January 20, 2019
Is Group Therapy Effective for Depression?
Ask the Experts

Is Group Therapy Effective for Depression?

by Wellness Letter  

Q. Individual psychotherapy can be effec­tive, but one-on-one counseling is expensive and may not be available to everyone. Can group therapy deliver the same results?

A. To find out, researchers from the Center for Primary Health Care Research in Swe­den conducted an eight-week randomized controlled trial with 215 subjects, ranging in age from 20 to 64, who had sought help for various psychiatric complaints, including depression. The study involved only people with mild or moderate symptoms. They were randomly assigned to mindfulness-based group therapy, which includes techniques similar to meditation, or to a control group that employed conventional indi­vidual treatment.

The results, published in European Psy­chiatry in 2017, were encouraging. Both groups showed significant and similar improvements in symptoms, suggesting that the group therapy may deliver the same benefits as individual therapy.

That said, the study had limitations, such as the fact that the follow-up time for evaluating symptoms was only eight weeks. Another limitation is that there was no placebo group, only a comparison between two actual forms of therapy.

This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.

Also see Shining a Light on Depression.