The Complete Guide to Group Therapy for Teens


Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists working with several individuals at the same time.

It's a collaborative effort where members share their experiences, challenge each other's thought processes, and offer mutual support.

For teens, group therapy holds particular relevance and importance. Adolescence is a period of significant change and development, often accompanied by unique challenges and pressures.

Group therapy provides a supportive platform for teens to navigate these challenges together, fostering a sense of belonging and understanding.

It helps them realize they're not alone in their struggles, promoting mental health awareness and resilience during this critical phase of life. 

Children Therapists in Colorado

Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

Naomi Kettner, LPC, NCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Cassondra Chagnon, LPCC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 481-3518
Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Jenifer Seas, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 452-4374
Melissa Peterson, LPC

Melissa Peterson, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Margot Bean, LCSW

Margot Bean, LCSW

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Lauren Wilkerson, SWC

Lauren Wilkerson, SWC

(719) 345-2424

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Types of Group Therapy for Teens

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Groups

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach that helps individuals understand the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. 

In a CBT group, teens learn to identify and challenge negative thought patterns and develop healthier, more positive ways of thinking.

This can be particularly helpful for teens struggling with depression, anxiety, or self-esteem issues.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Groups

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a type of therapy that focuses on teaching coping skills, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance.

In a DBT group, teens learn to manage intense emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviors, and improve relationships.

This therapy is often recommended for teens with borderline personality disorder, self-harm tendencies, or suicidal thoughts.

Support Groups

Support groups provide a safe space for teens to share their experiences, feelings, and challenges with peers who are going through similar situations.

These groups can focus on specific issues like grief, addiction, eating disorders, or bullying.

The main goal of support groups is to foster a sense of community and understanding, reducing feelings of isolation and stigma.

Psychoeducational Groups

Psychoeducational groups aim to educate teens about mental health issues and coping strategies.

These groups often focus on specific topics such as stress management, dealing with peer pressure, or understanding mental illnesses.

The objective is to provide teens with knowledge and tools they can use to navigate their mental health challenges.

Activity-based Groups

Activity-based groups combine therapeutic discussion with engaging activities such as art, music, drama, or outdoor adventures.

The activities serve as a form of expressive therapy, allowing teens to express their thoughts and feelings in non-verbal ways.

They also promote teamwork, communication skills, and self-confidence. These types of groups can be particularly effective for teens who have difficulty articulating their emotions or for those who learn best through doing and experiencing. 

Benefits of Group Therapy for Teens

Improvement in Social Skills

Group therapy provides a safe and structured environment for teens to interact with their peers, facilitating the development of essential social skills.

These include effective communication, active listening, conflict resolution, and teamwork.

Regular interaction within the group helps teens become more comfortable in social situations and improves their ability to form healthy relationships.

Enhanced Self-Esteem and Self-Awareness

Through group therapy, teens gain a better understanding of themselves and their emotions.

As they share their feelings and experiences and receive feedback, they learn to see themselves from different perspectives.

This increased self-awareness, coupled with the acceptance and support from the group, can significantly enhance a teen's self-esteem.

Reduction in Feelings of Isolation

Teens often feel isolated and misunderstood, especially when dealing with mental health issues. Being part of group therapy can alleviate these feelings as they realize they're not alone in their struggles.

The shared experiences within the group foster a sense of belonging and can greatly reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Learning from Peers' Experiences and Perspectives

Group therapy allows teens to hear different viewpoints and learn from the experiences of others who are dealing with similar issues.

This can provide valuable insights and strategies that they might not have considered on their own.

Seeing others successfully coping with their problems can also inspire hope and motivate them to make positive changes.

Development of Empathy

Listening to others share their struggles and accomplishments fosters empathy among group members.

Teens learn to understand and appreciate the feelings of others, which is a vital skill for building strong, supportive relationships.

The development of empathy also contributes to a more caring and inclusive group environment, enhancing the overall therapeutic experience. 

How to Choose the Right Group Therapy for Teens

Factors to consider when choosing a group therapy program:

  • The teen's specific mental health needs and challenges

  • The type of group therapy (CBT, DBT, Support, Psychoeducational, or Activity-based)

  • The structure and size of the group

  • The qualifications and experience of the therapist or group leader

  • Location and scheduling – whether it fits into your family's routine

  • The cost and whether insurance will cover it

  • Feedback or reviews from previous participants

  • The comfort level of the teen with the group setting and members

Questions to ask potential therapists or group leaders:

  • What is your experience in dealing with teens and their specific issues?

  • What is the main focus or goal of this group therapy?

  • How is a typical session conducted?

  • What techniques or methods do you use in the sessions?

  • How do you handle confidentiality within the group?

  • How do you deal with conflicts or issues that may arise within the group?

  • How do you measure progress or success in participants?

  • Can parents or guardians be involved in any way?

  • How do you handle a situation if a teen is not comfortable or not benefiting from the group?

The Role of Parents and Guardians in Group Therapy

Parents and guardians play a crucial role in their teen's therapy journey, offering support and encouragement throughout the process.

They can help by creating an open and accepting environment at home where teens feel comfortable discussing their feelings and experiences.

This includes being attentive to their concerns, acknowledging their progress, and expressing faith in their ability to overcome challenges.

However, parents need to respect the privacy and boundaries set in group therapy. Confidentiality is a cornerstone of therapy, and breaching it can damage trust and hinder the therapeutic process.

Parents should understand that certain topics may be off-limits for discussion outside the therapy room, and they must respect this to maintain a supportive, effective therapeutic environment. 

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Group therapy offers a unique and effective approach to addressing the mental health needs of teens.

It provides a supportive community where teens can improve their social skills, boost their self-esteem, reduce feelings of isolation, learn from their peers, and develop empathy.

Parents and guardians play a pivotal role in supporting their teen's journey while respecting the privacy and boundaries inherent in the therapy process.

If you're a teen struggling with mental health issues, or a parent seeking help for your child, consider group therapy.

Don't hesitate to take this positive step towards better mental health. 

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July 21st, 2024

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