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Process Group vs. Skills Group: What’s the Difference?

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Struggling to find the right group? Read more to find out which group modality may be right for you.

Within the field of therapy, multiple approaches exist, each tailored to meet the distinct needs of individuals. A common question arises when deciding between joining a skills group or a process group. Both have unique benefits, but understanding their distinct characteristics can be beneficial in understanding the approach that fits your goals best. Let’s delve deeper into the nuanced differences between these two group modalities.

Skills Groups: Structured Learning

Skills groups are often characterized by their structured and educational approach. They operate like a workshop or a class, focusing on teaching participants specific, practical skills to cope with, manage, and overcome various psychological and emotional challenges. The curriculum might cover stress management techniques, emotional regulation, social skills, or coping mechanisms tailored to specific issues like anxiety or depression.

The environment in a skills group is instructional. Participants learn from a facilitator who imparts these coping strategies, offering opportunities for practice and feedback. Interaction among participants exists but is generally directed and managed to maintain the group's educational focus.

Process Groups: Emotional Exploration

Process groups, contrastingly, are characterized by their focus on emotional exploration and interpersonal dynamics. These groups do not have the structured curriculum of skills groups. Instead, they offer a space for participants to share personal experiences, feelings, and thoughts in a supportive and confidential setting.

The facilitator in a process group plays a less directive role, often allowing participants to guide the discussion. The emphasis is on group interaction, fostering an environment of support, feedback, and shared experience. This approach aims to enhance self-awareness, explore relational dynamics, and promote personal growth through shared experiences and insights.

The Core Differences

Focus: Skills groups center around learning practical coping mechanisms and strategies, while process groups focus on emotional exploration and interpersonal dynamics.

Structure: Skills groups are typically more structured, with a set curriculum and explicit goals for each session. Process groups are more fluid, with discussions often emerging organically from participants' shared experiences.

Facilitation: In skills groups, facilitators adopt a more instructional role, while in process groups, they act as guides to foster a supportive and interactive environment.

Participant Interaction: Skills groups might offer limited interaction as the focus is on learning and practicing new skills. In contrast, process groups thrive on participant interaction, sharing, and feedback.

Choosing the Right Fit

The decision between a skills group vs. process group ultimately depends on your individual needs, the specific challenges you’re facing, and your goals for therapy. Skills groups can be particularly beneficial for those seeking concrete tools and strategies to navigate their emotional world, while process groups may appeal to individuals interested in exploring their emotional patterns and relational dynamics in depth.

Both modalities offer valuable pathways to enhanced well-being, each with its unique approach to fostering personal growth, resilience, and emotional health. It may be beneficial to discuss personal goals with a therapist in order to help you determine which group modality best serves your needs.

Our Skills Groups: At PSYCHē, we offer both DBT Skills Groups and RO-DBT Skills Groups. Groups are like a class, not therapy. Learn more about our groups, schedules, or enroll now.


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