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Group Therapy for Adolescents

As parents, comprehending what’s going through your teenager’s mind can often seem daunting. It provides a compassionate and supportive forum where teens lower defenses and start sharing their experiences.

When teens participate in group therapy, they can confront common issues like peer conflicts, peer pressure, and substance abuse. Guided by a professional teen therapist, group therapy offers a safe space for teens to process complex emotions and experiences, accelerating their journey toward healing. Group therapy sessions are a crucial component of a comprehensive teen treatment plan.

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Group Therapy in Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Group therapy in our PHP, also called Day Treatment, provides a supportive environment where teens can work on their emotional and behavioral challenges during the day. Some key benefits include:

  1. Enhances Interpersonal Skills: Teens learn to interact more effectively and empathetically, improving their social dynamics and relationship-building skills.
  2. Boosts Emotional Regulation: The supportive group setting helps teens learn to identify and manage their feelings more effectively.
  3. Improves Coping Mechanisms: By confronting and discussing their struggles with peers, teens develop healthier coping strategies for their problems.

Group Therapy in Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Group therapy in our Intensive Outpatient Program, also called our After-School Program, integrates therapeutic sessions into an after-school schedule, allowing teens to balance their academic commitments and mental health needs. Key benefits include:

  1. Fosters Routine and Responsibility: This blend of therapy and regular schooling encourages teens to take charge of their schedules, fostering responsibility and self-discipline.
  2. Promotes Peer Interactions: Group therapy in an IOP setting helps teens develop their social skills and build supportive networks with their peers.
  3. Enhances Coping Skills: The group therapy sessions help teens learn effective strategies to cope with stress, enhancing their resilience in facing challenges.
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What You Should Expect in a Group Therapy for Adolescents

An adolescent therapist has several group therapy models to choose from in teen group therapy. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), these models utilize different therapeutic approaches to yield varied results depending on the teen’s issues, be it mental health challenges, emotional regulation difficulties, or substance abuse disorders.

Here’s a deeper look into the five most common models a therapist may use:

1. Psychotherapy Group Therapy 

This form of group therapy helps teens realize the importance of the relationships they build in managing various aspects of their lives. It encourages them to work together to form a cohesive group, promoting empathy and accessible communication. The primary focus of this approach is to develop interpersonal and social skills.

2. Cognitive Therapy Groups 

Employing cognitive behavioral therapy and other therapeutic styles, this type of group therapy assists teens struggling with substance abuse in identifying and changing unhealthy behavior patterns. The therapist works with the group to help teens control their thought processes and addictive behaviors, equipping them with the necessary tools to cope with triggers and stressors.

3. Dynamic Group Therapy 

This group therapy focuses on helping teens struggling with substance abuse regulate their behavior. It fosters a supportive group setting where shared issues can be discussed, allowing teens to overcome feelings of isolation and shame, regulate emotions, and work towards abstinence.

4. Relapse Prevention Group Therapy 

Ideal for teens who have completed a drug treatment program, this approach facilitates their transition back to everyday life. Teens can heavily rely on peer support and involvement in this group to better understand their addiction.

5. Interpersonal Process Group Therapy 

Therapists utilize a psychodynamic approach in this variant of teen group therapy. This branch of psychology regards a person’s subconscious beliefs and life experiences as the root of their problem. Unlike psychoeducation group therapy, the therapist monitors unhealthy dynamics and encourages teens to share their reactions and roles.

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What are the Benefits of Group Therapy for Adolescents?

Group therapy sessions can be compared to a training ground that enhances teenagers’ social skills and helps them develop healthy coping skills. It provides them with interpersonal tools to navigate daily life challenges. Here are the key benefits of group therapy for teens:

1. Build Social Confidence

Group therapy gives teenagers a unique platform to develop better social behaviors. It fosters confidence in speaking in groups, making teens more comfortable asserting themselves in various social situations.

2. Improves Communication Skills

Many teens grapple with articulating their emotions. However, group therapy allows them to explore their fears and feelings with other teenagers, thus enhancing their communication skills and emotional maturity.

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3. Provides Positive Peer Influences

While peer pressure can have both positive and negative influences, group therapy for teens promotes healthier interpersonal relationships. Regular celebrations of weekly victories foster a positive environment that empowers teens to overcome self-doubt and take social initiatives.

4. Build New Friendships

Through group therapy, teens can forge new friendships with peers who share similar experiences. This support network can help them cope with triggers for unusual behaviors or addiction more effectively than friends who might exert negative peer influence.

Group Therapy at MCAW - Near Boston

Group therapy can help adolescents deal with abnormal behaviors and mental struggles. Many parents don’t know how to help their teens cope with these behaviors, but teen group therapy can. 

At Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness, we use several therapeutic approaches to help teenagers deal with their struggles. If your teen is struggling with mental health disorders, contact us today to learn more about our therapies. Our team can answer any questions about our day treatment and intensive outpatient program for adolescents. 

Clinically Reviewed by:

Dr. Melanie Carbonneau PhD, LMHC, MT-BC

Dr. Melanie Carbonneau PhD, LMHC, MT-BC

Melanie Carbonneau is the Clinical Director at Massachusetts Center for Adolescent Wellness and is a licensed counselor and certified music therapist with a Ph.D. from Lesley University. She leads MCAW with a focus on holistic care, emphasizing the importance of family and community involvement in the healing process.