When you struggle with anxiety, opening up and being vulnerable with even one person often feels unbearable. It may have taken every ounce of strength you have to seek individual therapy. So the idea of involving yourself in a therapy group for anxiety and sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings with 7 or 8 complete strangers?? Forget about it. Not happening. Right? It’s tempting to think that group therapy is just not for you (for so many, many reasons). It may trigger anxiety just thinking about it. But group therapy is actually a very powerful resource for anyone struggling with anxiety.
Consider group therapy if you are struggling with anxiety and seeking mental health support. Our team of anxiety therapists in Simi Valley is here to help you find the right mental health care for your unique needs. To learn more or schedule a session, call Simi Psychological Group at (805) 842-1994.
First and foremost, group therapy helps you understand that you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders can be debilitating. Sufferers often feel incredibly isolated, and may even experience shame about the fact that they struggle with their anxious thoughts and feelings. It’s so easy to ask those damning questions…“What’s wrong with me?” “Why can’t I handle this?” “Am I the only one who feels this way?” Group therapy for anxiety addresses those nagging fears; it lessens the sense of isolation and helps alleviate shame. Knowing that you aren’t alone, that you aren’t the only one struggling in this way, and that others truly do understand what you’re going through is both validating and empowering. Within the therapy group, you’re able to connect with others who can relate firsthand to your experiences. Your pain is also their pain. They get it. And suddenly you feel a little less alone in the world.
In addition to the support of other group members, you’ve got professional backup. Therapy groups are facilitated by a mental health professional (or sometimes co-facilitated by two professionals). It’s their job to create a safe space emotionally, maintain the integrity of the group, and provide structure. The facilitator may suggest a specific topic or theme related to anxiety, such as how to manage certain events, triggers, or ongoing stressors, or may simply leave things open for group members to discuss what’s on their minds. The group facilitator brings professional expertise to the table as group members share thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This combination of both professional and peer support within the group setting is an incredible opportunity on multiple levels.
Group therapy allows you to practice real-life scenarios within the context of a safe environment. It allows you to engage with others, giving and receiving feedback, support, and encouragement, as you and your group anxiety therapist work through role-play or real-world processing events. In group therapy, you serve as a resource for others, and they for you. Sharing thoughts and feelings openly, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and witnessing vulnerability in others is a transforming experience. It’s a mutually beneficial way to learn about yourself, build insight and awareness, and develop healthier coping skills while helping others in the group do the same.
And because group therapy calls for this level of interaction and engagement, it’s also an opportunity to improve social skills. Anxiety in the real world sometimes hinders social interaction. It’s easier to avoid than to be uncomfortable. How often have you opted out of an invitation because you just couldn’t face the thought of carrying on a conversation with others? How often have you hidden in the corner rather than engage? Within the therapy group, there’s nowhere to hide. While this may be a terrifying thought, it’s truly an effective way to practice being outside of your comfort zone while surrounded by support. You can talk about your racing thoughts and sweaty palms in real-time, share with the group your sense of dread at having to talk at all, and join the group in leaning into all of this discomfort. After all, they’re feeling it too.
While symptoms of anxiety can be addressed and managed by working with a therapist individually, the benefit of group work for anxiety cannot be ignored. Group therapy, either as a supplemental resource or a stand-alone treatment for anxiety, is an extremely effective way to develop healthier coping skills, experience a decrease in symptoms, and foster an increase in confidence.
If group therapy is something you’ve been considering for your anxiety, contact Simi Psychological Group today. Our group anxiety therapists in Simi Valley are here to help. To learn more, call (805) 842-1994.