Group Psychotherapy: Creating a Cohesive Team


Society should always be cohesive and united because only such a state of mind promotes the development and reduces the level of aggression. People who have good relationships trust each other, work better, and are able to delegate responsibilities. The main question is how to create such a cohesive team, where there will be trust and good human relations. There are a large number of psychological approaches to groups of individuals, one of which is group psychotherapy, to achieve this goal. A group of teenagers with complexes related to sports and physical activity will be taken as an example to apply such practices.

What is Team-Building?

The first step of group therapy is to build trust between teenagers, to get to know each other, and to create a kind of mental connection and a sense of peace of mind that an individual is not the worst or the most special. Type of interaction with the group, called team-building, the essence of which is the process of turning a group of individuals into a cohesive team, will help to achieve this goal. A team is a group of teenagers with issues, organized to work interdependently and together to achieve common purposes. Team building begins with daily interaction and jointly solving problems and challenges. This form of team building is natural and simple and sometimes worthwhile to help individuals bond and build relationships through structured team-building programs.

In order to understand whether a certain group of people needs to work extra on team-building, certain aspects must be highlighted and studied by the therapist. First of all, it is necessary to understand whether there are conflicts and disagreements in the group and what they are related to. The next points relate to determining moral support, mutual understanding, and whether there is a clear leader on the team, whose responsibilities will be analyzed in detail later. Identification of all aspects and their shortcomings will allow the creation of a united and cohesive team, which is important to facilitate the fight against the complexes of each member of the group, as well as to increase the effectiveness of interaction with each other.

As the adolescent group will already have one problem that they all have in common, namely difficulties with sports and complexes about their physical attributes or failures in general, the therapist should choose the most appropriate team-building activities. One of these would be play-based interaction, where participants are encouraged to talk about themselves and their problems in a very relaxed and supportive atmosphere.

Immerse each person in the narrative of the issues should be careful not to cause the person to withdraw, but to make it clear that they are not met with ridicule or condemnation. In other words, you need to create a group culture with appropriate norms and rules that apply to all members of the team, which will eliminate embarrassment or reluctance to engage in therapy (Yalom & Leszcz, 2020). In addition, such a culture will make the problem common and will not leave each member alone with their anxieties.

What is a Cohesive Team?

A cohesive team is the basis of the effective work of the company and one of the most important tasks of the therapist. Team-building involves a unified approach to the work process. For individuals from the correct motivation, incentive system, as well as using special methods of personnel management. The process of team building is aimed at the relationships between teenagers, and its goal is the productive organization of working time within the framework of joint activity. The determining factor here becomes the social and psychological mood within the group, as well as the level of mutual respect and trust in the relations of subordinates and managers. As was mentioned before, team cohesion affects the effectiveness and efficiency of group therapy. A team in which mutual respect, trust, and willingness to cooperate prevail is necessary for:

  1. Creation of honest relationships: teenagers suppress conflict situations, openly discuss problems and find ways to solve them;
  2. An understandable control system, with one leader at the helm;
  3. Motivation that makes members productive;
  4. Commitment to corporate culture and compliance with internal ethical standards.

Characteristics of a Cohesive Team

A successful outcome of team-building to build rapport, support, and connection and proceed to the next step should be a cohesive team. Firstly, it will be characterized by having common goals for all teens, which means that everyone contributes and understands, they are trying to accomplish complexes. Secondly, having a mission and values that are clear to the team, and it is important that they are shared by all members, as a commitment to the corporate mission sets the tone for internal communication and interaction with society. Thirdly, by favorable psychological climate, where regardless of temperament or temperament differences, members perform the task and act within their capabilities.

And fourthly, by control over the teens, provided by the team leader, who monitors the execution of plans, is interested in the successes of subordinates and helps with the solution of difficulties. In addition to establishing a cohesive team, the therapist of a group of teenagers with sports complexes faces several other tasks, each of which will be analyzed, and their meaning will be revealed.

The Challenges for the Therapist

The main task is to motivate teenagers correctly and constantly. The main idea for them should be that dealing with problems and dealing with inner self-loathing will be beneficial for them. The members must want to change and strive for the results that will come from their efforts. For example, the emphasis can be placed on the fact that independence and self-sufficiency, which an individual will gain by getting rid of complexes, will make their life and interaction with adolescents much easier.

Since children in the pubertal period and before adulthood are usually violent, it is necessary to build a certain image in front of each teenager, which he should strive for (DeVries & Goldstein, 2017). The final picture of a confident person who is not ashamed of his peers and has a kind of barrier to emotional negativity coming from the outside will look like an effective incentive to work and change.

The next challenge will be to maintain the commitment of the members, which will help the whole therapy journey to the end and will not make it impotent. It is possible that each individual will encounter difficulties and setbacks, and it is usually these factors that can discourage continuation. The advantage of group therapy is that there is an element of competition, with members of the community competing with each other to see who can achieve something faster or better.

Usually, young people and girls have a desire to keep up with their peers, hence the determination will be supported by the group atmosphere. It is important to understand that by setting the right goals for each teenager, the therapist will be able to avoid negative competitions when, for example, one individual puts his victory above everything else. One of the difficulties here is precisely adjusting the goal – the teenager should want to cope with their problems and become freer than they were, but not make it their main task to finish therapy as quickly as possible.

Another point would be to state that the goal of each individual is the goal of the group as a whole. The successful fulfillment of this objective will ensure mutual assistance and team spirit in the group, as each member will feel responsible for the overall result and for the success of their colleagues. And in the opposite case, the individual will not be ashamed and embarrassed for any failures as the realization of that he will not be judged, and will support and help will win internal scruples of conscience.

Moreover, integrity adds value to the experience of each of the teenagers, thus establishing an element of self-learning of the group, in other words, a process in which the members of the group improve each other. Also, it would lead the group to consistency, which is needed to work together quickly and effectively. It indicates harmonious teamwork where employees successfully delegate parts of a large task, share relevant information, and promptly interact with each other. At the same time, there is a low degree of conflict, thanks to the actions of the manager and the timely resolution of contradictions and problems.

Finally, the therapist must build the right system of evaluations and values. This will ensure that all members are equally interested in the effectiveness and outcome of the work. In a friendly team, everyone knows that their piece directly affects the overall result, and therefore gives their all. As a result, the team works cohesively and achieves high performance.

Stages of Work with the Group

In order to adapt and synchronize the work of the whole group, the therapist needs to use different methods. A team goes through five stages of formation, after which there is a mutual understanding and integrity in its work. It is necessary to analyze each of them and understand what they are for:

  1. The stage of approaching. The first contacts and the subsequent formation of relationships always begin with the stage of lapping. It occurs when team members have not previously worked together and do not know who is capable of what. In these cases, teens demonstrate temperament, outlook, assert personal boundaries. At this stage, the psychologist must build relationships in the team.
  2. Conflict stage. Conflicts are an integral part of any team’s work. During this stage, small groups are formed, informal leaders and laggards are identified. To properly overcome this stage, the team needs the attention of a leader who is able to resolve the pending conflict in a timely manner. Intervention is especially required when confrontation or psychological pressure is severe.
  3. Experimental Stage. At this point, conflicts are resolved, and team members are striving for proper organization of work time, personal and professional development. There are still some glitches, mistakes, and misallocation of workload. However, the team gradually evens out its performance and improves its results.
  4. Creative stage. As working relationships develop, leaders emerge who are ready to take responsibility for the result of the teamwork and unite the group in difficult moments. The leader may assign them particularly important tasks and delegate some authority. At this stage, the team does not simply follow a standardized work algorithm but also looks for its own creative approach to the job.
  5. Maturity Stage. At this stage, teens are already getting along, they distribute duties well, understand their area of responsibility, solve all issues calmly and in a disciplined manner. The team is already able to accomplish complex tasks independently and achieve good results due to the overall cohesion.

Recommendations for a Leader

As a result of the analysis of the stages of development of group therapy and the interaction between people within such a group, the need for a leader has been revealed. Almost always, the therapist successfully identifies the leader, as certain qualities of character and social skills are quite pronounced in teamwork. The leader unites the team under his leadership, for which he can use some methods. Leaders must be honest about their own victories and defeats, listen to the opinion of subordinates, and create a team spirit. Group therapy works most effectively and sustainably when teenagers have a team spirit, each performs their role, and achieves long-term goals.

When it comes to communications, every team member should have a voice. Allowing the entire team to give valuable feedback will help them stay engaged and bring them together. When each individual takes the time to evaluate a decision and form an opinion, they become part of the overall effort and want to know that their thoughts are considered in the process. This allows people to feel a sense of ownership of the success, which leads to increased productivity.

Thus, another ‘leaders’ obligation is setting short- and long-term goals for the team also become the foundation of every task they set each day. Setting short- and long-term goals for the team also becomes the foundation of every job they set each day. It’s important to note that goals need to be realistic so that you and your team don’t feel like working without prospects. Having milestones and deadlines can empower team members to help each other and come together for success.

This also brings the team together and allows everyone to see that when a team works cohesively, it can produce excellent results. If someone has done a great job, celebrate it in front of the rest of the team so that the effort is noticed and appreciated. It also helps everyone feel noticed – what they do makes an impact. Conversely, if the team fails, gather together to regroup and turn the fiasco into something positive and do not turn the discussion into an all-out blame game. Instead, the therapist gives the whole team equal responsibility to come together and determine the next steps.

Why Group Therapy is Better than Individual Therapy

Individual therapy can help reflect on one’s history and fears, as well as find the causes of insecurity. It will give the patient a fascinating opportunity to explore the impact of the past on the present. However, individual therapy is ineffective; adolescents have a different goal, as outlined above, and need to find new opportunities for communication and trusting relationships.

Unlike individual counseling, group therapy focuses primarily on relationships. During individual work, psychotherapists listen to clients’ stories about various events. And these stories may be exaggerated, distorted, or inaccurate. When working in groups, psychotherapists can observe relationship problems live. They see sudden expressions of anxiety, notice how your body language changes, and how you build trusting communication.

In other words, in group therapy, you can observe, in real-time, all the complexities that arise when interacting with others. The transformational power of group therapy is that the work is done here and now. Rather than delving into history, group therapy tunes teens into the thoughts and feelings of the present moment, and especially the feelings they have for their peers. The fact is that the therapist, in this case, works with complexes, and they always have a social nature, for example, gender stereotypes about what a guy should be strong and a girl thin (Harris & Moone, 2018). This generates ridicule and mockery, and they, in turn, have complexes.

And from this arises the reasons why group therapy is better than individual therapy in this case. Firstly, group therapy is focused on relations, and the psychotherapist gets an opportunity to observe communication problems in real-time. And secondly, group participants have a chance to learn about effective ways of communication and to train in their application.

Another aspect of the effectiveness of such therapy is the group contrast, which is a way to practice natural, meaningful communication in a safe environment. The group format will improve communication by voicing thoughts and feelings to the audience, associations, memories, and dreams that arise when communicating in the group. In addition, there is an opportunity to respond sincerely to comments and questions from members of the group and to strive to take emotional risks and step out of one’s comfort zone. The therapist creates a safe, orderly environment so that participants in group therapy feel that they are immersed in a certain detached culture.


Team building only happens when appropriate and timely actions to address specific needs are part of your organization’s culture. Training and games help with this, but the way to build a really great team is to start with the basics and supplement them with exercises. The goal of group therapy is to motivate patients to work on their fears and problems together, successfully dealing with all the traumas of society, and build on the members’ strengths and bring up the weak ones. Such therapy encourages cooperation rather than competition, and it is team building that helps to achieve high results, to work toward a common goal. In a cohesive team, everyone feels valued and important, while everyone deals with their own problems in a disjointed team.

In the sphere of interpersonal relationships, during play, in intimate moments, one feels the need for emotional warmth and contact with another person. The social contradictions and bureaucratic entanglements of our society can cause us feelings of confusion, distrust, and powerlessness. However, experiences in specially organized groups counteract alienation by helping to solve problems that arise in interpersonal interaction.

The group turns out to be a microcosm, a society in miniature, reflecting the outside world and adding an ingredient of realism to the artificially created interaction. Such latent factors as partner pressure, social influence, and conformism, which constantly exist in groups at work and in interest groups, in the family, become obvious in a psychologically corrective group, interact and influence individual life attitudes and behavior change.


DeVries, M., Goldstein, S. Handbook of DSM-5 disorders in children and adolescents. Springer International Publishing. 2017.

Harris, D., Moone C. Fighting stereotypes in sports. Abdo Publishing. 2018.

Yalom, I. D., Leszcz M. The theory and practice of group psychotherapy. Basic Books. 2020.

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PsychologyWriting. "Group Psychotherapy: Creating a Cohesive Team." December 1, 2022.