Practitioners sometimes incorporate the social setting in which disorder occurs by conducting therapy in groups. Group therapy is psychotherapy in which clients receive psychological treatment together with others. A professionally trained therapist guides the group, usually between 6 and 10 participants, to create a n atmosphere of support and emotional safety for the participants (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005). 1
Group therapy provides a safe place where people come together to share problems or concerns, to better understand their own situations, and to learn from and with each other. Group therapy is often cheaper than individual therapy, as the therapist can treat more people at the same time, but economy is only one part of its attraction. Group therapy allows people to help each other, by sharing ideas, problems, and solutions. It provides social support, offers the knowledge that other people are facing and successfully coping with similar situations, and allows group members to model the successful behaviors of other group members. Group therapy makes explicit the idea that our interactions with others may create, intensify, and potentially alleviate disorders.
Group therapy has met with much success in the more than 50 years it has been in use, and it has generally been found to be as or more effective than individual therapy (McDermut, Miller, & Brown, 2001). 2 Group therapy is particularly effective for people who have life-altering illness, as it helps them cope better with their disease, enhances the quality of their lives, and in some cases has even been shown to help them live longer (American Group Psychotherapy Association, 2000). 3
Sometimes group therapy is conducted with people who are in close relationships. Couples therapyis treatment in which two people who are cohabitating, married, or dating meet together with the practitioner to discuss their concerns and issues about their relationship. These therapies are in some cases educational, providing the couple with information about what is to be expected in a relationship. The therapy may focus on such topics as sexual enjoyment, communication, or the symptoms of one of the partners (e.g., depression).
Family therapy involves families meeting together with a therapist. In some cases the meeting is precipitated by a particular problem with one family member, such as a diagnosis of bipolar disorder in a c hild. Family therapy is based on the assumption that the problem, even if it is primarily affecting one person, is the result of a n interaction among the people in the family.