Social-work groups are therapeutic groups with two or more patients, facilitated by a licensed therapist with a Master's degree in social work. Some programs, for example, substance abuse programs, allow those with a Bachelor's degree as a facilitator or therapist. A social-work group creates a protective environment in which individuals confronting some of the same issues can have their needs addressed in a group setting.
Support groups help individuals who are coping with a situation or condition in their lives--for example, divorce, depression, cancer or other diseases. Support groups teach patients coping techniques while offering emotional support and understanding. Therapists use linking techniques to connect patients to each other and form support networks, and empathy techniques to establish a group mood that is supportive and understanding. Patients attend support groups for extended periods of time, work through individual issues and learn new coping mechanisms.
Educational groups are designed to teach patients about a condition or situation--for example, teen drug awareness, diabetes or heart-attack recovery. Educational groups give patients an opportunity to learn about a condition, ask questions, discuss fears or concerns and/or improve or cope with a condition. Therapists encourage patients to ask questions and establish a supportive, nonjudgmental environment that is mutually beneficial to all participants.
The basis of a growth group is some area of personal concern in which individuals wish to become more proficient: for example, interpersonal communication, sensitivity training or motivation. Patients practice new skills or learn new social techniques. Growth groups offer emotional and psychological support while providing information and instruction about how to change old habits and learn new ones.
Therapy groups facilitate recovery or rehabilitation after clients suffer trauma or injury, or they can be used to help people who have experienced a sudden change in their life circumstances. A client may have been the victim of a violent crime, suffered a serious disease, or experienced some other traumatic event. A therapist often asks clients to speak in rounds about their experiences, which ensures that everyone contributes, and he encourages everyone to listen and show empathy. Clients are taught coping methods to deal with a painful or frightening event. People who are experiencing a life transition, such as a divorce, death of a spouse or "empty-nest syndrome," can also benefit from participating in group therapy.