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Group and family therapy differ from individual therapy in numerous ways. When providing individual therapy, the therapist has an understanding that the individual is the client. Individual therapists recognize that an individual’s personality is shaped by their families and their behavior is controlled by internalized family influences (Nichols & Davis, 2020). In group and family therapy the entire group is the client, not just an individual. Nichols and Davis (2020) state that family therapists believe family shapes the lives of individuals, therefore changing the structure of a family will help to change the lives of all family members. In group therapy, individuals may question who is in charge or the decisionmaker for the group or family. When conducting group therapy, therapists need to set boundaries and rules upon initiation of therapy. The therapist should reiterate that the goal of group or family therapy is based on the group as a whole and not just the individual.
Confidentiality is more of a concern in group therapy than it is in individual therapy. When providing group therapy, the therapist should inform all participants of their roles and responsibilities regarding confidentiality and that anything shared within the group is confidential (Breeskin, 2011). Although participants in group therapy are instructed to maintain confidentiality, there is a potential for breach of confidentiality in groups since there are multiple clients participating in this form of therapy. McClanahan (2014) states that clients benefit when a trusting relationship is achieved through keeping information confidential. In group therapy, the success and participation of individuals may differ from individual therapy due to time constraints, withdrawal of members of the group, or poor relationships amongst group members. It is the responsibility of the therapist to be aware of any issues in the group and address concerns when they arise since they could affect all participants within the group (Akbari et al., 2018). Legal issues, such as informed consent also differs in group or family therapy. Informed consent is ongoing and must be obtained from every individual in the group, both before and throughout group therapy. Obtaining informed consent in group counseling can be challenging since individuals in group therapy may be at different stages of their counseling. Individuals wanting to participate in group therapy learn about confidentiality through informed consent (McClanahan, 2014). Before the initiation of group therapy, every client should be educated and have an understanding of confidentiality and that in certain circumstances confidentiality may be broken due to legal obligations (McClanahan, 2014).
Group therapy is both beneficial and challenging for the therapist and clients. Group therapists need to be mindful of every individual in the group. Clients that participate in group therapy may find this form of therapy beneficial since they are with others that have similar problems, develop support systems within the group, and develop a sense of self-awareness by listening to other members of the group (Wheeler, 2014). According to Wheeler (2014), group therapy may be more beneficial than individual therapy since individuals are able to talk about common experiences and issues in a structured environment. Understanding the ethical and legal issues that may arise in group therapy will determine the way in which the therapist developments and implements a therapy plan for clients participating in group therapy.
Akbari, S., Rahimi, C., Mohamadi, N., & Hussaini, S. H. (2018). Studying the effectiveness of motivational group therapy in
heroin addicts in Kabul. Intervention (15718883), 16(3), 249-255. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/
Breeskin, J. (2011). Procedures and guidelines for group therapy. The Group Psychologist, 21(1). Retrieved from
McClanahan, K. K. (2014). Can confidentiality be maintained in group therapy? Retrieved from
Nichols, M., & Davis, S. D. (2020). The essentials of family therapy (7 th ed.). Pearson.
Wheeler, K. (Ed.). (2014). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse: A how-to guide for evidence-based