Peer support is broadly defined as when two people, having similar experiences, come together to discuss, share, and support one another. Amid mental health struggles, having a supportive group of people with whom you can communicate, express your feelings, and identify can be the difference between life-long recovery and relapse.
While peer support is often associated with mental health and addiction recovery, it is appropriate for anyone with similar experiences, feelings, and struggle. Peer support is frequently used as part of a mental health treatment program as a component of group therapy.
Treatment Connection, an online resource, connects those who have mental illness with treatment providers best suited to meet their unique needs. A combination of evidence-based treatment options, including group therapy and peer support, can help you or a loved one begin the journey of lifelong recovery from mental health and addiction challenges.
What is Group Therapy?
Group therapy is a form of structured psychotherapy or talk therapy. A therapist or counselor may interact with several people, usually those with the same diagnosis or mental health challenges, simultaneously.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), group therapy programs are equally as effective as individual therapy programs and can offer many benefits not found in individual therapy. Groups in which members share a common sense of purpose and identity are the most effective in breaking down barriers, removing a sense of embarrassment or shame, and nurturing relationships.
5 Benefits of Group Therapy
The philosophy of group therapy is founded on the idea that people feel better and more comfortable when they recognize that they are not alone in their struggles. One of the key reasons that group therapy is so successful is peer interaction and support. Groups help individuals establish and develop their social network, providing more support and reduced feelings of isolation and alienation. Other benefits of group therapy programs include:
- Peers serve as role models for others in the group
- Provides a safe environment to practice new behaviors and social skills
- Participants learn to be accountable for themselves and to others
- Participants make connections that can lead to long-term relationships and peer support after completing a program
- Participants learn from hearing about the experiences of others
Because participants of a group therapy program are aligned in achieving a common goal, individuals develop a sense of camaraderie and belonging. Sharing feelings, thoughts, and experiences in a safe environment with like-minded peers helps alleviate stress, guilt, and emotional pain.
Edwin B. Fisher, Ph.D. professor at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, believes “we all do better with peer support. We all benefit from feeling understood by someone who has ‘walked in my shoes.’ We learn from each other and live healthier lives.”
Finding Peer Support for Mental Health Struggles
While more than twenty percent of the population will suffer from mental health disorders, many people feel isolated, suffering in silence and isolation, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Finding the right treatment program to meet their individual needs is critical to recovery. Receiving the treatment needed to get on the road to recovery is not done alone or without the support of loved ones, therapists and counselors, and a network of compassionate people who understand how you feel.
If you suspect that you or a loved one struggles with mental health challenges, the time is now to find a mental health treatment program that offers evidence-based treatment options that include group therapy and peer support. Using Treatment Connection’s online portal, you can discover the best possible options to start down the road to managing symptoms, implementing coping skills, and being accountable to yourself and others. Search today to find the best mental health treatment option for you.