Group Therapy for Troubled Teens

Advantages and Benefits of Group Therapy

College students participate in support group. Steve Debenport

Group therapy is a good option to consider for your teen since kids at this age are often so social and really look for support from their peers. Your teen may find group therapy helpful in addition to, or instead of, individual therapy.

What is Group Therapy?

Group therapy provides a unique setting in which troubled teens can learn from and support each other to get help with a specific problem. Group therapy consists of a small group of teens with similar issues and a therapist who facilitates the therapy process.

 The practice of group therapy has been around for more than 50 years and studies have shown that it is just as effective, and sometimes even more effective, than individual therapy.

We participate in group environments all the time, from families to school to work. Group therapy is just another aspect of a group support mentality. Since most teens enjoy interacting with their peers, this can be a very effective way for your teen to learn about her problem and possible solutions. Teens who would rather talk about feelings and experiences with peers than with adults may benefit more from group therapy than individual or family therapy.

What Teen Problems Can Group Therapy Help?

Group therapy offers the most help to teens who have good verbal skills and a specific problem they want to get help with.

Specific teen topics addressed in group therapy include:

  • alcohol/drug use
  • cutting
  • excessive anger
  • medical issues, like cancer or diabetes

Group therapy is also a good choice for a teen dealing with a recent trauma such as the death of a friend or family member, sexual or physical abuse or parental divorce.

Benefits of Group Therapy for Teens

Participating in a therapy group with other teens struggling with the same problem can teach new skills and have unique benefits such as:

  • improving social skills
  • learning new ways to cope
  • finding out they aren't alone
  • meeting people to talk to when feeling the urge to cut, drink, etc.
  • gaining a broader perspective of their problem
  • understanding what makes their problem worse
  • giving motivation to make changes

Additional Considerations

In deciding whether this therapy option may be a good way to help your teen, consider the following potential advantages and disadvantages:

Potential Advantages of Group Therapy

  • The cost of group therapy is usually less than for individual or family therapy.
  • Teens with good verbal and social skills usually do well in group therapy.
  • Therapy with other teens who have the same problem provides a great deal of information about this specific issue.

Potential Disadvantages of Group Therapy

  • Effective therapy groups require a skilled therapist to provide effective leadership.
  • Some teens will find it difficult to talk openly about their problems in this setting.
  • The overall effectiveness of the group depends to some extent on the other participants.

    Topic-focused groups for troubled teens can be found by contacting therapists or programs who specialize in helping teens such as school counselors, residential treatment centers, medical facilities or adolescent therapists.


    "What is Group Psychotherapy?" American Group Psychotherapy Association (2016).

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