Group Therapy is Vital to Teen Mental Health

Teens need authentic connection.

There is ongoing research on the importance of peer connection in preventing and treating mental illness. Loneliness is both a known cause and consequence of mental illness. So much so that loneliness is a risk factor for early mortality, surpassing obesity, smoking, and alcohol abuse. The good news is that relationships and healthy attachment can be curative. Antelopes’ teen groups focus on relationship and communication skills that empower our teens and parents to build and deepen healthy relationships. We know that mental illness can be isolating and inescapably lonely. Through our group therapy programs, we face that reality head-on and teach our clients how to build and deepen relationships with others.

Teens specifically relate to loneliness and perceive the feeling of being lonely differently than adults do. Unique properties of adolescence carry a special risk for perceived social isolation. These include (but are not limited to) developmental changes in friendships, identity exploration, cognitive maturation, developmental changes in social perspective-taking, and physical maturation. Teens often need specific support with developing social skills – and we’ve found groups to be the best technique to facilitate the growth and maturity of those skills.

Connection heals by…

  • Knowing that if you were in trouble, you could call someone in the middle of the night who would “have your back” significantly predicts the longevity of life.

Often, people choose to start therapy only with a one-on-one therapist without considering joining a group with peers or other people struggling or wanting to grow. It might feel intimidating to join a group with people you don’t know, but there are programs and professionals out there who can help guide you and with whom you’ll deeply connect.

What is group therapy?

Group therapy is a type of psychotherapy in which a therapist works with multiple clients simultaneously in a group setting. It’s a common type of therapy used within mental health treatment programs. There are many different types of group therapy options. All of these can also be attended virtually!

  • EMDR groups
  • DBT groups
  • CBT groups
  • Emotional and social development building
  • Adventure therapy groups
  • Art therapy groups
  • NA, AA, or Alateen groups
  • Support groups for grief, divorce, illness, etc.

If you’re thinking about joining a group, ask these questions:

  • What are the goals of the group?
  • What is the size of the group?
  • What is the age range of the group?
  • What is the group’s orientation (i.e., is it open or closed)?
  • What is the focus of the group?
  • What is the gender mix of the group?
  • What is the schedule? (i.e., how frequently does the group meet and for how long?)

Even though talking about your thoughts and feelings in a group setting might seem intimidating, group therapy provides wide-ranging mental health benefits that individual psychotherapy does not. At its core, groups help members feel comfortable with being vulnerable, navigating their emotions, and having honest, direct conversations with others.

What does group therapy usually look like?‍

During a group, usually, one or more facilitators lead a group of 5–15 clients. Typically, groups meet one or two times a week. Some clients attend individual therapy in addition to the group, while others only participate in the group. In an intensive outpatient program, patients attend multiple groups each week.

Group facilitators might be active in the group, helping group members develop skills or asking questions, or may only intervene in the group conversation to keep the group moving in a productive direction. Some facilitators encourage a free-form dialogue during group sessions, while others have a specific plan for each group session.

Learn about the groups we offer at Antelope.