There are many benefits to group therapy. It is a form of support that is unlike traditional psychotherapy in that the stories of others in the group become a significant form of support.
Group therapy includes the presence of a therapist, psychologist, social worker or other mental health professional who is facilitating the group experience. Also in the room are others who are all experiencing the same diagnosis or life problem. For instance, adults who were sexually abused as children might make up a group in therapy. Typically, everyone in the room, aside from the therapist, is experiencing the same life challenge. Group therapy for teens with Bipolar Disorder can be incredibly supportive and healing.
Group therapy has been proven to be effective within the mental health field. They are as diverse as the wide variety of individual therapies. Some groups are more psychologically oriented, while others are more social in nature. Other support groups can be solely educational in nature, teaching participants about their diagnosis or healthier coping mechanisms or skills to manage their illness appropriately.
For instance, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is often used with Bipolar Disorder teens and adults. It is a form of behavioral therapy that teaches adolescents the skills they need to move closer to their life goals and assists them in integrating those skills into everyday life. The therapy is a compassionate form of treatment method that brings meaning and purpose into a teen’s life. The many dysfunctional symptoms of Bipolar Disorder make it difficult for a teen to function effectively in school, home, and work. DBT is meant to address those issues by teaching skills to cope with them and replace the self-defeating, dysfunctional coping mechanisms.
An adolescent would participate in DBT by attending both individual therapy as well as group therapy. However, one significant aspect of this treatment method is to participate in a 16-week Skills Group, which is the venue for learning the necessary life skills that makes DBT so effective. The Skills Group typically meets for 90 minutes once per week, while individual therapy or group therapy can take place once to twice per week, focusing on sharpening skills and integrating them into daily life.
In this case, the individual and group therapy of DBT is more psychologically oriented, serving to address the specific issues that a teen might be experiencing. On the other hand, the Skills Group is another form of group therapy that is more educational in nature, teaching specific skills and coping mechanisms that a teen might need to manage his or her life.
In both the group therapy as well as the Skills Group, an adolescent gains from the experiences of others. The opportunity to connect with and understand the experience of other teens in the room facilitates acceptance of the challenges of his or her diagnosis as well as creates compassion – not only for that other adolescent but also for oneself.
As mentioned earlier, group therapy comes in a variety of forms. Another useful form of group therapy is a support group. For the parents, caregivers, family members and/or friends of a Bipolar adolescent, support groups can be useful in sharing the challenges of living with or being in relationship with someone with the illness. Furthermore, another benefit to group therapy is that it typically costs less than individual therapy where all the members of the group share in the cost.
Group therapy for Bipolar Disorder is an important part of treating this mental illness. It should be considered when creating a treatment plan with a mental health professional as well as when family members, friends, and even co-workers are seeking support.
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