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ACCEPTANCE & COMMITMENT THERAPY

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GROUP THERAPY

Group Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists working with several clients at the same time.

When facilitated with evidenced-based theory, Group Therapy can help individuals make profound and lasting changes in their lives. Group Therapy is often the main type of modality used in intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programs, inpatient psychiatric units and residential treatment centers, and is commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy and medication. The key therapeutic principles outlined below have been derived from extensive research with individuals who have been involved in the Group Therapy process:

 

The instillation of hope: Seeing people who are coping or recovering gives hope to those at the beginning of the process.

 

Universality: Being part of a group of people who have the same experiences helps people see that what they are going through is universal and that they are not alone.

 

Imparting information: Group members can help each other by sharing information.

 

Altruism: Group members can share their strengths and help others in the group, which can boost self-esteem and confidence.

 

The corrective recapitulation of the primary family group: The therapy group is much like a family. Within the group, each member can explore how childhood experiences contributed to their personality and behaviors. They can also learn to avoid behaviors that are destructive or unhelpful in real life.

 

Development of socialization techniques: The group setting is a great place to practice new behaviors. The setting is safe and supportive, allowing group members to experiment without the fear of failure.

 

Imitative behavior: Individuals can model the behavior of other group members as well as observe and imitate the behavior of the therapist.

 

Interpersonal learning: By interacting with other people and receiving feedback from the group and the therapist, members of the group can gain more insight and understanding of themselves.

 

Group cohesiveness: Because the group is united in a common goal, members have a sense of belonging and acceptance.

 

Catharsis: Sharing feelings and experiences with a group of people can help relieve pain, guilt, or stress.

 

Existential factors: While working within a group which offers support and guidance, group therapy encourages members to realize that they are responsible for their own lives, actions, and choices (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005).

 

Groups can be as small as three or four people, however, group therapy sessions typically involve around seven to twelve individuals. In many cases, the group will meet in a room where the chairs are arranged in a large circle so that each member can see every other person in the group. A session might begin with members of the group introducing themselves and sharing why they are in group therapy. Members might also share their experiences and progress since the last meeting.

 

The precise manner in which the session is conducted depends largely on the goals of the group and the style of the therapist. Some therapists might encourage a more free-form style of dialogue, where each member participates as he or she sees fit. Other therapists instead have a specific plan for each session that might include having clients practice new skills with other members of the group (Cherry, 2018).

Dr. Molyn Leszcz Interview

Dr. Molyn Leszcz is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. Dr Leszcz served as Psychiatrist-in-Chief at Sinai Health System from 2006-2017 and as Vice Chair, Clinical for Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, from 2010-2017, his academic and clinical work has focused on improving integration in psychiatric care and broadening the application of psychotherapy within psychiatry. HIs research has focused on group psychotherapy for individuals with cancer, and genetic or familial predisposition to cancer; group psychotherapy for patients with schizophrenia; evidence-based approaches to group therapy and modified interpersonal group psychotherapy for patients with substance abuse; and the application of psychological interventions to improve health care workers' wellness. Dr. Leszcz co-authored with Irvin Yalom, the 5th edition of the Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy (2005). The 6th edition is in preparation and will be available in 2020. He also co-authored the book in the Psychotherapy Essentials to Go series, Achieving Psychotherapy Effectiveness, was published in 2015.  Dr. Leszcz was awarded the Anne Alonso Award for Outstanding Contributions to Psychodynamic Group Therapy and also was awarded Distinguished Fellowship in the American Group Psychotherapy Association, has been the recipient of a number of teaching awards at the University of Toronto and is a  Fellow of The Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association. Dr. Leszcz is President-Elect of the American Group Psychotherapy Association and is a member of the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists as well as the Editorial Committee of the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy.

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