What does it mean? What happens in these groups? Is it something I can explore?
There are so many questions that come to mind; Yes, I get it. While there is curiosity, there is also a lot of hesitation to approach and know about such groups as well.
Here is a simple guide, to
Types of groups
Purpose & benefits of groups in mental health
What happens in these groups
How to be a part of the groups
As a participant how do I access and conduct myself in the groups?
Let’s start with what does ‘groups’ in counseling/therapy mean.
Groups in the Mental Health field refer to private, safe and confidential among participant spaces where individuals with similar needs/distress come together.
For example, there are groups for anger management, self care, loneliness, caregivers, etc.
To do what, you ask?
These groups bring such individuals together to share, relate, support and learn from each other. These groups let individuals often see their distress or need as not invalid or not just a ‘me’ problem. Rather to be aware of other individuals also experiencing and surviving through similar disturbances.
TYPES OF GROUPS
There are different kinds of groups, with different kinds of benefits and participation expected in each. Refer this Instagram post for snippets on it:
BENEFITS OF GROUPS
While each group has its unique benefits, some of the common benefits are:
Support of the group: Often individuals cannot get the kind of support they need from those who have not walked in their shoes. It doesn’t seem as alone traversing through the distress when part of these groups. For example, for someone who has lost a child, the empathy or support extended by a friend would be different when they interact, listen and share their experience with other couples who have also lost a child; be in terms of coming to terms with the event, self-blaming, the readiness or choice of another baby, etc.
Co-regulation for our wellbeing: As humans, it has been researched that we have a tendency to feel safe and for our nervous system also to be calm when it is in a conducive group and with fellow humans (Polyvagal theory, Dr. Steven Porges).
Exchanging various coping mechanisms and resources: When interacting in a group, one has the opportunity to learn and accept other ways of perceiving and managing the distress. In a group, participants can exchange the different ways of coping they each have been using which could seem very novel to others. It also feels encouraging and motivating to survive and try other ways of coping other than what one has been using.
Instills hope: In such groups, seeing other individuals having gone through similar (if not the same) concern overcome and still surviving; it can be a great source of psychological strength and hope for one’s own self.
Knowing now the benefits of groups, want to know how a group works? and as a participant how are you to behave in such groups? I have got you covered on that front as well.
WHAT HAPPENS IN GROUPS
Groups usually work through the theme by allowing each member to share, discuss often through certain researched and carefully designed activities along with the talks. These groups are well paced and with a certain no. of participants to ensure the comfort and time to each individual. In the groups, the nature and state of each individual is taken into account, and accommodated for, as well.
HOW ARE YOU EXPECTED TO SHOW UP AS A PARTICIPANT
As a participant, you are expected to,
Participate as much as you’re comfortable with. You do have the comfort to limit or pass on certain aspects of the group work that are overwhelming and too much for you
Keep the sharing and the processes of the group confidential. This means not discussing the specific activities and sharings of the group members. Also, to not disclose the name and other identity details of any group member.
Keep oneself open to stay with different experiences of the group members, even in a similar distress as yours. Refrain from correcting someone.
This can itself feel a lot of information, at once. I hope it helped you feel better informed and comfortable with group work that mental health space has to offer. In case of further questions, or interest in joining groups, do write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org
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