Why Group Therapy is a Beneficial Approach to Mental Health Care

Most of us have heard of therapy, where a trained and licensed therapist or psychiatrist meets with an individual to provide support and resources for their mental health concerns.

This one-on-one approach can be life-changing for those who are struggling. Many may not know of another form of impactful therapy that takes a different approach: group therapy.

Group therapy creates an environment where individuals experiencing similar life experiences and challenges come together and receive support and resources from a trained and licensed therapist or psychiatrist. This group approach can be beneficial in so many ways, and Lakeland Regional Health is proud to offer this type of mental health care to our community.

We sat down with one of our licensed mental health counselors (LMHC), Quinton Clawson, to learn more about the incredible benefits of group therapy and intensive outpatient programs. Quinton joined Lakeland Regional Health Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness’s Director of Providers & Operations, Ben Johnson, in starting the intensive outpatient program (IOP). We asked a few questions to get information for our readers on this unique therapy approach.

What is the intensive outpatient program (IOP)?

IOP is unique to Lakeland Regional Health in that it is not only the first IOP program for the hospital, but it is also the trailblazer for group therapy offered in an ambulatory behavioral health setting at the hospital. Some examples that would be similar would be the daily groups that are offered on inpatient by our occupational therapists, recreational therapists, chaplain, dietician, and inpatient social workers, though these may be viewed more as educational and enrichment groups rather than traditional group therapy.

Our outpatient programs provide comprehensive treatment facilitated by knowledgeable and compassionate staff in comfortable treatment rooms, and services are individualized depending on each person’s needs. Some of the services offered are evaluation, psychotherapy, and psychiatry for varying mental health challenges by one of our skilled LMHCs, LCSWs, APRNs, licensed psychologists, and/or board-certified psychiatrists. We also offer outpatient ECT for patients who would benefit from the procedure. 

What makes group therapy unique?

I believe what makes group therapy a unique experience exists in the concepts of social connection and self-expansion. It allows a person to safely be vulnerable with other individuals who may be experiencing similar challenges or difficulties. In that, the person is provided not only support but provided the opportunity to be able to give support. This fosters a feeling of interconnectedness that combats common mental health challenges such as loneliness and lacking a sense of purpose. This interconnectedness nurtures a sense of understanding of others and our world, which in turn translates to a deeper and broader understanding of ourselves.

What are some of the benefits of group therapy?

The benefits of group therapy have been well-documented. Some of these benefits include developing a support network, having a soundboard of peers for your thoughts, and feelings, providing perspective to your experiences, combatting stigma associated with mental illness, developing a sense of acceptance and belonging, and discovering new ways of making positive changes. All of this contributes to progress being made in treatment.

Why are you passionate about working with patients at Lakeland Regional Health Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness?

My passion for being a counselor, and my pride in Lakeland Regional Health Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness, come from my own experiences of patients expressing how their lives have changed for the better thanks to the work that we do. It comes from being able to see that change in the expressions on their faces, the way they carry their selves, and the way they talk about the future, from the beginning of treatment to discharge.

In IOP, we provide an anonymous perception of care survey to our participants at the end of their treatment. Recently, we received this comment, “The team is very helpful and listened to my concerns. I never felt crazy about what I was going through. Being told it’s okay to cry really helped me too. So, thank you.” It’s comments like these that my team receives daily, either in writing or verbally, that fuel everything I do.

What kinds of group therapy does Lakeland Regional Health Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness offer?

Group therapy can differ depending on its purpose, the number of participants, and the modality of treatment it follows. For IOP, we have open groups, which means that participants can join and discharge at any time. A typical group for IOP is about 50 minutes long and has no less than 3 participants but no more than 10. It is facilitated by one of our licensed mental health counselors or licensed clinical social workers and could include a range of information covering everything from developing coping skills to psychoeducation on mental illness.

Often in these groups, participants are encouraged to draw on their personal experiences to apply this information to their lives, and if they choose to, they are supported in sharing their experiences with the group so that the group can support each member in processing those experiences.

I think the most important thing for readers to know about outpatient programs and group therapy is that no matter what you’re experiencing, there is help available, and recovery is possible. The bravest thing you can do is to ask for help, and we at HFCBW are here for you if and when the time to ask for help ever comes.

harrell family center for behavioral wellness

Harrell Family Center for Behavioral Wellness

A place of hope, connection, recovery, and support-close to home. At Lakeland Regional Health, we know that not every need a person has is physical, and we understand the powerful connection of mind and body. If you are facing mental health challenges, we are here to care for you. Our incredible behavioral wellness team at Lakeland Regional Health will partner with you through each step.

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If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, there are resources to help.

In the event of a life-threatening emergency, always call 911.

If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support:

  • Local 24/7 emotional support and Crisis Line at Peace River Center 800-627-5906 or send ‘Talk’ to 863-204-3443.
  • The 988 Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the US. You can call or Text 988 for help.
  • To reach National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call 1-800-273-8255.