-- Question: How effective is group therapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders?
Answer: Group therapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders. This can be done in addition to your individual therapy or can be done on your own. There are several formats for group therapy for anxiety disorders.
One is a support group. This is where a bunch of people with problems with anxiety get together and offer each other suggestions or ideas or just general support. It normalizes your struggles with anxiety. It can be something that helps you cope better with the anxiety.
A skills training group is where people with common struggles get together and learn different kinds of skills to manage their anxiety. So for example if you have social anxiety, you might get together with a group of people -- and this is traditionally led by a mental health professional -- and you learn more effective social skills as a way of reducing your anxiety. Or if you have general anxiety, you might just go and learn better coping or anxiety management skills, and these can be things like diaphragmatic breathing skills, or meditation, or relaxation training.
A third kind of group is exposure therapy. So a group of people get together and they each go and confront feared situations and the idea is in confronting the feared situations, their anxiety reduces when the feared outcomes don't happen. And again, this can be done in a group format.
A fourth kind of group for anxiety disorders is what's called interpersonal or process groups. These are particularly helpful for people that experience anxiety in group contexts or interpersonally. The idea is that you go into the group, develop relationships with people in the group, and the kind of anxiety that you experience in the world is going to occur in the group. And the idea is that you work through those relationships and that anxiety in a different way in the context of the group.