Who are you in life? The Victim, Bully, Hero, Loser, Go-getter? Who do you want to be?
There are a lot of misconceptions about group therapy and it may seem quite intimidating at first. You may think it’s easier to talk to one person, instead of a whole room full of people. However, the kind of one-on-one interaction you get with individual therapy might not be what you need.
No one is 100% independent. Group therapy gives you the opportunity to relate with other people and mirrors real-life interactions. The roles that we all assume in our daily lives get played out in group therapy.
As groups start out, one of the first issues that comes up is belonging. You might find yourself thinking, “Am I further along or behind in life”? People may feel closer and more comfortable with some members of the group, but more distant towards others. You will compare yourself to others to try to find where you belong in the group because we actually do this in our everyday lives. That’s why we discuss what challenges people have and what everyone needs to feel comfortable showing up and participating in the group.
People are naturally adaptive and develop coping strategies to avoid feeling pain. You know the story: “Suck it up and move on.” However, these strategies are often self-limiting and harmful. One of the goals in group therapy is to help each person increase their awareness of who they are beyond the current status-quo. Your “other half” is not another person; it’s you. Groups can guide you past societal norms, conventions, and roles that have limited your personal development.
One of the advantages of group therapy is that it provides a safe, supportive environment for you to really experiment and explore who you are. No one has any reason to judge who you are because they are there for the same reason you are – they want support. Instead of comparing yourself to others and worrying about what people think of you, group therapy gives you the opportunity to relate with others and grow together.
Group therapy will help you discover what your “growing edge” is and support you in working towards it. A growing edge is an aspect of your life that you want to improve on but find challenging. It is a personal boundary that you want to challenge and push further towards your ideal goal.
A group atmosphere helps you feel less isolated and promotes healthier social skills. We begin with each member introducing themselves and discussing their intentions of joining the group. Each member discusses what they would like to see happen in the group, and tries to identify their growing edge.
Identifying your growing edge with others helps you maximize the benefits of group therapy because it gives you a goal to work towards and lets others know how they can help you achieve that goal as well.
Our lives are based on a series of adjustments and adaptations. When something doesn’t work, we make a change. Why did you want to read this article? What did you expect to get out of it?
People really want feedback and they want to have a different outcome. Group therapy can help you understand your behaviors and how they affect others. It allows you to relate to others and gives you the strength to put yourself out there and take action. Seeing that others could reveal embarrassing things, take risks, and then benefit from them will help you to do the same.
In studies of what people like most about groups, the key strengths of group therapy are revealed:
“Discovering and accepting previously unknown or unacceptable parts of myself.”
“Being able to say what’s bothering me rather than holding it in.”
“Learning about the kind of impression I make on others.”
“Learning how to express my feelings.”
“Expressing negative or positive feelings towards other group members.”
“Learning that I must take ultimate responsibility for the way I live my life no matter how much guidance and support I get from others.”
“Seeing that others could reveal embarrassing things, take risks, and then benefit from them makes me feel like I can do the same.”
“Feeling more trustful of groups and other people.”
All of these factors illustrate that there is a basic need to connect and flourish. Group therapy will help you learn things you didn’t know about yourself or others. Knowing creates clarity and empowerment; the more you know the more empowered you feel.