5 Reasons to Give Online Group Therapy a Go
Attending group therapy is a daunting idea at the best of times. I don’t think I have met one participant who wasn’t nervous about starting. The whole concept can seem like something of a mystery and you may be wondering, how does it work? What kind of people attend group therapy? Or, what happens if I can’t relate to these people?
If the extent of your knowledge about group therapy stems from the movies or TV shows, you may be reluctant to give it a try. Individual work seems like a safer option and surely it’s better to have the therapist fully focused on you? Not necessarily. I am a big advocate for group work. I believe it can reach parts of ourselves that are hard to reach in one-on-one work.
In these times of social distancing group therapy is going online. You may be feeling particularly isolated at this time, even if you are living with people. Perhaps those you live with can’t understand how you’re feeling at the moment.
Group therapy is an opportunity to connect with people who are going through something similar to you. My groups are for those struggling with binge eating, but there are many new groups being set up by therapists for all manner of problems – health anxiety, new mums, OCD to name a few.
Here are a few reasons why I believe giving online group therapy a go.
#1. Opportunity to connect with people who ‘get it’
Whatever you are struggling with, you are not the only one. There are no new problems and there will be people out there who understand what it’s like. It’s easy to get lost in your troubles and feel very alone. Sometimes your problems become such a source of shame, especially when you are feeling stuck or acting in self-sabotaging ways. If you are feeling ashamed, it is very difficult to make positive changes. Perhaps you are struggling to find any self-compassion right now.
The group can act as a mirror. When you hear someone else talking about something you also do, think or feel, it can be easier to think more kindly toward them than you can about yourself. When you feel compassion to someone in a similar position to you it is often experienced as a sense of feeling calmer about your problems and then new perspectives start to develop.
#2. Location is no longer a factor in choosing an online group
It doesn’t matter where you are or where the therapist is located in these times. There is no travel to think about and as long as you have reliable internet, you are good to go. This widens your options and you can search far and wide for a group you like the sound of. You can get support from the comfort of your own home.
#3. You can see everyone’s face
Most people find this quite reassuring. In an in-person group you can generally only look at one person at a time. If you are particularly nervous, it could be quite challenging to look at anyone. There is something leveling about everyone’s face on the screen at the same time. You see everyone nodding when they are resonating with something that you’re saying and that is a validating experience.
#4. The distance can feel safer
There is an interesting dynamic of connection versus a sense of being apart in an online group. Sometimes the physical distance and being in your own home means you can feel safer to emotionally connect with the group. If you are feeling especially anxious, you know it is possible to leave at the click of a button. This is not so easy to do if you are in physical attendance somewhere. This doesn’t mean you would necessarily choose to do this, but sometimes when we know we can leave, it’s easier to stay.
#5. Group therapy is an affordable option
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty for people. This can make preexisting struggles, like eating disorders, rear their heads again. If you are experiencing some financial instability, or you are worried about future financial difficulties, individual therapy may seem expensive. Group therapy is a more affordable option. Prices vary, but most groups are more than 60% cheaper than individual sessions and they tend to be longer than the usual 50 minutes of individual therapy. You get much more for your money; I have seen how effective group therapy can be and in many ways, it can be better for people than individual work.
Looking for a therapy group?
I am currently running a couple of binge eating therapy groups and at the time of writing this post, there are a couple of spaces available. I also run training for other therapists about how to set up online therapy groups in their private practice, so if you are interested in a different type of group, please get in touch and I will see if I can help you find something to suit you.