The Disadvantages of Group Sessions

A group therapy session can have some disadvantages.
A group therapy session can have some disadvantages. (Image: Paul Sutherland/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Group sessions have their place as an effective method in both research and development and therapy. Though they have their clear advantages, group sessions do have disadvantages that can affect the overall reasons for using a group session to begin with. These disadvantages can range from social phobias to personality clashes among the members themselves. Before using a group session, it is important to understand these disadvantages.

Social Phobias

There are individuals that get nervous about being in social situations or speaking in front of people. A group session requires individuals to come together, talk amongst themselves and often address the entire group on their own. Fears of interacting with other people or speaking in front of others can make it difficult for individuals in the group to be forthcoming and create results.

Personality Clashes

In any situation where there is more than one person, there are going to be different personalities. Different personalities can obviously clash when they disagree; therefore changing the outcome of the session. A dominant personality can also influence the way the rest of the group acts, which can make it difficult for others to air their own opinions.


In a group setting there is little to no privacy. Individuals are there to share their opinions, past experiences and emotions among a group of people. This can make individuals reluctant to share personal emotions or issues and especially those feelings that are very private to that person.

In group therapy, for example, a person may not feel comfortable opening up about past abuse to a group of people but may feel more comfortable one-on-one with her therapist. There is also the risk factor of confidentiality. When there is a large group of people one may break confidentiality and share information said in a private group session with others outside of that group.


In a group setting there will be opinions and comments projected towards what other group members say. Some comments can be taken in a hostile manner or emotionally affect other members in the group. The fear of receiving further comments can make group members not as apt to participate or hide information for fear of receiving aggression or further hostile comments.


There is less trust in a group session than one-on-one sessions. Individuals in group therapy sessions, for example, may not be able to trust each member of the group with their personal secrets and therefore may not share them. In focus group sessions individuals may feel obligated to put their best personality forward, rather than being truthful in the study for fear of rejection by others. A one-on-one session, on the other hand, gives the individual more freedom to trust and feel comfortable sharing without fear of rejection.

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