Group therapies encounter two different situations when approached from a timeline point of view. Some of them may be time limited, which means that a pre-established number of sessions (meeting of the patients with the therapist) is carried out and after that the therapy is considered finished, or it can go on for years even, with members arriving and departing in and from the group and in this case we can say that we are talking about a continuous therapy. No matter which of the two cases we are referring to, there are a number of ideas that are meant to develop and organize the relationships within the group, between its members and these should always serve as guidance for any therapy.
In order to benefit from the group therapy, each member has to be properly introduced in the group. There are some techniques that can be employed to do that. The therapist may choose to leave the members alone for a number of minutes and assign them the task to gather as much information as possible about the others. Based on this information, a new task is assign and a group member must find a funny, innovative way of introducing some other member based on the information collected in the start. This presentation can be in the form of a poem or even a short song and can help in obtaining a group icebreaker, which is, in fact, the whole idea of this technique. Another idea for getting an icebreaker is to assign pairs of two animals to patients, so that, blindfolded, one patient with an animal must find the other person with the same animal assigned using the animal specific sounds that every member must make.
Beside the icebreaker that is essential for starting the group with a good chemistry during which the members get familiar with one another, the next move is to build some trust based relationships. This can also be done by using some amusing and entertaining group activities. In one such activity, the members are divided in pairs of two or three and one member from each smaller group is blindfolded at a time. One of the other members are ask to draw something on the board and then to describe it, while the blindfolded one needs to guess what’s the drawing about. Designing a minefield for example and blindfolding one member, while another one tries to guide him or her through the minefield without stepping on a mine is another good exercise for building the trust between members.
After these incipient stages have been processed, the “real” therapy means. The members need now to share their experiences and learn from one another. Answering the therapist’s questions about some aspects of their lives helps them to gain understanding and empathy towards others as well.
Group therapies are efficient because they encourage the members to share information and to witness to the life experiences of the ones next to them. Other group activities may be employed, even camping experiences and all these are meant to make the patients feel the support of the group and the therapist as well.