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Anxiety can make you feel like you’re all alone in your fears. But many people live with this condition every day. Hearing from others who know what it’s like can make you feel less isolated and help you find new ways to deal with nervous feelings. Group therapy is one way to make those connections as part of your treatment.
What a Group Is Like
Group therapy usually includes five to 15 people with a common issue — in this case, anxiety — who meet, usually every week for an hour or so. Yours might be for people with all types of anxiety or for specific types, such as social phobia. Most groups are held in person in a space like a community center or hospital. Others meet online.
A trained therapist will lead the sessions. Your therapist will talk to you and the group and make suggestions about dealing with anxiety. You’ll also talk with other members of the group, who share their experiences and may make suggestions to each other. The goal is to learn about yourself and find new ways to ease your anxious feelings. You might improve your relationships with others, feel more connected, and be more satisfied with your life, too.
Groups that focus on anxiety often use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, a therapist helps you identify negative thoughts (including anxious ones) and replace them with healthier, more realistic ones. Some sessions may include outings or social events.
You may decide to see a therapist on your own and also go to a group, along with using other treatments for anxiety, such as medication.
Finding the Right Group
Before you join, it can help to ask the organizer or therapist running the group these questions:
Is this group open or closed? Can people join at any time, or does everyone begin together and meet for a set period of time (for example, 12 weeks)? Starting together as a closed group may help you get to know the members better, making for good, productive conversations. But with an open group, you can start therapy right away instead of waiting for the next open session.
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