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What are the Different Types of Group Psychotherapy Activities?

By M. Rosario
Updated May 17, 2024
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Group psychotherapy activities are a form of psychoanalytic therapy in which therapeutic exercises are performed by a set of participants. The activities are conducted in a group setting to make it easier for participants to share intimate thoughts and recover from psychological problems, to foster a stronger bond within the group, and to carry out group counseling. A trained facilitator typically presides over the activities and the group therapy. There are different types of group psychotherapy activities. These include icebreakers, trust builders, sharing, and psychodrama.

Being in a group tends to have certain emotional benefits. The environment creates a safe haven within which a participant feels wholly accepted and can expose his or her true feelings without being judged. Additionally, a participant may be more inclined to share his or her thoughts, especially if the other group members share the same problem, such as addiction or phobia.

Icebreakers are group psychotherapy activities that are meant to create a positive atmosphere for the people involved. The activities acquaint the participants and facilitator with each other and help them become more comfortable with sharing during the latter part of the activity. Icebreakers are often conducted at the beginning of the session to help the participants start to interact. For instance, the facilitator may ask the participants to introduce themselves and tell something about themselves that is unique. Afterwards, to further encourage interaction, the group may play a game that scrambles the seating arrangement.

Group psychotherapy activities may include trust building exercises, which create the bonds and mutual respect that can lower emotional barriers. These exercises help the participants to become more receptive and willing to engage in the program. A well-known trust building activity is the “trust fall”. One participant willingly falls backward while the catcher, usually a partner or the rest of the group, breaks the fall.

Sharing exercises are group psychotherapy activities in which the participants talk about their feelings and problems. Facilitators may find themselves challenged when conducting these exercises, as sharing intimate thoughts with other people can be a bit daunting for some participants. This is why it is essential for icebreakers and trust building exercises to be done beforehand. In sharing, the group commonly learns that they all struggle with the same problems. Often, the exchange of similar experiences allows participants to gain new perspectives that help in accepting or treating a condition.

Psychodrama is the name given to therapeutic group activities that are used to indirectly uncover deep seated issues. It can take the form of dramatization, role playing, and games. By using these indirect methods, the facilitator keeps the participant from using emotional defense mechanisms and elicits the underlying cause of the problem. As a result, treatment can then focus on a more specific problem.

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