Benefits of Group Therapy for Children

If your child has been attending occupational or speech therapy sessions regularly for some time, then you probably have a pretty good idea by now about what goes on in those one-to-one sessions. But what if your child’s therapist or school suggests that they join group therapy? 

If you’re wondering whether your child could benefit from being in group speech or occupational therapy, read on!

What is group therapy?

Group therapy is a form of treatment that typically involves one or two therapists working with a small group of clients. The group is put together with specific targets in mind, which are designed based on proven strategies. Together, the group will work on appropriate areas that can help meet the needs of its members. This may include addressing anxiety, social skills, emotional regulation, fine motor skills, gross motor skills and others. Group therapy can also be done alone or in combination with one-to-one therapies.

The benefits of group therapy

While both one-to-one and group therapies help children to grow, develop and learn, group therapy can offer numerous benefits that one-to-one therapy does not, such as:

  • Learning alongside and in the company of others

Group therapy helps children to learn and practice ways to play, share, take turns and communicate with others, which is especially beneficial for those who struggle with these skills in daily life

  • Provides real-world examples 

We don’t live in a “bubble” and life comes with the company of others and all kinds of distractions. Because group therapy sessions mimic real-world experiences, it offers children the opportunity to have friendly competitions, follow rules and group plans, develop an understanding of everyday living, as well as learn how to deal with their emotions and what to do in social situations.

  • Forming relationships

Children in the same group will become acquainted with one another, start making friends and form relationships. This team spirit will help children to realise that they’re not alone in facing their challenges and that they can encourage one another.

  • Children can feel more calm and relaxed

Being in a group of friendly faces helps children to develop a feeling of comfort, belonging and security. It’s also more fun to be with friends, which can help children to feel more calm and relaxed. This encourages them to be more open to learning, as they work on developing skills with peers their own age. 

  • Supports their emotional intelligence

Young children and children with developmental delays typically have a limited understanding of their emotions and how to cope with big feelings. This often causes them to struggle and be reactive in their interactions with others. Group therapy offers guided interactions with peers, which helps foster emotional intelligence, coping skills, and empathy for others.

Is group therapy effective?

Research indicates that group therapy can be very effective for children of all ages, ranging from early childhood to adolescence. When we look back at our own childhoods, we’ll come to realise that we didn’t learn and develop our skills in isolation. 

 

We developed everything from social skills to self-care, and cognitive skills to fine motor skills, through our interactions with others, such as family members, friends, teachers and classmates. Similarly, grouping children together in speech or occupational therapy sessions can help provide the added support they need to make progress, boost morale and achieve success.

What do they do in group therapy?

Here’s an example of what goes on in group therapy sessions:

  • Different types of play: Therapists engage children through different types of play, such as spontaneous play or structured play activities. 
  • Modelling positive behaviours and communication: Therapists model positive behaviours, such as how to listen actively, work together and wait patiently for their turn, as well as how to communicate with others (verbally and non-verbally). Over time, children will pick up these behaviours and incorporate them in their everyday lives. 
  • Self expression and self esteem: Children learn how to express themselves appropriately through supportive bonds and positive social interactions with the therapists and their peers.
  • Practice skills through structured activities: Therapists give children in the group the opportunity to practice various skills through carefully planned activities in a safe and supportive environment. 
  • Children have fun! They play games, role-play, create art and engage in various developmentally-appropriate activities together.

If you still have questions about group therapy, or would like to learn about the types of therapies and learning support services offered at The Energy Source, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

This article was reviewed by Joanna Hutt, Director, Principal Physiotherapist and Sensory Practitioner of The Energy Source.

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Joanna Hutt

Director, Principal Physiotherapist and Sensory Practitioner

Hello, my name is Joanna Hutt and I am the founder and managing director at The Energy Source.

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