Dr. Stacey Rosenfeld is a licensed psychologist, certified group psychotherapist, certified eating disorder specialist, and the author of “Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation’s Fixation with Food and Weight”. Her work also focuses on substance use disorders, anxiety and mood disorders, fertility challenges, relationship concerns, and sport and exercise psychology. In addition to directing Gatewell Therapy Center in Miami, she is a co-occurring (eating disorders and substance use disorders) consultant at Oliver-Pyatt Centers. Dr. Rosenfeld works with individuals, couples, families, and groups, using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical-behavioral therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, and motivational interviewing approaches. In this week’s post, Dr. Rosenfeld shares the benefits of group therapy.
Why would you want to sit in a room with complete strangers learning about their struggles and being encouraged to reveal your own?
It might be daunting to consider group therapy when even the notion of individual therapy might be overwhelming or when you think that being in group might not allow you sufficient time and space to process your concerns.
But what if you learned that group therapy is just as effective as individual therapy – for treating a wide range of symptoms – and that group participation offers a unique therapeutic advantage? For instance, group therapy provides a venue where you can learn from your peers and receive their feedback and support. It’s one thing to discuss strategies with a therapist regarding how to target a specific difficulty and another to hear from someone who has successfully overcome this same difficulty. Being among peers might also provide an additional layer of support, as you recognize that you’re not the only one who struggles in certain ways. The universality of experience should not be underestimated. Moreover, as we bravely reveal ourselves in group, we directly challenge some of the vulnerabilities and shame that might be holding us back.
For those who are looking to improve how they communicate with and relate to others, group provides the perfect “laboratory” in which to try out new ways of interacting. Interested in becoming more assertive or setting firm boundaries with others? How about managing anger and conflict more effectively? Your individual therapist can address these issues with you as you bring content into your sessions, but it’s a whole other ballgame when your group therapist is able to witness how these dynamics unfold in real time. She can use information from group to help you establish more effective interpersonal patterns in “real life.”
Not sold yet? Group therapy offers a cost-effective alternative to individual therapy, and group treatment allows access to a larger population of individuals, who might not otherwise receive care.
Check out Dr. Rosenfeld’s interview on group therapy with ABC News:
This blog originally published on Gatewell Therapy Center.