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5 Reasons Group Therapy Is the Best Choice Struggling Teens

Research shows a 73% improvement in teens in group therapy vs. other therapies

Individual therapy is a wonderful tool for helping teenagers overcome their fears, improve their moods, and explore their feelings. But why do so many teens with social problems fail to benefit from individual therapy?

The answer is simple: Kids' anxieties or difficulties socially—in classrooms, study groups, lunch rooms, or recess—will not emerge in individual sessions. Socially-anxious kids frequently relate well, demonstrate intelligence, or have a sense of humor in individual sessions. That’s because they aren’t being challenged; they don’t experience the same anxieties they encounter in social settings with peers.

A meta-analysis of 56 studies over 20 years, reported in the Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, reports that group therapy was proven more effective with children and teenagers than other forms of therapy. It says that the average child or adolescent treated by group treatment was better off than 73 percent of those not.

Group therapy provides therapists with the rare opportunity to see teenagers' social problems in action. Shyness, bullying, inattentiveness, fearfulness, social anxieties—all these tendencies emerge in group. A skilled group therapist catches these reactions in the moment and helps teens to overcome bad habits and make new choices.

Who benefits most from group therapy? Kids who suffer from the following issues:

The Benefits of Group Therapy

Group Therapy is like a fitness center for social skills. Teens emerge from a positive group experience with new interpersonal tools and abilities. They speak up in class, resist negative peer pressure, and stand up for themselves. Group work also helps teens increase their capacity for self-expression and emotional assertiveness. As their social insecurities dissolve, they feel comfortable talking to peers or adults.

What are the benefits of group therapy? Here’s a five-point checklist:

1. Social Confidence

Group sessions allow kids to incorporate new ways of relating and developing better social behaviors. As they build confidence and develop a knack for speaking in groups, they become more comfortable asserting themselves in social situations in their daily life.

2. Better Communication Skills

Many teenagers have difficulty communicating their emotions and tend to bottle up their feelings. Unrelieved emotional stress often triggers irritable behaviors such as moodiness, irritability, and defiance. In group therapy, kids rarely explore their feelings and fears with other teenagers. As they develop better communication skills, they experience a surge in maturity.

3. Positive Peer Influences

Peer pressure wields epic positive and negative influences on young people’s lives. When kids are in the company of peers struggling to improve themselves and develop healthier ways of relating, they don’t feel so alone. Each week, group members cheer and celebrate each other’s victories. This positive environment gives kids the confidence they need to overcome self-doubt and take more social initiative.

4. Improved Relationships

Isolated teens are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression; these teens withdraw from peers to quell fears and insecurities. Group sessions offer kids a chance to develop better-quality peer relationships. Kids trapped in poor relationships at school can start again and become part of a peer community off of school grounds that appreciates and values them.

5. Reduced Stress

Teens often feel humiliated by social and academic pressures. Group work relieves kids from stress by allowing them to unburden themselves with peers who understand them. They learn to keep difficulties in perspective and develop a healthy sense of humor.

A New Beginning

Not all kids are equipped with good social skills. The sooner they become skilled at managing themselves in groups, the better. Group therapy offers teens a rare chance to develop social confidence and self-assurance. And that’s the best gift any teenager could ask for.

For information on therapy groups and workshops, visit

Also see the New York Times article, “Why Group therapy Worked."

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