Why Group Therapy Works



As a clinician working alongside adolescents, repetitive themes emerge in session including feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disconnection. It is my job to protect confidentiality, and therefore, it is impossible and unethical for me to say what I’m often thinking, which is, “you have no idea how many students from your very high school are telling me the exact same thing during the week.” Sitting in session, I am able to understand the power that connection and universality would provide in the healing process if this particular teenager knew that they were in fact not alone in their concerns. According to Stanford’s David Yalom, MD, “hearing from peers may be more helpful than receiving guidance from a therapist since peers can identify with one another. Those peer interactions appear to translate to real-world gains.” Teenagers are, by nature, social beings, therefore, group settings often offer therapeutic work in a setting that is most comfortable for them.


Here are a few reasons why group therapy works:

  1. Group therapy provides a sense of normalization. Being in a group setting offers an opportunity for teens to see that what they are experiencing and feeling is actually quite normal. As the comfort level in the group increases, teens offer positive support to one another and provide a sense of comfort knowing that they are not alone in their experiences and struggles.

  2. Groups are often comprised of teens at various stages in their recovery and healing process. Seeing teens that have implemented skills and experienced therapeutic success serve as a source of hope for those who are just beginning their journey. Seeing peers reach goals provides motivation for increased therapeutic engagement.

  3. Group therapy provides an opportunity for the therapist to see teens in a natural social setting. A trained clinician will observe interactions and use these to set treatment goals and provide effective coping skills for particular “real-life” situations.

  4. Teens in group therapy learn new social skills and effective ways to communicate their feelings and experiences. The therapists guiding the group will help model increased emotion identification and expression.

  5. Teens often feel a sense of empowerment as they support their peers. When teens reflect on the group content and provide feedback to the group, they are able to internalize their own messages and use them for personal growth.

If you are interested in group therapy for your teen, please check the KS Services website for our upcoming group therapy event registration for Project CONNECT. Project CONNECT is a group designed to help girls focus on self-compassion and connection through the use of movement, art, and narrative work. Girls will meet for six weeks on Saturday mornings from 9:30-11:00 am. The first Saturday will be September 10th, and it will run through October 15th.


Parents and caregivers of the teens will commit to meeting three times for a thirty-minute group that will focus on psychoeducation regarding mental health concerns in teens. The parent sessions will occur on September 17th, October 1st, and October 8th immediately following the teen group session.


If you are curious if a group is a good fit for your adolescent, please reach out to counseling@keystoneservices.biz for a free consultation.


Laura Waller, MS, NCC

Licensed Resident in Counseling

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