Group Counseling is a form of psychotherapy in which a group of individuals who don’t know each other outside the group, meet at regular intervals for the purposes of treatment and change. Groups are often used to focus on a specific problem.

In the safe environment of a therapy group, where nothing a person says or does can affect his job, friends, love life, etc., she/he is able to experiment with taking risks that might be too frightening in his/her daily life. Secrets that have never been exposed to outsiders can be revealed. Since members of a group are usually very honest about their reactions, the patient gets quite an accurate picture of how others see him/her and his/her secrets. She/he often discovers that not only can others accept these secrets that seemed terrible to the patient, but exposing vulnerabilities can draw others closer. In addition, the group becomes an emotion laboratory, where the patient can learn to understand his/her own reactions by watching the patterns of others’ reactions.

In Individual Therapy, the patient is often discussing interactions with others that have happened outside the therapeutic environment. These are all in the past tense and filtered through the patient’s eyes and recollections.

In Group Therapy, by contrast, the interactions are observed by the therapist and other group members as they happen.


 — Courtesy of Group Psychotherapy Association of Southern California