Monday, May 25, 2009

Invest in Yourself—You Can’t Give to Others When Your Account is Depleted

Tired of hearing all the gloom and doom about the economy? I know of a commodity worth its weight in gold that can bring you untold treasure when you apply this method. Interested in learning more? Read on to discover more about the benefits of group work.
Are you looking to make changes in your life this year? Would you like to improve your relationships, lose weight, experience less stress, live with more peace, a greater sense of purpose, or feel more empowered? After studying numerous healing methods over the past 20 years, group work ranks as one of my favorites.

What are some of the benefits of group therapy?

What am I going to get out of this, you may ask? I’m not comfortable talking about my problems in front of a group of strangers. Will I have enough time to talk about my own concerns in this setting? What if I don’t like the other members?

I have spent the past 16 years leading groups in various settings and types of situations. From people in career transition, to individuals in all stages of cancer diagnosis and their families, to women’s issues, addiction recovery, children, adolescents, young adults, and stress management concerns; I have experienced the power and efficacy of the group process.

The first thing that people seem to notice and express when participating in a group is feeling like they’re not alone anymore. It’s amazing how we can all come together in our shared humanity and vulnerability in this setting. We may feel different or isolated in our struggles, yet coming together with others reminds us that we are all connected. For so many, this experience alone is healing and liberating.

A group setting can also provide us with perspective. We all have “blind spots” in our lives. Getting feedback from others in a loving and supportive environment can help us to see solutions to our problems that we couldn’t see on our own.

We can also practice new behaviors with fellow group members. Assertive communication, rescripting limiting beliefs and accepting help are just a few examples of practices that can be “role-played” and “tried out” with peers.

How is group therapy different from support groups or self-help groups?

Psychotherapy groups are led by trained professionals and may focus on interpersonal relationships. They may provide a support network for various types of problems or issues. Psychotherapy groups differ from support or self-help groups in that they are smaller (usually 6-10 members), and provide for challenge to change and grow. Support groups are also usually led by professionals, but are geared more toward symptom relief. Self-help groups usually focus on a particular issue, and are not led by a professional. Lastly, coaching groups are usually comprised of highly functioning members who are seeking to increase their ability to reach goals with the help of proactive, resourceful peers.

How do I find the right group for me?

There are free 12-step groups for many issues including, but not limited to: Alcoholism (Alcoholics Anonymous), drug addiction (Narcotics Anonymous), Co-dependency (CoDA), Overeating (OA), and Sex and Love addiction (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.) There are also support groups for family and friends of those dealing with addictions such as Al-Anon for friends and family members of alcoholics, Nar-Anon for friends and family members of addicts, CoDA for Codependents, and COSA for Codependents of Sex Addicts. Many mental health professionals offer groups as a treatment option. The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) also offers a referral list to clinicians. Finally, there are many listings for group coaching sessions which differ from group therapies. Therapists often use a screening process to ensure that a particular group is the right fit for an individual. You can ask questions of the leader such as: Is this a therapy or support group? Next, let the leader know your concerns are and ask if the group is the appropriate place for your journey. And, what background or training do you have related to the needs I have?

I wish you all the best on your journey to Wholeness!

Catherine Baer, MS, MS, LPC maintains a private practice in Marietta, Georgia. She offers individual, couple, and group sessions. She is currently forming group sessions with a coaching flair. This particular series offers many potential benefits. These groups combine the power of therapy with the high level functioning of coaching. Discover solutions to challenges, expand your vision and make small, subtle changes that can dramatically increase your ability to move forward toward your goals. Tap into the synergy of the collective genius of others and live with more Peace, Purpose, and Power in your life.