Group therapy is the process in which a therapist compiles a group of people with similar psychological issues in order to discuss these in a group setting. The group dynamic is useful because it can build levels of acceptance, trust and friendship in its members and help eliminate feelings of isolation. This then makes it easier for group members to open up honestly about their lives and perceptions. There are many exercises frequently used in group therapy sessions.
One technique frequently used in group sessions is to have each group member create a mask he feels represents his emotion. These masks can either be sculpted from clay and painted or they can be drawn on the backs of paper plates and colored in. Once the masks are completed, everyone comments on their visceral emotional response to each others' mask and then that is compared with the emotions the creator was trying to convey. This helps group members express emotional turmoil as well as examine the difference in perception amongst them regarding each mask. This tactic is frequently employed in anger management groups.
Role playing is an acting exercise that is frequently used in a group therapy environment. One member of the group can portray someone in another group member's life to give the other member a chance at practicing how to communicate effectively. For example, if a group member is having anger issues with his wife, another group member will portray his wife so he can practice communicating effectively without the angry response. This is also useful if a group member is preparing to confront an abuser, ask for a raise or experience any other conversation of great emotional significance.
Story Writing and Sharing
Another group exercise involves each member writing a story about herself and her life and then reading it aloud for the group to hear and discuss. This is beneficial in drawing out group members who are not as talkative as others in the group. It allows pre-writing to occur, which can make it easier to communicate about difficult issues than it would be in traditional conversation. This allows members to share creativity in addition to thoughts and feelings and this can help to further build rapport.
- Group of business people working together in the office. image by Andrey Kiselev from Fotolia.com