This question is often posed when you try to get one of your teenager clients into a therapy group. Some parents seem not be sure of the advantages in doing so. But, in fact, this is the ideal method for teenagers, due to their natural tendency to look for support within a group, making it a place to voice their fears and anguishes.
For a teenager, the group has an important container function and for us, therapists, it makes it easy to get through to them, since as they are talking with each other, they feel supported and understood by the others and begin to feel as though they can speak more freely.
This is especially true with neurotic issues and when the normal teenage crisis evolves to pathologic levels.
However, as with any other kind of therapy, it has some delicate situations as well. First of all, you need to be very careful so the teenagers in question don’t “over-identify” with each other, or you will find trouble trying to evolve the group. It may also prove difficult to close or end the group itself as they may not react so well due to feeling some sort of dependency on it.
Patients with paranoid issues and psychotic features are not adequate for this kind of therapy and you may find some counter-productive results.
It’s also very important to note that sometimes it’s exceptionally hard to determine what is normal and what is pathological during adolescence, so, more than therapeutic, these groups also have an important diagnostic function.