Group Therapy

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Therapy groups are a key part of treatment at Magnolia Creek. Along with providing information about what to expect from each group, we hope that the following descriptions can help clients understand how group therapy can meet their treatment needs throughout treatment.

Therapy Group Types

Developed by Steven C. Hayes, Kelly Wilson, and Kirk Strosahl, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) was founded on the idea that most psychological distress is tied to “experiential avoidance”, which is an attempt or desire to suppress unwanted internal experiences, such as emotions, thoughts, or bodily sensations. ACT focuses on helping clients learn to observe, recognize, and accept a realistic perception of self while learning to manage thoughts that may exacerbate anxiety or problematic behaviors.
The addictive behaviors group focuses on examining the root(s) of maladaptive behaviors, triggers, and emotions connected to specific behaviors. It allows the clients to explore the various means they’ve used to cope with perceived negative emotions. Clients also learn how a negative belief system can often lead to impaired thinking and a cycle of acting out behaviors, unmanageability, and shame.
This group utilizes acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) interventions as well as process group components to address contributing factors to the formation of body image. It also helps clients learn how to cope in the present with poor body image while still working towards recovery. Through this therapy, clients learn skills that help them improve their body image in the long term.
This psychoeducation group focuses on the basic principles of CBT , including challenging irrational thoughts. Therapists encourage clients to identify automatic negative thoughts as well as the emotional and behavioral responses through various exercises, peer interactions, and handouts. Clients are encouraged to keep an anger diary as well as a thought log for tracking irrational thought frequency.
The cooking group teaches clients cooking skills, including how to create a balanced meal with chef supervision. The chef works to enhance awareness of safety not only with tools in the kitchen but also about food safety. Clients learn how to judge expirations on food, how to cook food in ways that sustain nutrients intended by those foods, and how to not only cook for oneself but how to multitask in the kitchen to cook for others. This group gives clients an opportunity to be creative as clients learn to choose dishes outside of their comfort zones in addition to basic cooking tips. Finally, this group challenges clients by teaching them to work together as a team to create a final product for display and consumption.
This group is facilitated by a trained therapist with clients using art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings. Clients are encouraged to reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behaviors and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety and depression, and increase self-esteem/self-worth.

Overview of Group Therapy

Odyssey Behavioral Healthcare’s AVP of Clinical Services, Kate Fisch, LCSW, discusses group therapy at Magnolia Creek.
According to the Linehan Institute, DBT was originally developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, DBT has been successfully integrated into the recovery process for eating disorders as well as a wide range of other mental health disorder including substance use disorders, mood disorders, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) . DBT helps clients develop the skills needed to regulate distress and find a balance between thoughts and emotions.
Experiential therapy consists of multiple approaches such as role-playing, group sculpting, use of props, guided imagery, art therapy, and more. Instead of traditional talk therapy, experiential therapy encourages individuals to address hidden and sometimes subconscious issues through experiential activities and interactions.

Clinicians use exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy to treat anxiety disorders by exposing clients to the feared object or circumstance in the absence of danger to desensitize fear and distress while reinforcing safety. ERP helps the brain re-conceptualize the threat by gradually increasing the exposure to the fear at mild to moderate levels while reinforcing safety through affirmation and experience.

For individuals suffering from an eating disorder, particularly bulimia or anorexia, ERP can help them overcome fears of consuming certain foods and can also assist with anxiety-provoking experiences like being weighed, grocery shopping, or looking at oneself in the mirror.

This interactive group provides a supportive environment for clients to examine their family dynamics and multigenerational behaviors amongst their peers. The family dynamics group helps clients identify their support systems including family and friends. Clients are encouraged to interact with peers while engaging in conversations highlighting family issues, their role in their family, interpersonal skills, and communication skills, as well as how to create healthy relationships.
The goal of this group is to explore various components that contribute to the development of identity, to evaluate how the sense of self or identity influences how individuals respond to both internal and external stimuli, and to develop a strong sense of identity to ultimately enhance confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.
Internal family systems (IFS) is based on the theory that everyone possesses different internal components that fill the needs we each have for love, attachment, belonging, achievement, survival, etc. With the support of a trained therapist, we can identify the roots of conflict and ways to navigate the conflict in ourselves and others by developing a deeper understanding of these components, their experiences, and their needs. Identifying and meeting the needs of these components dissolves our tendencies of meeting needs in destructive ways and equips us to identify and navigate conflict more effectively.

These experiential outings are led by a dietitian and allow for clients to practice normalizing eating while socializing out in public and implementing newfound nutrition knowledge and portioning skills in the real world. The grocery outings allow for clients to practice purchasing groceries, while assessing and processing any anxiety that may exist due to the pressures of shopping and being in large crowds. This allows clients to get out of the treatment setting and to test out the real world setting as they near the end of their treatment.

Mindfulness training involved helping clients develop awareness of what they’re experiencing in the moment, including thoughts, feelings, and the environment around them. It also includes the practice of accepting thoughts and emotions, and not passing judgment on the present. Mindfulness-based therapy can be helpful in learning how to manage external stressors that may trigger desires to find a quick relief through binge eating , restriction, purging , excessive exercise , self-harm, etc. Therapeutic techniques help each client learn to be more observant instead of reactive in the present moment.
Motivational interviewing is a therapy technique that encourages collaboration between the client and their therapist to identify internal motivating factors that will help them change. Clinicians commonly use this method in the treatment of mental health disorders, as well as eating disorders.
This group offers a type of counseling that views people separately from their problems, allowing clients to gain distance from and perspective on their issues. This insight allows clients see how their issues may be helping them or protecting them, more than they are hurting them.
This nutrition-based eating disorder group therapy educates clients a wide range of nutrition-related topics. Our registered dietitian enforces the importance of a healthy lifestyle by exploring topics such including proper diet/eating; how to manage various symptoms of diseases or chronic conditions with diet; and how to protect health, prevent allergic reactions, and minimize symptoms of diseases with food. In addition, clients in this group are educated on nutritional content, food advertising, and other nutrition-related concerns.
Process group therapy gives clients the opportunity to discuss issues they’re currently struggling with or to discuss their current goals for treatment. In addition, this group encourages clients to offer feedback to their peers and to identify similarities between struggles and coping styles.
Psychodynamic therapy is based on the belief that experiences from the past influence the way we see and interpret the world. By offering a safe space and a healthy therapeutic relationship to identify and process through events, relationships, and patterns throughout life, we can gain insight on present-day problems, beliefs, and thoughts. Once we gain insight, we can develop coping mechanisms to manage distress and engage in different behaviors moving forward to inhibit the continuation of distress-inducing experiences.
The self-reflection group encourages clients to use interpersonal and clear communication skills when reflecting on their own experiences. The therapist provides clients with four self-reflecting assignments and encourages them to share the assignments with the group once completed. The self-reflection group allows clients to identify environmental or social triggers that may have contributed to their disorders, practice public speaking, create a relapse prevention plan, reflect on self-responsibility, and create self-accountability in hopes of recovery.
Trauma is defined as anything that threatens life as we know it (either emotionally or physically). This includes what’s stereotypically thought of when discussing trauma including unwanted sexual experiences, losing an important person, physical violence, natural disasters, and car accidents; however, it also includes repeated emotional abuse, unpredictable environments, job loss, and a relationship ending. In this group, clients develop an understanding of normal responses in the aftermath of traumatic experiences. Therapists also discuss in more detail how neurobiology works (how the brain responds) when individuals experience trauma. This group teaches clients healthy coping skills and how to help their bodies process traumatic experiences. Clients also practice challenging shame and cognitive distortions related to trauma to help them practice self-compassion.
This group allows each client to meet individually with their treatment team. They can use this time to express concerns, receive feedback, and review progress. The treatment team includes therapists, family therapists, dietitians, and medical staff. Clients receive feedback from the team, and they can express how the team can provide more support.

If you’d like to learn more about group therapy or our other treatment offerings, our caring staff is ready to help. Call us or fill out the form to get started today.

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