One of the first courses of action recommended for troubled teens is to get them into therapy with a mental health professional that specializes in working with teenagers. However, there is another option that maybe even better for your teen—group therapy.
How Teenage Group Therapy Works
The basics of teen therapy revolve around a group of teens who are overseen by a mental health specialist. In this group, teens can share their struggles and receive support from their peers.
Working in a group can actually be more effective for teens that are just attending individual therapy, as teens can get in their heads. Also, as many troubled teens have struggled with the adult authority figures in their lives, these teenagers can be less inclined to listen to another adult, even one that is trying to help them. In contrast, if a fellow teen is offering support and being open, a troubled teen may be far more receptive.
In fact, a meta-analysis of 56 different studies looking at group therapy treatment for teens found that 73% of the time, group therapy was far more effective than individual treatment and medication.
The exact mechanics of group therapy work with teens will vary by provider. For instance, at a residential treatment center for troubled teens, group therapy is held on a daily basis, sometimes with directed activities to help build up various skills.
Why Choose Group Therapy For Troubled Teens
So, while the numbers back up choosing teen group therapy, let’s take a closer look at how troubled teenagers benefit.
Reduce Feeling Of Isolation
As teenagers have a limited view of the world, they can often fall into the trap of believing that they are the only person—or at least, one of a very few individuals—ever to feel what they feel or go through the teen’s particular experience. These feelings can be incredibly isolating, and many times, teens lack the words to express their inner turmoil.
In group therapy with other young people that are similar in the age of the teen can help open the teenager’s eyes to the fact that they are not alone in their feelings and experiences. This reduction in isolation can also have the effect of allowing the teen to extend greater compassion to others, as it is clear that the teen isn’t alone in undergoing hard things.
Experience Positive Peer Pressure
When it comes to talking about teenagers, peer pressure is usually brought up in a negative context. However, with group therapy, peer pressure can be positive.
For instance, say during a session, a teen struggling with depression commits to finding three things to be grateful for every day for a week. The other teens can help remind the other teen to keep their commitment throughout the week. Knowing that others are expecting them to perform, the teen who made the commitment can be positively pressured to stick with their resolution.
Catch Social Issues As They Happen
Teens who struggle with social issues—such as social anxiety, bullying, isolation—can practice critical social skills while in group therapy. Not only will these social skills be built with other teens, rather than in a theoretical vacuum with just a therapist, but there will also be a therapist present to help guide the group therapy, should things require correction.
Say that a teen that has been trying to break a bullying habit begins to talk down to a fellow teen while in group therapy. The therapist can step in and help point out in real-time where things have gone wrong and what both teens can do to de-escalate the situation.
Develop New Skills
Even without any glaring social issues, teens can greatly benefit from interacting with their peers in group therapy. For one thing, teens will develop far better communication skills, from how to talk about their feelings to finding appropriate ways to communicate advice or insights to other group members.
Other intangible talents and abilities teens have been known to develop due to group therapy are:
Effective Teen Group Therapy At Sundance Canyon Academy
Here at Sundance Canyon Academy, we have seen the incredible benefits of group therapy in action. As therapy is at the core of our residential treatment center, we provide our students with a variety of therapeutic modalities, such as individual therapy sessions, group therapy, and family therapy.
If you are interested in learning more about our therapeutic troubled teen program, please contact us to speak to one of our program advisors. They will be able to discuss our program with you and help you determine if it is an ideal fit for your teenage son.