Working in tandem as co-therapists has multiple benefits for both the patients and for the group therapists charged with patient care.
When clinicians work together, they learn from each other, watching each other work in the group and gaining valuable skills. The value brought to a therapist’s skill set by way of co-therapy can be as important as coursework. Therapists just beginning their practice have the opportunity to gain practical, hands-on training from a senior peer. Two experienced therapists can benefit from each others’ strengths. Your colleague will inevitably be better at certain aspects of therapy than you. In a co-therapy setting, this can be a valuable opportunity for you to learn “in the trenches,” and broaden your ability to help patients.
Co-therapy also benefits the patients with two trained clinicians working on their behalf. It’s common for one therapist to hear and see things that their peer may have inadvertently missed. It’s that old adage: two heads are better than one. While one therapist is interacting with one patient, the other therapist can observe what is happening with the group and pick up on things that otherwise would be missed.
Furthermore, co-therapists can “tag team” with a patient. For example, if a patient seems to be stuck or having difficulty with one therapist, the co-therapist can step in and help facilitate dialogue — asking the patient how they feel, how they react to the other therapist — and it actually may be easier for the patient to open up to the second therapist.
In our experience, we sometimes see a patient divulge to the co-therapist thoughts and feelings that the primary therapist hadn’t previously discussed with the patient. The patient may feel safer with the co-therapist or perhaps the co-therapist asked a question that the primary therapist hadn’t thought to address. That’s not to say that the patient was trying to hide anything per se, but sometimes a co-therapist is able to illicit responses due to their particular personality and techniques, or because they have a different relationship with a patient.
Altogether, co-therapy offers rewards for the therapy team as well invaluable opportunities for the patients in the group.
To learn more about co-therapy, click here.