understood by others.
  • Discovering coping skills
  • Gaining resources from others going through similar situations
  • Provides a sense of belonging and validation
  • Empowerment
  • Stimulating new thoughts and feelings about your situations
  • Gaining the ability to manage your emotions
  • Sharing accountability
  • Affordability

We all need a place to share our tears and laughter with a community of people that understand our expressed emotions. Circles support groups offer the opportunity to have a balanced integration of sharing information, building coping skills, and processing emotions.

You will find that Circles offers a unique approach to connect you with your emotional community. Find your support group led by a mental health professional today.

How Can Support Group Therapy Ease the Pain of Grief?

Written by: The Circles Team

Nov 10, 2020

Have you recently lost someone you loved?  Are you having trouble moving through the stages of grief?  Do you feel like you are paddling upstream, through Class V rapids, and don’t know how to catch your breath?  Grief, like love, may be the most powerful emotion we as humans feel.  When we lose a loved one the feeling can be crushing and very difficult to move on from.

Grief is not only paralyzing, but grief can also be so very lonely.  Grief is personal and unique to each and every one of us.  And at times it may seem like you are the only one who could possibly feel such, deep and gut-wrenching pain.  The truth is that there many others out there suffering the pain of grief, alone just like you.

Talking about death and grief openly in our culture is at best awkward.  Death reminds of us of our own mortality and it is commonplace for our culture to avoid the discussion at all costs. After the funeral, we are expected to neatly move on.  Get back to work. Get back to living.  The truth is grief is messy.  It is disruptive.  It lasts a long time.  And there is no straight forward easy path to healing. For healing to truly take place you must work hard and diligently through the stages of grief.  At Circles, we have seen firsthand that one of the best ways to work through grief is to work through it with the support, kindness and care of others going through the same challenges.

Finding support with others in a group setting can make moving through difficult times in a nurturing environment much easier.  There are many specialized support groups which focus on grief.  These groups, often led by a professionally trained grief therapist, help those who have experienced loss move through the stages of grief collectively and in healthy, productive ways.

If you have never been part of a support group before – it is natural to have questions.   Here are a few frequently asked questions that we often get with regard to joining one our online professionally facilitated grief support groups.

What Can I Expect From A Grief Support Group? In Circles grief support group, you can expect a safe and nurturing environment where you are encouraged to share your feelings openly and honestly.  Support groups are a safe, confidential space to speak from the heart about your lost loved one.  If it is difficult to talk about your emotions you have the availability to remain anonymous.  It is expected that your emotions will run freely and openly.  It is encouraged that feelings and difficult emotions are expressed and received with support, kindness love and care. Circles support groups are more than just a peer support group.  All our groups are led by a professionally trained and licensed facilitator.  Over a matter of weeks your facilitator will get to know you and share important insights for your healing and progress.

What Will Talk About During Our Weekly Group Sessions?

At Circles, we follow an evidence based curriculum for each of our support groups.  Our experienced facilitators listen to you, your expectations and your needs.  The topics discussed are individualized and are relevant to you and your peers.  The first few sessions of your support group will be about getting to know one another and building the trust and rapport needed to share openly and confidently about your feelings and grief.   We have heard from many of our participants that their weekly group meeting highlights their weekly calendar. They look forward to the consistent, non-judgmental support available to them each week.

What are the Benefits of Joining a Grief Support Group?  One of the best things about attending a grief support group is an essential reminder that you are not alone.  Although we have been leading support groups for many years, we still find it amazing that group members report that they feel more hope and meaning in their lives after just one or two sessions.  Other benefits that are group members report include:

Feeling less lonely  Having reduced feelings of distress, anxiety, and depression  Finding increased coping skills  Increased sense of self -empowerment  Increased knowledge and resources  Positive emotional, mental, and physical health outcomes  Having an increased sense of happiness and hopefulness

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Swiss American psychiatrist and author of “On Death and Dying,” said the reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again, but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to."   Our mission at Circles is to find the best in you to help you cope, find resources, and heal within our emotional support groups.

Stronger, Together

Written by: The Circles Team

Nov 30, 2020

We’ve all been there.

We’ve all faced difficult times in our lives. And sometimes, it can feel like no one in the universe can really, truly understand what we’re going through that no one can know how we feel.

It can make us feel really lonely.

As much as our experiences differ, and even though we all experience them differently as individuals, there is, however, some common ground. That’s the beauty of life – it’s complicated and diverse, yet we’re all human. And human nature has the capacity for empathy and sympathy, and we often experience and feel similar things.

Talking to strangers can be strange at first, especially when dealing with your most personal thoughts and feelings. Still, there are also specific benefits, especially when you’re talking with others facing a similarly hard time. Your inner circle of friends may be the closest people to you, but if you’re dealing with anxiety or depression or grief, and they are not, it can be challenging to connect. But if you speak with others who are also going through the same thing as you are, it can be a real epiphany to realize there are people out there who know how I feel.

When you speak with others in a similar situation, you can get relief hearing what they’re going through and realizing you’re not alone. Not only that, but you can provide them with relief by talking about what you’re going through - you support and learn from each other. The diversity of life experience is also a benefit since it can help us discover different ways of coping or provide us with a whole new perspective on our situation.

Connecting with others going through similar hard times, especially in a small group led by a professional therapist, can be a beneficial method for helping people feel better and learn new coping skills. Groups such as these can help reduce feelings of isolation and alienation and give us a sense that “we’re all in this together.”

Another benefit is the opportunity to express your feelings and practice new coping skills in a safe, secure environment. When you are part of a supportive circle and surrounded by people who can relate to what you’re going through, you can rely on their support. This can give you strength and confidence, even between group meetings.

So, even though we all face our life challenges, so many people are dealing with similar things. Whether it’s a feeling of stress or anxiety or dealing with a specific life transition, we can take comfort knowing others are going through the same thing. When you find these others, and when you can connect with them in a meaningful way, it can make all the difference.

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