Are Group Counseling Activities Beneficial?

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry, LMSW, J.D.
Updated July 13, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Group counseling often involves a group selection of individuals who may wish to explore their own experiences while learning from and offering support to others who have had similar experiences. Groups may be formed of group members based on a specific symptom, concern, or mental health condition. In some cases, people may come together for group therapy to learn a specific treatment modality like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). 

Group therapy sessions often involve activities designed to address various group member concerns, including self-esteem, coping, relationships, trauma, or substance use. It may be combined with standard individual therapy or medication management through other providers as part of a complete treatment plan.

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What Happens In Group Therapy?

During in person group therapy, you may sit in a circle with other adults who are experiencing the same situation or are facing similar challenges. Your therapy session includes prompts designed to practice thinking in different ways. Below are a few aspects you might expect as pros and cons of group therapy.

Before Joining A Group  

You may have an introductory screening session with the group facilitator when directed to a group for therapy. When you meet, they may take a few moments to explain the goals and norms of the specific group therapy activities and discuss your personal goals in as much detail as possible to ensure you fit the group goals and treatment method. 

If it is determined that another group setting may be a better fit, you may go through a similar process with another provider. 

Sometimes, a group therapy facilitator may recommend other mental health treatments before a client enters a therapy group. For example, they might ask you to work through specific activities at home with your family or kids or continue sessions with your individual therapist before deciding on a group session. 

Group Activities 

A group therapy session may encourage members to engage in a group therapy activity. Some group therapy activities may be more educational, with a facilitator providing a topic or skill for the day the group can learn about. For example, in DBT or RO-DBT, participants may learn new skills from a workbook and group facilitator with structured discussions. They might also be assigned homework to talk about at the next session. 

Some group therapy activities are more process-oriented, meaning there may be less structure. The group participants might discuss any vital topic they feel is valuable or applicable. Both these group structures could have therapeutic benefits, as both formats can offer opportunities in a supportive environment for you to talk about your experiences with others and hear other perspectives. Hearing positive messages and positive responses from other group members can help improve self-doubt and reinforce that you are a good person.

While your group therapist may assign a fun group activity, many people might not feel initial comfort when talking in a group setting. Talking about personal subjects with strangers can be challenging. You may feel comfort in the fact that everyone in the group may feel some discomfort initially during a group activity. Group therapy activities may work best when you actively participate and are honest during your experience. Try to give feedback to yourself and others, and experiment with the topics addressed, you may write down questions that you have as another person is speaking to actively engage in the conversation. 

Goal Setting 

Goal setting in group therapy for self-care may improve your self-esteem and keep your mental health at the center of your treatment. Even when participating in group therapy activities in a larger group, you may still gain the rewards of a personalized approach by ensuring you are focused on your needs. For example, your therapist may ask you to write three qualities that make a good family member or friend, during the process the therapist may write responses on a large paper for the group to see. This allows you and other members to see discuss these topics in more depth.


Are Group Activities Effective?

Group activities done through group psychotherapy can be effective and beneficial, depending on the type of activity, participants, and therapy modality. The APA states that one benefit of group therapy can be the diversity of the personalities, cultures, and ideas of the participants. Learning more about others may help you further understand yourself. 

A therapy group can provide a supportive environment to address your emotions and thoughts. 

A person who experiences isolation may positively respond to groups as a way to connect with others. Humans are social creatures, and it can be healing to work through your problems in the presence of others and support people experiencing similar concerns. It may be a validating experience to feel that you are not alone with your concerns and that another person relates to you. A group setting can provide a unique opportunity for connection and community.

Group activities can allow you a structured or creative way to express yourself and see how others express themselves. For example, in a group where you create art with others, you may notice that another participant perceived the assignment differently than you and that both of your art projects can be meaningful and unique. You may also learn new ways to problem-solve or discuss conflict by hearing how others work with their challenges in first person.

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How Can Group Counseling Activities Help?

Group therapy activities may improve various skills, including learning to be a more effective and comfortable communicator. Often, participants learn about their feelings when examining another person by seeing their feelings reflected. Group therapy can also be an ideal time to get safe feedback from others without judgment and it is a good time to see that everyone makes mistakes or faces challenges. 

Counseling Options 

If you’re interested in trying a therapy group, look online for available groups. You might also find support groups for specific topics. However, therapy groups differ from support groups in that they are often more structured and are led by a licensed mental health professional or therapist. 

If you’re looking for individual counseling before you work with a group or in combination with group therapy, you can also find an individual counselor through an online search. For those who face common barriers to treatment, such as cost, distance, or availability, reaching out to an online counselor through a platform like BetterHelp may be beneficial. 

Clinical studies have demonstrated that online therapy is as effective as in-person therapy. Various factors may explain the modality’s effectiveness. For example, online therapy is often cheaper, more accessible, and more convenient.  When signing up for an internet-based platform, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions with your licensed therapist. 


Group therapy can offer individuals a chance to learn more about their mental health, symptoms, and concerns while interacting with others experiencing similar concerns. Many forms of group therapy are available, and you might partake in various activities. If you’re interested in learning more, search online to find therapy groups near you. 

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