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What training is available for group therapists

The training required to become a successful group therapist is both arduous and time consuming. This is necessary as the position itself is very demanding. The training intends to prepare the individual for the experiences they will be having on a daily basis as a practicing group therapist. A dedication to the perceived benefits of group therapy is absolutely essential to make it through the training process. As time will become quite a commodity when one is in the training process to become a group therapist, the rewards of the work itself will have to be enough at times to get you through.

The training to become a group therapist is twofold, like any person who helps people. There is the hands-on training and the information learned in books. Both aspects are absolutely essential to success as a group therapist. Often there are situations that cannot be described by case studies and theories read in a book, which is why the practical in person training is required. On the other hand, there will be many situations in which the group therapist would not have known what to say or do had they not been aware of the previous cases they studied prior to starting practicing themselves.

Education vs. Experience

For the American Group Psychotherapy Association, one must complete a minimum of twelve hours of group psychotherapy related classes in order to qualify for their certifications. These classes need to include a number of different theoretical points intended to put you in a position to succeed as a group psychotherapist once you are practicing. Those areas are foundations of group psychotherapy, the group leader, group dynamics and group process, and the change process in groups. As group psychotherapy has been practiced for many years now, these classes provide an organized means to relate the experience of previous group psychotherapists so the group psychotherapists of the future can avoid the mistakes of the past.

The experience aspect of training to become a group psychotherapist is something that cannot be taught but must be experienced. Just as a musician must practice his or her instrument for a number of hours before the musical theories that they had learned become muscle memory, a group psychotherapist must gain many hours of experience practicing the theories they learned in school before they are prepared to be certified as a successful group psychotherapist. The AGPA requires 300 hours of experience as a leader or co-leader of group therapy sessions before they are willing to give anyone certification. 75 of those hours must also be supervised. The purpose of supervised hours of experience is so that you can get feedback on how well you are doing. Although one might think they are succeeding in getting through to a group, it is not always easy to know where one can improve without a trained eye reflecting that information back to the potential group therapist.

Group therapist training can be grueling at times but it is a necessary aspect of becoming a successful group therapist.