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Group Psychotherapy

What is group psychotherapy?
How does group psychotherapy work?
What issues are addressed in group therapy sessions?
What are some of the issues addressed for college women?
What is your role as a participant?
Is group therapy effective?

What is group psychotherapy?

Group psychotherapy, also known as group therapy, is a tool used to aid people in coping with problems or difficulties that they experience. As the name indicates, this sort of therapy consists of a group of people with similar issues, as well as one or two therapists. At group sessions, members discuss their connection with the problems and ways in which they are coping. Group therapy aims to assist with emotional difficulties that arise from the issues discussed by emphasizing and promoting interpersonal relationships through the group dynamics. [1]

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How does group therapy work?

Participants of the group share with each other their thoughts and feelings regarding the issues discussed. Other members of the group respond with their own comments, criticism, support, thoughts, and beliefs. In most instances, the leader (therapist) does not determine the subjects discussed, but rather facilitates the discussion so that everyone participates and feels a part of the group. With the weekly meetings, members of the group will feel that they are not alone with this situation. In such a way will a sense of camaraderie, support, and trust develop with and among the group members. [2]

There are usually about 8 to 12 members in a group. A group over 15 will face some difficulty enabling everyone to feel comfortable talking and fostering a positive, helpful atmosphere. Some groups meet once a week, others twice a week; each meeting ranges from an hour to three hours, depending on the issue and the amount of time discussion occurs. Group therapies can extend from a few months to several years, once again depending on the problems and the goal of the group sessions. It is a good idea to allow for 4 to 6 months to pass in order to understand and appreciate the group sessions. [3]

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What issues are addressed in group therapy sessions?

There are a number of issues and factors that are addressed in various group therapies. Group therapy sessions are for people who wish to deepen their skills for interpersonal relationships, as well as for people who experience emotional difficulties, such as anxiety, depression, etc. although there are some support groups specifically designed for particular crises, such as physically abused women or parents of kidnapped children. Therapists try to create heterogeneous groups in order to mirror the actual makeup of the surrounding environment. [4]

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What are some of the issues addressed for college women?
There are a number of issues discussed. Of particular benefit to college women are group therapies aimed at women who have divorced parents, who have a sibling with a problem, who are international students, who are dealing with the stresses of a pre-health program, who have an eating disorder, or who are grieving for a recent loss. Of course, other issues can be addressed. If you would like to find group therapy for your specific situation, please see your doctor or health center for more information. In addition, you can look at the map for support groups in your area. [5]

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What is your role as a participant?

As a participant, you are expected to show up to each of your meetings on time. Additionally, it is important to keep the information and issues discussed in the group sessions confidential. In some cases, participants are asked to commit for a particular amount of time, usually 3-6 months, in order to get a sense of how the group works. Although you are allowed to decline from talking in group therapy, it is not recommended, the more openly you discuss your thoughts and feelings regarding your personal issues, the more you will get out of the experience of group therapy. [6]

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Is group therapy effective?

It depends on the condition group therapy and social support is particularly helpful for people with substance abuse, medical conditions, and families of people with mental disorders. Studies have not found it to be an effective sole therapy for major mental illnesses.

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[1] Adapted from Group Psychotherapy: An Introduction (
[2] Adapted from Health Center: Group Therapy (
[3] Adapted from Group Psychotherapy: An Introduction and Rutgers College Counseling Center (
[4] Adapted from Group Psychotherapy: An Introduction
[5] Adapted from the discussion with Roberta Caplan, psychologist, 11/14/01.
[6] Adapted from Group Psychoherapy: An Introduction
[7] (see below for footnote) Adapted from Group Psychotherapy: Selected Bibliography ( BOOKS)

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American Psychological Association
American Group Psychotherapy Association
Hans Weinbergís Group Psychotherapy Resource Guider and Home of the Group Psychotherapy Online Discussion List
Rutgers, State University of New Jersey
Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Center
Barnard Counseling Group
Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy, by John R. Cook, Ph.D.
Atlanta Center for Eating Disorders
The International Association of Group Psychotherapy
Group Psychotherapy Association of Southern California

Books and Articles [7]

Agazarian, Y.M. (1997), System-Centered Therapy for Groups, Guilford Press.

Alonso, A., & Swiller, H.I. (1992), Group Therapy in Clinical Practice, American Psychiatric Press.

Bennis, W.G. & Shepherd, H.A. (1956), A Theory of Group Development. Human Relations, 9, 415-437.

Berman, A., & Weinberg, H. (1998), The advanced-stage therapy group. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 39 (4), 523-530.

Bernard, S., & MacKenzie, K.R. (eds.) (1999), Basics of Group Psychotherapy, Guilford Press.

Bernard, H., & West, K. (eds.) (1993), Special Issue: The Large Group, Group, 17 (4).

Blatner, A. (1996), Acting-In: Practical Applications of Psychodramatic Methods (3rd ed.), N.Y.: Springer.

Blatner, A. (2000), Foundations of Psychodrama: History, Theory & Practice (4th ed.), N.Y.: Springer.

Bion, W.R. (1959), Experiences in Groups and Other Papers, N.Y.: Basic Books.

Brabender, V., & Fallon, A. (1993), Models of Inpatient Group Psychotherapy, Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Butler, S., & Wintram, C. (1991), Feminist Groupwork, London: Sage Pub.

Campbell, J. (1986), A Survivor Group for Battered Women. Advances in Nursing Science, 8, 13-20.

Coche, J., & Coche, E. (1990), Couples Group Psychotherapy: A Clinical Practice Model, N.Y.: Brunner/Mazel.

Conlon, I. (1991), The Effect of Gender on the Role of the Female Group Conductor, Group-Analysis, 24, 187-200.

Conyne, R.K. (1999), Failures in Group Work: How Can We Learn from our Mistakes, London: Sage Pub.

Corey, M. & Corey, G. (1996), Groups: Process & Practice (5th ed.), Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Cramer-Azima, F., & Richmond, L.H. (ed.), Adolescent Group Psychotherapy (monograph), American Group Psychotherapy Association.

DeChant, B. (ed.) (1996), Women and Group Psychotherapy, N.Y.: Guilford Press.

DeMare, P., Piper, R., and Thompson, S. (1991), Kiononia: From hate, through dialogue to culture in the large group, London: Karnac.

Dick, B., Lesller, K., & Whiteside, J. (1980), A Developmental Framework for Co-therapy, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 30 (3), 64-76.

Dies, R.R. (1985), Leadership in short-term group therapy: manipulation or facilitation?, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 35, 435-455.

Dies, R.R., & MacKenzie, K.R. (1983), Advances in Group Psychotherapy: Integrating Research and Practice, N.Y.: International University Press.

Donaldson, M., & Cordes-Green, S. (1994), Group Treatment of Adult Incest Survivors, Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Fehr, S.S. (1999), Introduction to Group Therapy: A Practical Guide, N.Y.: Haworth Press.

Flores, P.J. (1996), Group Psychotherapy with Addicted Populations (2nd ed.), N.Y.: Haworth Press.

Finn, J. (1985), Menís Domestic Violence Treatment Groups, Social Work with Groups, 8 (3).

Foulkes, S.H., & Anthony, E.J. (1965), Group Psychotherapy: The Psychoanalytic Approach, London: Penguin Books.

Gans, J., and Alonso, A. (1998), Difficult Patients: Their Construction in Group Therapy, International Journal of Psychotherapy, 48 (3).

Garvin, C., & Glover, R.B. (1983), Gender Issues in Social Group Work: An Overview, Social Work with Groups, 6 (1), 5-18.

Gazda, G.M. (1989), Group Counseling: A Developmental Approach (4th ed.), Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Greene, L.R., & Johnson, D.R. (1987), Leadership and structuring of the large group, International Journal of Therapeutic Communities 8: 99-108.

Grotsky, Camerer & Damiano (2000), Group Work with Sexually Abused Children: A Practitionersí Guide, Sage Publications.

Grusznski, R.J., Brink, J.C., & Edleson, J.L. (1988), Support and Education Groups for Children of Battered Women, Child Welfare, 68, 431-444.

Halperin, D.A., & Kymissis, P. (1966), Group Therapy with Children and Adolescents, Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.

Harper-Guiffre, H., & MacKenzie, K.R. (eds.) (1992), Group Psychotherapy for Eating Disorders, American Psychiatric Press.

Hartman, S. (1987), Therapeutic Self Help Groups: A Process of Empowerment for Women in Abusive Relationships. In Women's Therapy Groups, C. Broody (ed.), NY: Springer, 67-81.

Harwood, I.H. (1983), The Application of Self-Psychology Concept to Group-Psychotherapy, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 33 (4), 469-486.

Harwood, I., and Pines, M. (eds.) (1998), Self Experiences in Groups: Intersubjectivity and Self Psychological Pathways to Self Understanding, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Hoffman, S., et al. (1995), Cotherapy with Individuals, Families and Groups, Jason Aronson.

Holmes, P., Karp, M., & Watson, M. (1994), Psychodrama Since Moreno, N.Y., London: Routledge.

Howe, M.C., & Schwartzberg, S.L. (1995), A Functional Approach to Group Work in Occupational Therapy (2nd ed.), Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.

Lesi, J.J., & Hearn, K. (1984), Group Treatment of Children in Shelters for Battered Women. In Battered Women and Their Families, A.R. Roberts (ed.), N.Y.: Springer, 49-61.

Kaplan, H., & Sadock, B. (eds.) (1993) Comprehensive Group Psychotherapy (3rd ed.), Baltimore: Williams & Welkins.

Kellerman, P.F. (1992), Focus On Psychodrama: The Therapeutic Aspects of Psychodrama. London: Kingsley Publishers.

Kellermann, P.F., & Hudgins, K. (eds.) (2000), Psychodrama and Trauma: Acting Out Your Pain, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Klein, R.H. (1985), Some principles of short-term group therapy, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 35:309-329.

Kipper, D.A. (1986), Psychotherapy Through Clinical Role Playing, N.Y.: Brunner/Mazel.

Kotani, H. (1999), Aspects of Intrapsychic, Interpersonal and Cross Cultural Dynamics in Japanese Group Psychotherapy, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 49 (1), 93-104.

Kreeger, L. (ed.) (1975), The Large Group: Dynamics & Therapy, London: Constable.

Lakin, M. (1991), Some Ethical Issues in Feminist-Oriented Therapeutic Groups for Women, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 41 (2), 199-215.

Leszcz, M. (ed.) (1998), Special Issue: Group Psychotherapy for the Medically Ill, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 48 (2).

Leveton, E. (1992), A Clinicianís Guide to Psychodrama (2nd ed.), N.Y.: Springer.

Lieberman, M.A., Yalom, I.D., & Miles, M.B. (1973), Encounter Groups: First Facts, N.Y.: Basic Books.

MacKenzie, K.R. (1997), Time-Managed Group Psychotherapy, American Psychiatric Press.

MacKenzie, K.R., & Livesley, W.J. (1983), A Developmental Model for Brief Group Therapy. In Advances in Group Psychotherapy, Dies, R.R., & MacKenzie, K.R.

McKay, M., & Paleg, K. (eds.) (1992), Focal Group Psychotherapy, New Harbinger Publications.

Moreno, J.L. (1978), Who Shall Survive? (3rd ed.), N.Y.: Beacon.

Moreno, Z.T., Blomkvist, L.D., & Rutzel, T. (2000), Psychodrama Surplus Reality and the Art of Healing, London: Routledge Publishers.

Neri, C. (1998), Group, London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Nitsun, M. (1996), The Anti-Group: Destructive Forces in the Group and Their Creative Potential, Routledge.

Ormont, L.R. (1992), The Group Therapy Experience, N.Y.: St. Martinís Press.

Ormont, L. (1993), Resolving Resistances to Immediacy in the Group Setting, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 43 (4), 399-418.

Paulson, I., Burroughs, J., & Gelb, C. (1976), Cotherapy: What is the Crux of the Relationship?, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 26 (2), 213-224.

Peled, E., & Davis, D. (1995), Groupwork with Children of Battered Women, London: Sage Publications.

Pines, M., & Schermer, V.L. (eds.) (1994), Ring of Fire: Primitive Affects and Object Relations in Group Psychotherapy, Routledge.

Piper, W.E., & Bernard, H.S. (eds. (1999), Special Issue: Group Supervision of Group Psychotherapy, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 49 (2).

Piper, W.E., & Klein, R.H. (eds.) (1996), Special Issue: Termination in Group Therapy, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 46 (1).

Roller, W., & Nelson, V. (1991), The Art of Co-Therapy, N.Y.: Guilford Press.

Rogers, C.R. (1970), On Encounter Groups, N.Y.: Harper & Row.

Rose, S.R. (1998), Group Work with Children and Adolescents: Prevention and Intervention in School and Community Systems, London: Sage Publications.

Rosenbaum, M. (1996), Handbook of Short-Term Therapy Groups, Jason Aronson Pub.

Rosenthal, L. (1996), Resolving Resistances in Group Psychotherapy, N.Y.: Jason Aronson.

Roth, B.E., Kibel, H.D., & Stone, W.N. (eds.), (1990), The Difficult Patient in Group: Group Psychotherapy with Borderline and Narcissistic Disorders, Madison, CT: International Universities Press.

Rounsaville, B., Lifton, N. & Bieber, M. (1979), The Natural History of a Psychotherapy Group for Battered Women, Psychiatry, 42, 63-78.

Rutan, S.J., & Stone, N.W. (2000), Psychodynamic Group Psychotherapy (3rd ed.), N.Y.: Guilford Press.

Salvendy, J. (1999), Ethnocultural Considerations in Group Psychotherapy, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 49 (4), 429-464.

Saravay, S.M. (1978), A Psychoanalytic Theory of Group Development, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 28, 481-507.

Schacht, A.J., Kerlinsky, D., & Carlson, C. (1990), Group Therapy with Sexually Abused Boys: Leadership, Projective Identification and Countertransference Issues, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 40, 401-417.

Schwartzman, G. (1984), The Use of the Group as a Self-Object, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 34 (2), 229-241.

Scheidlinger, S. (1997) Group Dynamics and Group Psychotherapy Revisited: Four Decades Later, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, July 1997, Guilford Press, 141-159.

Schneider, S., & Berman, M. (1991), The Supervision Group as a Transitional Object, Group Analysis, 24:65-72.

Sciacca, K. (1991), An Integrated Treatment Approach for Severely Mentally Ill Individuals with Substance Disorders, New Directions for Mental Health Services, No. 50, Summer 1991: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Shapiro, J.L., Peltz, L.S. & Bernadett-Shapiro, S.T. (1998), Brief Group Treatment: Practical Training for Therapists and Counselors, ITP Brooks/Cole.

Spira, J.L. (ed.) (1997), Group Therapy for Medically Ill Patients, N.Y.: Guilford Press.

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Stone, W.N. (1996), Group Psychotherapy for People with Chronic Mental Illness, Guilford Press.

Stone, W.N., & Whitman, R.M. (1977), Contributions of the Psychology of the Self to Group Process and Group Therapy, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 27 (3), 343-359.

Tomasulo, D.J. (1997), Beginning and Maintaining a Group, The Habilitative Mental Healthcare Newsletter, May/June 1997, vol. 16, no. 3.

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Yalom, I. (1983), Inpatient Group-psychotherapy, N.Y.: Basic Books.

Yalom, I.D. (1994), The Theory & Practice of Group Psychotherapy (4th ed.), N.Y.: Basic Books.


Janoff, S., Kobernick, A., & Agazarian, Y. (1993), System-Centered Psychotherapy, Philadelphgia: Blue Sky Productions.

Nelson, V., & Roller, B. (1997), The Promise of Group Therapy: A live-to-tape demonstration of time-limited therapy, San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Yalom, I.D. (1991), Understanding Group Psychotherapy.


The American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama
301 N. Harrison St. Suite 508
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: (609) 452-1339
Fax: (609) 936-1659

Association for Specialists in Group Work
American Counseling Association
5999 Stevenson Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22304

Center for the Study of Work Teams
University of North Texas
P. O. Box 311280
Denton, TX 76203-1280
Phone: (940) 565-3096
Fax: (940) 565-4806

The Process Work Center
2049 NW Hoyt St.
Portland, OR 97209
Phone: (503) 223-8188
Fax: (503) 227-7003

Group Analysis North
78 Manchester Road
Swinton, Manchester M27 5FG
Telephone/Fax: 0161 728 1633

American Group Psychotherapy Association
25 East 21st Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10010
Toll Free: 877-668-AGPA (2472)
Phone: (212) 477-2677
Fax: (212) 979-6627

The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
901 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 901
Washington, D.C. 20006-3405
Phone: (202) 223-5100
Fax: (202) 223-5555

The Washington-Baltimore Center of the A.K. Rice Institute for the Study of Group Relations
1715 N Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 887-8955
Fax: (202) 833-9177

Center for the Study of Group Processes
Department of Sociology
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242-1401
Phone: (319) 335-2503
Fax: (319) 335-2509

Director's Office
Research Center for Group Dynamics
Institute for Social Research
426 Thompson Street
P. O. Box 1248
Ann Arbor, MI 48106
Phone: (734) 764-8360

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