When it comes to mental health issues in children, there is no dispute that individual therapy is crucial. Whether for anxiety, ADHD, trauma, substance abuse or mood disorders like depression, the attention and guidance of an individual therapist is key for treatment and recovery. In some cases, group therapy can be a very beneficial addition to a child’s treatment plan.
Psycom describes the alternative benefits of individual and group therapy sessions. Individual therapy helps kids and teens manage difficult emotions and make the unique changes they need to improve their wellbeing. Group therapy, on the other hand, gives kids an opportunity to practice making those changes in the company of other young people that they can relate to. Throughout the process of group therapy, kids might translate what they learn from one-on-one’s with their trusted therapist into real-life interactions, preparing them for group scenarios like school, sports, and busy households.
There are a number of different approaches to group therapy, all intended to create the proper environment for support and inclusion. Kids with similar stress factors or difficulties might be grouped together to build camaraderie and empathy whether the focus is on practicing mindful techniques to improve emotional stability or talking through triggering experiences like phobias or bullying.
Ask yourself this – could your child be more confident? Could your child benefit from stress management? Does your child crave a supportive community? If so, group therapy might be a good option. Through the support of a group, kids can experience a boost in self-confidence in social settings. Not only does group therapy give them the opportunity to be heard, but they’re also able to listen and work through issues with others, which drives emotional intelligence and the ability to intuitively connect. Establishing a set of peers through group therapy can often lead to long-term, meaningful friendships.
Many mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and overuse of online social media can cause loneliness of a sense of isolation. The support of a group is an important reminder to kids like this that they aren’t alone and that they can have a positive impact on their peers’ lives by being caring and listening with empathy. Groups that meet with frequency and regularity will offer the most benefits.
There are some important contraindications for group therapy - notably, if a child or teen is in the midst of a crisis or expresses suicidal thoughts, individual therapy should take precedence. Aside from these, group therapy can be a wonderful way for kids with mental health issues to explore their emotions.