When a tragedy occurs or we encounter difficult periods in our lives, the healthy thing to do is to seek professional help from a qualified mental health therapist. Having a professional to talk to who can help us work out our issues will help us heal and become stronger people. In addition, many people benefit from supplemental group therapy as well. Knowing you have a support system of people who have faced similar issues is very good for your well-being.
Women tend to be especially comfortable joining a women’s group for the issues they are facing. They may not get the support they need from their family and friends, or they may feel like no one in their lives understands what they need. There are many circumstances that lead women to seek out group therapy sessions, and there is never a wrong time to rely on the support of others. Whether you have suffered through a situational hardship like a divorce, you’re recovering from an abusive past or you just need to boost your self-esteem, a women’s group can be very beneficial.
Of course, just like with anything else, you’ll get out of group therapy what you put it into it. Here are some tips and guidelines for getting the most out of your group therapy sessions:
- Define your goals. Before you go to your first session, get clear on what your goals are. Review those goals often, but be flexible—you might be surprised to find that your goals change throughout the process.
- Focus on what is most important to you. What is concerning about your life, and what are you ready to let go of? Group sessions will help you recognize patterns that contribute to your issues. Your time will be limited and shared with others, so it is important to focus on these main ideas.
- Listen. You will be surprised by how much you learn about yourself just by listening to others. A woman who is at a completely different place in her life than you are, and who has been through an entirely different thing, might have some things to say that really resonate with you. Always listen to others.
- Remember that how people act is just as important to what they say. Watch for nonverbal behaviors and body language and talk about what you notice.
- Be honest about your feelings and express your emotions genuinely. Even if some of the thoughts you have aren’t pretty, don’t be afraid to speak your mind. It can be scary opening up in front of a group you don’t know well, but group therapy follows “group rules,” no “society’s rules.” The others are not there to judge you, and some probably share your thoughts or have in the past. And take the risk and be emotionally vulnerable in front of the others—the release of emotions in a safe space is healthy and healing.
Dr. Tucker, a Plano psychiatrist, and his wife, Desiree, lead a women’s group session at their office. Call 888-972-2178 if you’re interested in more information.