This is my experience, my opinion, and may not be held by everyone here at blink. But that’s okay, we all respond differently and have a variation of experiences.
Oh, hello again. My last blog post was about the struggle, frustration and perseverance involved in getting some help for my mental illness. This is more about the way that help (specifically talking therapies) can be delivered. I’m not going to get into psychotherapy or CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or any specifics like that. I’m just going to talk briefly about group therapy.
Therapy in any form is not easy. It requires a lot of hard work, commitment, and perseverance on our part. Anyone who engages in talking therapy of any kind is making a huge step in the direction of recovery and management of their condition and that alone is a massive achievement.
Firstly, I can understand that when we’re in a bit of a messy situation mentally, being put in a group may feel like we aren't being valued enough to have 1-1 therapy. This is not true. I’ve found in general that being part of a group can be really effective, and here’s a quick list of reasons why:
Facilitated by a therapist
This isn’t a group of people having a chat, this is a therapeutic group, and the therapist will make sure that the conversations and experiences that get brought up will have positive outcomes. We are still receiving treatment by a qualified professional.
If we see the same people each week, we get to know them, their stories. We may even make social connections that last after the therapy has ended. Because of this, it may even be more useful to be challenged by peers, people we’re going on this journey with, instead of a therapist.
It is so easy to help other people
Have you noticed that when other people are in a mess mentally it's really easy to see what they need to do to help themselves? So if we are in a group we can actively help people, we can be the compassionate, understanding, helpful person that we can never normally be towards ourselves. Because of this, we feel good for helping others, we can see their experiences reflecting our own and we may even realise we need to take our own advice. We relate to others, we feel less alone.
It is so easy to help other people
Let’s just flip my previous point. We’ll be sitting with a whole team of peers and a therapist, who may well just see the direction out of our struggle. Furthermore, these are lovely, considerate, understanding and supportive people who are relating to us and so will offer advice and challenge us in a way we may not be able to see ourselves through the fog of mental ill health.
On this point, Mike (from Blink) adds “in group therapy I met people from all walks of life that I never thought I would have things in common with. Group therapy was amazing, it connected me to other people as we could relate to each other’s struggles”.
I’m not saying that group therapy is better than 1-1, I don’t think anyone can say that. For me, a mixture of groups and 1-1 time have been the most useful for me – to gain perspective, understanding and acceptance of myself, while also being able to delve deeper into my specific problems and past traumas. We are all different and what works for one may not work for another. But please try to engage in all the interventions offered or available to you. You can’t say that something doesn’t help unless you commit to do the work.