Group therapy for teens is a well-established practice within the psychological counseling community, proven to work in those cases where traditional approaches often fail. Teenagers are often hesitant to engage in traditional talk therapy but group work helps overcome their objections. This approach is particularly effective for girls and young women, who are highly likely to derive significant benefit from interacting with their peers in a therapeutic environment.
Why Group Intervention Works Well for Teenagers
Traditional one-on-one talk therapy is notoriously ineffective for young people, particularly as a stand-alone service. An inherent distrust in adults, combined with a fear of the established system, often results in a flat refusal to participate in this type of intervention. It is not uncommon for teens to sit, sulking in silence, for the entire session, offering little more than a series of grunts that indicate agreement or dissent. Put that same surly teenager in a group of other teens who are sharing stories of their own struggles and he or she becomes much more willing to open up. Even if the facilitator is the same untrusted adult, the group is usually willing to overcome their hesitations in order to develop a support system.
How Group Therapy Works
Topics that are most often addressed in this manner include alcohol or drug use and addiction, depression, anxiety, anger, eating disorders, trauma and abuse. The purpose of this therapeutic intervention, beyond getting teens to open up about their problem, is multi-faceted. Participants develop a strong support system amongst themselves and it is not unusual for the friendships that grow to last a lifetime. Young people learn ways of improving their social skills and develop effective coping skills that they learn from each other and from the group’s leaders. They understand that they aren’t alone in their struggle and come to understand a more global perspective of their own challenges. This broader view, coupled with the realization that they’re not alone, starts them on the road to recovery. Although their fight won’t be easy, teens become more willing to do the necessary work in a group setting.
Therapeutic Groups for Girls
The foundations of group counseling as a successful intervention strategy lie with women’s groups. The benefits of group intervention extend to all patient profiles but the most impressive results occur when the participants are female. In what remains a patriarchal society, women and girls are often marginalized. Providing a safe space where girls and young women can share their struggles allows them to develop support systems. Girls who have experienced trauma, abuse or other manifestations of mental illness tend to develop a victim mentality that prevents them from achieving recovery. Group interventions are particularly effective at helping them shed the mantle of the victim, empowering them to discover a new identity, develop confidence and pursue an aggressive course of improvement.
Havenwood Academy has pioneered a variety of successful intervention strategies designed to assist girls and young women in overcoming mental and emotional problems. Their trained professional counselors understand the value of group therapy for teens and use this approach to help young women achieve success.