Group Therapy with Older Adults

Group therapy for  older adults can be beneficial due to the isolation and loneliness  associated with the aging population. Aging is often viewed as a time  characterized by multiple social and emotional losses and a decline in  physical well-being (Bonhote et al., 1999). The decline can increase the  risk of depression and suicide in older adults. With the use of group  therapy and social interaction, the emotional state and overall  wellbeing of the individual can increase.

Description of Group

The description of  my independent group therapy included older adults, all of who were  above 60 years of age. There are five members in the group, many of whom  have a diagnosis of depression with symptoms of depressed mood,  isolation, and decreased ADL’s. The group session meets once a week for  approximately one hour. The members seem to enjoy social contact with  others, share age-related concerns an issue, along with experiences. In  all group therapy sessions, clients are encouraged to share their  experiences while remaining supportive of one another while offering  feedback. Improvement in physical function, behavioral competence and  symptoms associated with depression has been reported with group therapy  (Sharif et al., 2010).

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Stages of the Group

The stages of  group formation are based on the relationship of each group member.  Forming of the group can occur when new members enter the group and get  to know each other. The members of the group are welcoming to new  members but are also reluctant to share new experiences during their  initial encounter. Storming can be identified within this group as  conflict among group members usually due to differences of opinions or  beliefs. The members of this group can discuss their feelings as well as  disagreements. Norming then occurs when group members have attended  group sessions for a lengthy period. The last stage is performing;  members of the group are benefiting from therapy. Group members have  formed a bond with one another while remaining open to new group  members.

Resistance or Issues Presented

The members remain  active participants of group therapy, but one specific client tends to  interrupt other members. As the group facilitator, he is often reminded  to allow others the time to participate. Also, during group activities,  he refuses to comply with scheduled activity or has been known to  suggest a different activity. It is not possible to tailor a treatment  plan to each group member, but the wishes of each member are considered.  As far as resistance, the only noticeable resistance in the group is  when new members join group therapy. Members have shared intimate  feelings and experiences when new members join; it is challenging to  continue with open communication. Motivational interviewing is often  used when resistance or issues are presented.

Group Challenges

Challenges exist  in group therapy. Intragroup conflicts occur due to different beliefs.  Once a conflict is acknowledged, steps can be taken to overcome it. If a  conflict is ignored, it will continue as a conflict or be exaggerated.  To ensure the psychotherapeutic process, one must understand what  attributes might affect adult psychotherapy and this requires an  understanding of individual, family, collective, and systemic issues  within older adults (Wheeler, 2014).