Does Your School Offer Group Therapy for Teens?

Students that have trouble at school may benefit from group therapy. It may help students to vent their anxiety and frustrations to peers that can relate to them. Group therapy allows students to obtain support from their peers about issues such as family, solutions for troubled relationships, navigating through the school year, and dealing with stress and anxiety in a supporting manner. Having other students to connect to and relate to may help students with a variety of issues.

While most people are familiar with individual therapy, not quite as many are familiar with the benefits of group therapy sessions. The reason these prove to be an effective measure, especially among teenagers, is due to the fact that it allows a group of people to meet on common ground. They struggle with similar issues, making it easier to connect and relate while reinforcing that they’re not alone. Let’s take a further look at what group therapy is and what the benefits are.

What is Group Therapy?

Group therapy is an experience where a group of people with shared commonalities can discuss their struggles in a shared space. These sessions are led by a mental health professional. Students that have trouble at school may benefit from group therapy. It may help students to vent their anxiety and frustrations to peers that can relate to them. Group therapy allows students to obtain support from their peers about issues such as family, solutions for troubled relationships, navigating through the school year, and dealing with stress and anxiety in a supporting manner. Having other students to connect to and relate to may help students with a variety of issues.

Group therapy may not be covered by a student’s IEP or 504 plan, which can present difficulties for therapists that are attempting to construct a therapy group. Certain students may be able to attend group therapy according to their IEP, and therapists can construct group meetings around student study halls or periods of inactivity during the school day. Group therapy sessions at school can be scheduled before or after school for students that may benefit from a group environment.

Why is Group Therapy Important for Teens?

Group therapy sessions work well with teens because it provides a space where they can safely discuss what they are processing through. Allowing teenagers to process through their emotions is a safe and professional setting presents the opportunity to grow emotionally and mentally. This ultimately results in their ability to grow in self-confidence, security, relationships and communication skills. It’s important to allow teenagers to process through these emotions so that they have the opportunity to grow amongst community rather than isolate themselves. Knowing that they have a safe space to turn to in the midst of what they’re facing tells them that they’re not alone and normalizes their ability to open up to people.

How Effective is Group Therapy?

Students with depression can benefit from interaction with a social group not connected to their usual social group, and group therapy may help students with social anxiety to practice eye contact and clear speaking in a social situation, as well as allowing the student to assess their potential triggers in a safe environment. Students can also have benefits such as increased self confidence, less anxiety overall, and elevated mood. Students may be able to benefit from boosted grades as a result of group therapy, due to the increased sense of self and organizational skills that students can learn in group therapy.

What are the Benefits of Group Therapy for Teens?

Group therapy in schools that have meetings before school presents a variety of potential benefits. Students can talk over their worries or stresses for the day to their peers, help one another further organize for classes, and discuss issues which may be causing them problems during the week. After school therapy groups also present different benefits for students that prefer to meet their therapy group in the afternoon. These students have the option to discuss how their day went with their peers, upcoming homework assignments, or their plans for the evening. Therapy groups can be beneficial to students in allowing them to de-stress and assess their feelings before or after a school day. Here are a few more of the benefits that come along with group therapy:

Effective Peer Influence

Being in an environment where students are amongst peers who are improving themselves, help them to develop healthier ways of relating, help them not to feel so alone and can be an overall positive influence on one another. This can help overcome self-doubt and can increase social communication and confidence.

Reduced Stress

Social and academic affects students differently which can certainly lead to various stress levels. By gathering within a group with commonalities, students are provided an outlet to voice their struggles amongst a group who understands. This can lead to receiving support and advice from peers who are walking through or have walked through similar situations. Being able to receive advice and connect well with people who understand can help to face difficulties from a new perspective.

Forming Relationships

Walking through various hardships can certainly make someone feel isolated and alone. Especially with the pressures of high school settings, students may feel like they can’t relate to anyone. However, group therapy provides the opportunity to connect with other individuals who can be walking through the same or similar things. This can help students feel understood and supported. Sharing vulnerabilities can create connection, trust and understanding with one another leading to developed friendships.

Improved Self-Esteem

While it may take time, students develop a sense of comfort and confidence through opening up and processing through their emotions. Mental health specialists can offer ways to support students that will allow them to process things in a health and productive manner. While this may begin in therapy settings, students will eventually learn to apply therapy techniques to real life settings. When they are able to navigate those situations using the strategies suggested by their mental health specialist, they will find that overtime they are able to apply techniques without having to consciously walk through it.

Group Therapy Activities for Teens

Group therapy activities can encourage conversation, understanding and bonding between both peers and therapists. Some of these group therapy exercises can include the following:

  • Gratitude mapping
  • Goal visualization
  • Group Writing Exercises
  • Group Meditation

Each of these activities can help not only as ice breakers for adolescent therapy groups but to help on an individual level as well. Students can apply various practices to find relief from what they’re facing in academic or social settings. These group therapy activities help students to make new choices that contribute towards overall mental health.

Final Thoughts on Group Therapy for Teens

Therapists can organize group therapy sessions based on student availability, and base group meeting times on what works best for both students and their schedule. Students that have IEPs that allow therapy can be scheduled throughout the day as time allows. Group therapy for teens can help in a variety of ways, and the benefits can be felt for students long after therapy sessions have ended. Students can see decreased anxiety, and a variety of other skill increases both in and out of the classroom.Virtual school therapy jobs are also available that will allow you to extend your reach across the country to help students.

One comment so far - what can you add?

  1. I am a licensed clinical psychologist (Psy 6501) veteran, and worked with youth in an alternative school in Santa Rosa as the Director for several years. I live in Santa Rosa
    also worked as a Peace Officer.

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