Anxiety group therapy describes the practice of helping patients suffering from anxiety disorders in little groups, usually, 6 to 15 people, rather than on a one to one basis with a specialist. It has numerous benefits over seeing a specialist.
Anxiety group therapy can produce a level of calm for the patient in being around like minded individuals who have actually suffered similar anxiety disorders. It can make them understand that they are not alone, that there are others in the exact same circumstance as them.
This can be a life-affirming realization, specifically when the anxiety disorder is related to perceptions of an outsider status, the belief that one is a “freak”, or different, and therefore, inferior to the majority of society.
Anxiety group therapy also has the advantage that the experiences of fellow patients can help to provide solutions to the patient’s issue that a specialist may not have come up with on his or her own. When discovering coping skills, such as those learned through cognitive anxiety therapy, the patient’s peers in the group can offer ideas based on shared experience of a scenario which causes anxiety.
A 3rd advantage of anxiety group treatment over individual therapy is that the social scenario can bring a withdrawn patient out from his or her shell, as the comfort of being in a group setting decreases stress and anxiety, and opens up the patient to discussing objectives, aspirations and possible solutions to the problems that cause the anxiety disorder.
Anxiety group therapy also has some noticable disadvantages over individualized treatment. The “one size fits all” method necessitated by the group setting can limit the ability of a therapist to tailor solutions to a patient’s individual needs. The group setting can also result in a feeling of being lost in the crowd, as there isn’t really always the time to handle each patient’s problems in the depth to which she or he may need.
For these reasons, group anxiety therapy programs are normally run in conjunction with individual sessions with a therapist. Each patient is taken out of the group for a set time daily in order to have one to one counseling with a specialist or certified counselor. There, such topics such as the patient’s medications and issues that cannot be adequately handled in a group setting are talked about. The mix of group and one to one therapy thus ensures that all the patient’s needs are satisfied.