Have you ever felt alone in your struggle? Do you feel like no one understands? Cameray Child and Family Services is here to help by offering a variety of services including group therapy. Group therapy may be a way for you to connect with others while getting the support and information you need to face difficult situations. According to PsychCentral here are 5 Benefits of Group Therapy:
- Group therapy helps you realize you’re not alone.
According to Irvin D. Yalom, M.D., in The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, “Many patients enter therapy with the disquieting thought that they are unique in their wretchedness, that they alone have certain frightening or unacceptable problems, thoughts, impulses and fantasies.”
While it’s true that each of us is unique and may have unique circumstances, none of us is alone in our struggles.
For instance, for years, Yalom has asked members of a process group to anonymously write down the one thing they wouldn’t share in the group. Members included medical students, psychiatric residents, nurses, psychiatric technicians and Peace Corps volunteers.
The secrets were “startlingly similar,” he writes. Several themes emerged: People believed they were inadequate and incompetent. They felt alienated and worried they couldn’t care for or love another person. And the third category included some kind of sexual secret.
As Ali Miller, MFT, said, group therapy reduces isolation and alienation. It increases the sense that “we’re all in this together,” and normalizes suffering, she said.
- Group therapy facilitates giving and receiving support.
One misconception about group therapy is that members take turns receiving individual therapy from the therapist while others observe, Miller said.
However, as she clarified, members are actually encouraged to turn to each other for support, feedback and connection, instead of getting all of that from the clinician.
Miller shared this example: One member feels isolated and lonely, and doesn’t know how to make friends. The group supports her by listening when she talks and engaging with her the entire session, which by itself decreases her sense of isolation. The members also share their own experiences. And they share how they’ve navigated loneliness or overcome isolation, “offering hope, inspiration, encouragement, and sometimes suggestions.”
- Group therapy helps you find your “voice.”
Miller defined voice as “becoming aware of your own feelings and needs and expressing them.” In her groups, she strongly encourages members to notice how they’re feeling throughout the session and to talk about it.
“Many people don’t know how they are feeling when they are interacting with other people, because it can be challenging to be self-connected when connecting with others. This is one of the things I focus on most in my groups.”
- Group therapy helps you relate to others (and yourself) in healthier ways.
Often people don’t understand why their relationships aren’t working, said Judye Hess, Ph.D, who has taught Group Dynamics at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. “In the safe atmosphere of group therapy, members can get honest feedback from others who care about them to one degree or another.”
For instance, according to Hess, members might say: “I would like to get closer to you, but you always seem to keep me at a distance,” “It bugs me that you are always the one to break the silence” and “When you are sharing something, I get impatient, because it takes so long for you to get to the point.”
Groups provide the opportunity to see just how people relate to others in the moment, and how they relate to themselves, Miller said.
- Group therapy provides a safety net.
In Miller’s groups, called “Authentic Connection,” members struggle with being authentic and speaking up for themselves in their lives. They practice these skills in the group, and as they do, their confidence for practicing them outside the group grows.
They’re also able to carry the groups’ support with them between sessions, making it easier to take risks, she said. “[I]f you know you can report back to a group of people who care about you and will listen to your experience, you tend to feel braver. Knowing someone will catch you if you fall emboldens you to leap. The group becomes the net.”
In addition to strengthening your relationship skills, reducing isolation and finding your voice, group therapy also is especially valuable for individuals dealing with depression, social anxiety and life transitions, Miller said.
Cameray Child and Family Services continues to offer a range of group therapy through our Parent Support Program (PSP) and Counselling Program. PSP provides group support to parents of children under 5, and releases there calendar of groups on a monthly basis. For October 2016 calendar please click here.
The Counselling Program currently offers Connect Parent Group and psychoeducational groups for pre-teen and teen survivors of sexual abuse. If you are interested in hearing more information about our groups please contact your counsellor or make a referral.