TYPES OF GROUPS
There are various types of groups for mental wellness available. If you’re looking into group therapy here or anywhere else, it’s often helpful to ask a few questions so you know what to expect.
Below, you will find some general characteristics of group treatment options. While this is not an exhaustive list of characteristics of group treatment, it should be a good starting point to help you understand what to expect.
open or closed
Open groups allow people to join or leave on an open basis. New faces may join on a week by week basis, or there might be rotations or scheduled “open meetings” where new people are integrated into the existing group. Closed groups begin and end with the same group of people. They are often more private and intimate than open groups, but both have valuable benefits.
support groups or therapy groups
Support groups are characterized by a meeting of a group of people with similar experiences. A guide is generally present to help facilitate the meeting, but content leans towards sharing and discussion of individual experiences and providing validation and support. Therapeutic groups, in addition to providing the support referenced above, also focus on addressing specific internal mental and emotional problems in a structured way. It is similar to individual therapy, but in a group setting.
skills-based or general topic
Some groups focus on learning specific sets of skills and tools to help you in your life. Others focus more on general issues, such as anxiety, depression, or anger. While either kind of group can include the other element, it’s helpful to know what to expect before you begin.
educational groups or process groups
Educational groups are run much like a classroom. When you sign up for one of these groups, it is often geared toward learning and how to apply the information you’ve learned. Some may be more interactive while others more like a traditional class. A group leader will be providing information and teaching you how to use it in your daily life. Process groups are based more on open dialogue, with a group leader facilitating discussion. Participants create the content through reflection, introspection, and interaction with others.
specific treatment groups
Some groups are offered as part of a particular treatment program such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Radically Open DBT, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, or Co-Occurring Disorders treatment (for substance use disorders and mental illness). These groups will usually require some sort of admission application and/or a commitment to treatment.
recovery support meetings
These are community-based groups of people who meet with an intentional focus. Often spiritual (but not religious) in nature, they include various components such as sharing of story and struggles, working through a 12-step recovery model, a guest speaker, and specific prayers used by that group for commitment to recovery. Recovery support groups often include members from all stages of recovery from substance abuse, mental illness, or other addictions. Some groups are open, meaning anyone can attend regardless of whether or not they consider themselves to be an addict, while others are closed, meaning you must admit you are an addict in order to attend. Many people find recovery support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Celebrate Recovery to be invaluable parts of their recovery journey.
mindfulness groups and meditation groups
These groups often serve to provide a space for shared experience of mindfulness practice. Some may include a brief discussion or educational component, while others focus more on the practice itself.