What is Outpatient Group Therapy, and How Can it Work for my Family?

Group of men and women sitting around in a circle having a discussion

Outpatient group or family therapy is one approach to treating mental health concerns that can have an impact on entire families, more than just the individual.

If I am already in therapy, why does my family have to join too?

Family dynamics play an important role in emotional and mental health, and our experiences often reverberate at a familial level. Say, for example, you have just begun seeking treatment for substance addiction. Before beginning treatment, your family was likely affected by your addiction, whether it be your spouse, parents, children or extended family. There have probably been many stressful days and painful nights. Although you are seeking individual treatment for your addiction, your family needs to find a way to cope with the secondhand effects of having a loved one deal with substance addiction. 

Substance addiction isn’t the only instance where family counseling is beneficial. Perhaps a child is in individual therapy with a youth specialist to address outbursts of anger, wetting the bed or other behavioral issues. Additional family counseling sessions give the family the chance to discuss why these issues might be occurring with the expertise of a therapist. They can examine when the problems started and whether any significant or traumatic events may have resulted. The therapist can also ask the family guiding questions to foster open communication and create a comfortable and welcoming environment in which to discuss any issues.

Remember that outpatient group therapy doesn’t necessarily need to include your entire family. Rather, you can also seek group therapy with others in recovery who may be familiar with your situation or can at least understand why you are seeking treatment. This can include group therapy or support sessions for those in addiction treatment, trauma-focused treatment or mental health treatment.

How can my family benefit from group therapy?

Outpatient group therapy, particularly family therapy, has distinct benefits from individual counseling. It provides a unique opportunity for families to safely address issues that have collectively afflicted them. This will eventually bolster communication skills that can live on after outpatient therapy has ended.

Family counseling can also help entire families cope when one member of the family has been diagnosed with a mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. While an individual may seek counseling on their own as part of their treatment plan, their families can also benefit from group therapy to discuss the effects their loved one’s illness has had on the whole family. A family counselor can suggest methods for acting as a support system for their loved one, and coping mechanisms for days that seem especially tough for the family.

What kinds of questions should my family ask when choosing an outpatient group therapy program?

For outpatient group therapy to be effective, the entire family must feel comfortable with their counselor and the group they are in therapy with. Feel free to approach a few different counselors or group therapies and ask questions to ensure it is the right place for you:

-Who will be in my family’s group therapy session? Do you offer individual family counseling or only multi-family counseling?

-What is your approach to family counseling?

-Do you encourage each family member to seek therapy individually?

-What can I expect in outpatient family therapy?

-What are we expected to talk about?

-How can you help us define and achieve our family therapy goals?

-What do you specialize in? Are you familiar with our specific challenge?

-Do you think outpatient group therapy is the best approach for our family?

-What will our family get out of outpatient group therapy?

-I’m nervous to talk about these issues with my family. Can you help with that?

Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare is here for you and your family as you begin recovery. Call today at (678)-274-4936 to find out what type of outpatient group therapy would work best for you.

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