Sometimes, I have to admit, I really struggle with my group therapy sessions. I mean, the obvious plus points are finding people with shared experiences, people who totally understand your behaviour and make you feel less alone. People who can become friends.
I have had two very different experiences with group therapy. On the whole, when I was in hospital with anorexia, it was horrendous. Put twenty anxious, self-hating women in a room for an hour and just tell them to talk with the option of sitting in silence for the whole session and the hour will be excruciating. Lots of squirming, staring at the floor and a few muttered confessions just to try and break the suffocating silence. Not good.
Now, in my schema therapy for BPD, the facilitators are great. They don’t push anyone to make confessions if they don’t want to but they encourage talking, they try to make eye contact with people who are disengaging and they are happy to talk when no one else feels able. A much more comfortable and embracing atmosphere.
But I still struggle. I can’t bear seeing strong emotions from the other members. Public tears, anger or even manic humour makes me want to zone out or run away. True, maybe that’s one of my problems, strong emotions scare me, and the group is tackling that, but I can’t bear it. If I go into group in a good mood, I undoubtedly leave in anxious tatters. It makes me want to push the other members away. It makes me lack trust. It can sometimes make me feel so alone and also make me want to be alone. But I would never, ever want them to feel that our group was not somewhere they could emote freely. Sometime, though, I wonder if it is the best thing for me…
Has anyone else ever tackled group therapy and how did you feel about it? Did it help?