At Apple Orchard, each young person attends group therapy for one and a half hours per week in addition to individual therapy.
Group Therapy has a structured programme, consisting of four core modules each with a specific topic formulated from research regarding static and dynamic risk and strength variables associated with sexually harmful behaviour. However, every session strives to be relevant to the group’s current difficulties and ensures ultimately, that a focus on sexually harmful behaviour is maintained. There are currently three separate groups that run at Apple Orchard. Two groups are arranged by the young peoples’ ability to engage in therapy, level of functioning, and their individual needs, while a third group is specifically for young people who are much more able to show an increased level of maturity and often are looking toward the end of their placement.
The effectiveness of working with young people in groups has long been recognised and it has a particular value with this client group. (Carrell, 1993, Dwivedi, 1993; Duboust & Knight, Malekoff, 2004; Perkins et al, 1999).
Researchers have identified some benefits and clinical advantages of group therapy for young people. These include the following:
- Interaction between individuals that can be utilised to facilitate change;
- The reduction of the likelihood of a therapist entering a collusive relationship with a client;
- Group interactions can help young people to become more open about abuse-related thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and by doing so, begin to address previously unresolved feelings of guilt, anger and anxiety;
- A safe and supportive group can provide an environment in which new skills and ways of thinking can be learned, practised and developed;
- Group Therapy can provide therapists with valuable insights into participants’ motivation to change, since participation in a group typically requires public acknowledgement that there are problems needing to be addressed;
- The group setting affords an environment in which young people who have difficulties in expressing emotions and experiences can learn from others, whilst developing competency in self-disclosure.
- Groups can reduce a sense of isolation; particularly for young people whose problem has a degree of social stigma;
Important interpersonal and social skills can be effectively learned and practised in a group setting;
- Groups allow a range of experiential activities which actively engage young people but may not be practical within adult-child interactions;
- Peer relationships and positive reinforcement are considered to be particularly effective with adolescents