While individual therapy is very powerful and important, I have long held the impression that group therapy can be even more effective than individual work. Now research is beginning to confirm my instincts.
The New York Times reported on an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine this past June, which discussed a research study that compared individual treatment to group treatment for victims of sexual violence. Group therapy proved to lead to a stronger reduction in symptoms for the participants at the end of treatment and had a longer lasting effect compared to those who only received individual treatment. Six months after treatment ended, the participants in group therapy showed considerably lower levels of depression and anxiety than those who only received individual treatment.
Group work reduces a sense of isolation. It has been shown to give participants hope and offers an added avenue of information sharing. Participants get to explore some of the feelings they have towards groups in their lives. Within the context of the group they are able to practice new and better ways of interacting with others. This translates to improved relationships in school, family, or the work environment. These are just some of the benefits that group therapy can offer.