Group therapy is a form of psychotherapy where patients meet to describe and discuss their troubles or difficulties in a group, where certain dynamics within the group are utilized to facilitate healing. The Occupational therapist will be making use of a group to create an environment for the patient, where there is trust, a feeling of belonging and support.  Within this environment, the therapist can create a place of safety where each group member can experience new or changed behaviours. STO uses Life-Skills to empower individuals to co-exist with all negative experiences which might be part of their daily lives. 

At STO we make use of the Yalom-group principles.  Yalom did extensive work in and has introduced the concept of existential psychotherapy.  This means that mental health problems are caused by our struggle to cope with our daily lives (our existence).  In everyday life, we experience certain desires and fears.  According to Yalom, we as humans, struggle with four basic aspects:  isolation, meaninglessness, mortality, and freedom. Yalom described therapeutic factors which will help to create an environment where change and healing can take place within the group.


  1. Instillation of hope  will create feelings of optimism.

  2. Universality helps group members realize that they are not alone, that other people also experience the same desires and problems. 

  3. Sharing of information in the group situation will educate the group members with regards to the specific problem. 

  4. Altruism  will allow members to feel meaningful and valuable because they are able to help someone else.   

  5. Corrective summarizing provides the opportunity to resolve matters for the group members. 

  6. Socialising techniques enhances certain social skills like empathy, tolerance and other social and interpersonal relationship skills.  

  7. Through "copy cat" behaviour (imitation) group members learn new coping strategies and new ways to react to situations from their co-members.

  8. Interpersonal learning teaches clients how to develop supportive interpersonal skills which they can apply in their relationships.

  9. Cohesiveness  in the group will help to make group members feel safe, it will facilitate a sense of belonging, that they are accepted as a person, that they have value and meaning.  

  10. In the process of disclosing certain information to your co-members, the member will be releasing the suppressed emotions (Catharsis), which will facilitate healing.  

  11. Learning how to exist:  Group members needs to learn to accept that life will go on.  That it is normal for us to co-exist with feelings  and experiences such as  pain, death, sadness, regret, joy and desires.  We need to learn how to embrace the experiences in our life, good or bad. By living existentially, clients learn how to accept these conditions without escaping from them. Instead, they learn how to live with them and through them.

Life skills are our abilities and talents, the know-how that is needed to help us participate and cope with situations in our daily lives.   It is our adaptability and coping skills that help us to deal with situations, challenges and experiences which are presented to us every day. Without these skills, we are not able to participate effectively and competently in our lives. 


As individuals, we all function on various levels of participation. In STO we use the Vona du Toit - Model of Creative Ability. Our participation may be passive, imitative, active, competitive or contributive.  The more integrated and developed our skills are, the more competent we will be and the higher our level of functioning will be.

In Group therapy, we deal with individuals who are having difficulty in applying their skills effectively.  We facilitate a safe learning environment where they can gain knowledge,  grow, heal and become more skilled and competent in applying these skills.   

Group members are encouraged to participate in various modules.  The Occupational Therapy groups are being supported by other team members such as Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Social Workers. 

Our Life Skills Program  (LSE)  assists with self-development, such as self-confidence and self-esteem. It is also crucial for psycho-social development. It deals with how the individual comes to view himself/herself, how he/she relates with others and the community at large. It stimulates the formation and maintenance of healthy relationships with family, friends, supervisors, co-workers, patients and their relatives; the very essence of good mental health.  ​

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  • Social and Relationship 

  • Self Knowledge and actualisation

  • Effective Communication, Assertiveness and Conflict Management

  • Time management  and Planning

  • Work Habits

  • Stress Management

  • Productive Problem Solving Skills

  • Motivation skills

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Relaxation therapy groups are presented to teach individuals how to decrease and manage stress and anxiety. 

Informative groups are presented to educate patients with regards to their condition or inability to cope with certain situations.

  • Coping with Depression 

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Craft groups are presented to stimulate active participation and creativity.  Certain group activities help to channel anger, aggression and anxiety. It assists patients in succeeding and in feeling useful and valuable.