15 Mar The Power of Group Psychotherapy in our lives and how it can help make our society a better place to live in and a better place for our children to Play in.
Group Psychotherapy, why it is good for all of us. As humans we are social animals who remains group-oriented to ensure survival, connection and belonging. Our lives begin in family groups and we function thereafter as members of groups at school, work and in communities. The origin of the power of the group as an agent of change to promote healing lies buried in antiquity. But, as noted by Rutan and Alonso (1979), group psychotherapy, where one’s family and community are represented in the room, provides unique opportunities to work on issues of intimacy and individuation. It is well known that anyone with a history of destructive relationships will continue, long into adult life, continue to attract destructive relationships into their lives as a debilitating and painful life pattern. Group Psychotherapy becomes a very powerful platform to change this pattern as it is explored within a framework of healthy relating within the group. Even for those without a history of overt trauma can carry behaviors from primary relationships as a child and continue these behaviors into adult life even when these behaviors do not serve as healthy prerequisites for healthy, happy and intimate relationships. In a sense these unconscious behaviors get in the way of Life, very often it can be difficult to make sense of why life is not working as we would like or relationships are not as successful as we would like and without a platform such as Group Psychotherapy, it is very difficult to explore these behaviors and work through these early relational patterns that are getting in the way of health and happiness.
“Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it. Whoever has polished it more sees more — more unseen forms become manifest to him.” Rumi
Group psychotherapy as an investment into Emotional Well being
Group psychotherapy is an investment into our emotional health and will do far more for our health then a gym membership or a green juice. Many people see psychotherapy as something you do when there is some chaos in life, a breakdown of a relationship, a divorce, a death in the family, a depression or disorder and although psychotherapy is fantastic for all of those life challenges, psychotherapy can work extremely well without the presence of said life challenges. Psychotherapy can be a powerful platform to engage in a healthy relationship with the therapist and other group participants where conflicts can be resolved in a healthy way and parts of oneself can be transformed. Although you might well be a high functioning member of society, there may be nevertheless some small problematic areas in your life, relationships or career. Perhaps you are not succeeding at the level you desire and you don’t know why, perhaps your relationships are not at the level you would like but don’t know how to change that. Group psychotherapy, the relationship with the therapist and group participants offers a rich human experience through the complex relating and attachment patterns which are explored in a safe, structured, supportive and psychotherapeutic space. There is great power in these revelations; you learn new ways of being, new ways of relating, new ways of seeing yourself and others. This can do more for your career and relationships than anything else.
Group Psychotherapy can be a great springboard to function better in life, love, and relationships and work. We invest in our financial well being with saving schemes, investments, and pensions. We invest in our psychical well being with boot camps and diets and yet in Ireland we do not have a culture of investing in our emotional well being, as a culture we don’t invest anything into our emotional health. Investing in our emotional health can yield great rewards far greater than other investments, this investment into our emotional life and health has the most potential to serve us in both short term and long-term. Trauma Recovery Institute offers a range of groups and specifically a number of groups which are not geared towards depression or trauma but groups for people who function very well in society but are looking to function in the world at a higher level, through participating in group Psychotherapy it’s a platform to work through patterns of behaviour, beliefs and relating style ultimately giving you opportunity to function at the highest possible level in all areas of your life because you are investing in your emotional health.
“In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?” Carl R. Rogers
What is Group Psychotherapy
Group psychotherapy is a special form of therapy in which a small number of people meet together under the guidance of a professionally trained therapist to help themselves and one another. The therapy has been widely used and has been a standard treatment option for over 50 years. Group therapy helps people learn about themselves and improve their interpersonal relationships. It addresses feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety. And it helps people make significant changes so they feel better about the quality of their lives. Group works! In studies comparing group psychotherapy to individual therapy, group therapy has been shown to be as effective and sometimes even more effective. In cases of medical illness, there is substantial evidence that this form of therapy helps people cope better with their illness, enhances the quality of their lives and, in some cases, such as breast cancer, has even been shown to help people live longer. Group therapy, is a widely accepted treatment option and is extremely beneficial in treating trauma. Groups provide a safe, nurturing, accepting environment in which painful feelings and experiences can be shared. Groups allow people to speak the unspeakable. They encourage the reestablishment of trust, validate your experiences and provide access to information from others. They help rebuild self-esteem. Most importantly, through group therapy you discover you’re not alone.
“The truth is, you cannot love yourself unless you have been loved and are loved. The capacity to love cannot be built in isolation.” Bruce D. Perry
What is Trauma
Everyone is affected by trauma or traumatic events during his or her lifetime. And our responses to these events – however moderate or severe – are often normal. Trauma is about the loss of connection-to the self, to others, to nature, to everything. With effective group psychotherapy, our success in healing and restoring these broken connections will increase dramatically. Participating in group psychotherapy to help both prevent and renegotiate trauma is a an important step toward a much larger goal-to experience the joy of being fully human, and to live our lives in relative stability, safety, and peace.
In cases of trauma, there is a whole range of normal reactions, including:
• A sense of terror or catastrophe
• Recognition of grave danger
• Enormous sadness
• A feeling of vulnerability or helplessness
• Outrage and anger
• Relief and guilt about surviving
Some people suffer initially from anxiety, intrusive recollections and difficulty sleeping. Others can’t return to the activity they were doing when the incident occurred. On the other hand, some may act as if “nothing is wrong,” and the only sign of a problem is that he or she may become uncommu- nicative or avoid social contact. Grief is also part of the traumatic experience. Grief is a kind of “normal illness” whereby the body and mind heal from a loss. Therefore, a grieving person also may have transient symptoms like trouble concentrating and sleeping, memory problems, feeling as if life is meaningless or a general lack of enthusiasm for daily living. Following exposure to trauma, many factors can re-arouse or “trigger” intense revivals of our initial reactions. These unexpected reminders lurk at the edge of our awareness and can prompt sudden emotional reactions. Trauma regardless of how subtle and even in cases where we feel we have overcome the trauma and moved on with our lives can still resurface at anytime creating difficulties in our lives.
“As children develop, their brains “mirror” their parent’s brain. In other words, the parent’s own growth and development, or lack of those, impact the child’s brain. As parents become more aware and emotionally healthy, their children reap the rewards and move toward health as well.” Daniel J. Siegel
Change Mechanisms and Effectiveness of Group Psychotherapy
During the last 30 years, studies have shown the growing benefits of group psychotherapy in a number of areas of life challenges. Through groups, individuals find a forum of peer support, gaining strength as they share their feelings and experiences with others who are facing the same obstacles as themselves. Some gain strength in seeing the resourcefulness of those in the same situation, while others renew their feelings of self-worth through assisting others.
During the group process, people develop a support network through each other — no longer feeling isolated by their condition and gaining a greater sense of normalcy. With certain medical conditions, group psychotherapy can contribute to general improvement in one’s psychosocial functioning. Research also has shown that survival rates have, in some cases, actually increased, with proper therapy. Research has demonstrated that various forms of group psychotherapy are equally beneficial with positive results found across the board for a variety of disorders. Group therapy is also cost-effective when compared to individual treatment. When a therapist’s time is spent with an entire group instead of one person, the expense for individuals is significantly reduced while the benefits remain and, in some instances, prove to be even greater.
Group Psychotherapy for Cancer Patients
Many cancer patients have witnessed positive results with group therapy. For patients in the early stages, group therapy helps them deal with their illness in a multitude of ways. For instance, as emotional distress decreases, a person’s social activity, coping and self-esteem has increased. For those in more advanced stages, people have not only gained a greater sense of purpose in life but have also found pain and fatigue to become less of a problem. When those who are unaware or in denial take part in therapy, their deterioration is often lessened, while improvements are enhanced for those already aware of their condition. People who are limited in social and personal resources find group psychotherapy can lead to greater benefits. More compellingly, studies support the value of long-term interactive groups for those with advanced cases of widespread disease. In the case of breast cancer, for example, patients in a group psychotherapy test survived significantly longer than those in the control conditions. Additionally, members of cancer support groups notice a reduction in their amount of pain and stress-related physical problems.
Group Psychotherapy for Addictions and Substance absuse
Support for group therapy as an essential element of substance abuse and addiction treatment is unequivocal and overwhelming. It is rare — if not impossible — to find any treatment program in this country that does not utilize group therapy as a crucial component of its treatment regimen. Recommendations from expert clinical practice guidelines and best research evidence all indicate that it is vital that group therapy remain a staple of substance abuse and addiction treatment. Enthusiastic collaboration from directors of training and Federal guidelines from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) have resulted in the mandate that group therapy be a part of every substance abuser’s treatment. While therapeutic efficiency and cost-effectiveness play an increasingly important role in the utilization of group therapy as the treatment of choice for this population, there are other distinctive features and advantages of group treatment. Over the last twenty years, a general consensus has emerged that group treatment provides a number of unique opportunities for substance abusers to learn about themselves and alter their abuse of substances.
Some of the advantages of group therapy include:
1. mutual identification with and acceptance from others going through similar problems as they learn they are not alone or unique as they struggle with their compulsive use of substances,
2. positive peer support with the abstinence or reduction of substance use,
3. role modeling for abstinence or reduction of substance use is enhanced because the substance abuser has the opportunity to better understand their own attitudes about substance use and their defenses against giving up or reducing substance use by confronting similar attitudes and defenses in others,
4. affiliation, cohesiveness, social support while learning to identify and communicate feelings more directly,
5. structures, discipline and limit setting while permitting experiential learning and exchange of factual information about recovery and drug use,
6. installation of hope, inspiration for the future and the pursuit of shared goals and ideas.
Group Psychotherapy for Character Disorders
Intense group psychotherapy sessions have yielded significant results for people with character disorders. As patients improve interpersonal skills, mood control and self-esteem, dysfunction levels in social and family situations, along with the severity of their disturbance can diminish, leading to an overall improvement in life satisfaction. Group psychotherapy also has helped reduce depression and suicidal tendencies in some instances of personality disorders. Improvement has been shown through working in a variety of different groups and situations, giving patients the opportunity to work with a large number of peers and staff. In such circumstances, patients show improvement solely from group therapy, without having individual treatment. Further, once patients are involved in therapy they may be more apt to experience a reduction in symptoms particular to their specific disorder.
Treatment of Relational and complex Trauma at Trauma Recovery Institute
Trauma Recovery Institute offers unparalleled services and treatment approach through unique individual and group psychotherapy. We specialise in long-term relational trauma recovery, sexual trauma recovery and early childhood trauma recovery. We also offer specialized group psychotherapy for psychotherapists and psychotherapy students, People struggling with addictions and substance abuse, sexual abuse survivors and people looking to function in life at a higher level. Trauma recovery Institute offers a very safe supportive space for deep relational work with highly skilled and experienced psychotherapists accredited with Irish Group Psychotherapy Society (IGPS), which holds the highest accreditation standard in Europe. Trauma Recovery Institute uses a highly structured psychotherapeutic approach called Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP).
At Trauma Recovery Institute we address three of the core Attachment Styles, their origin’s the way they reveal themselves in relationships, and methods for transforming attachment hurt into healing. We use the latest discoveries in Neuroscience which enhances our capacity for deepening intimacy. The foundation for establishing healthy relationships relies on developing secure attachment skills, thus increasing your sensitivity for contingency and relational attunement. According to Allan Schore, the regulatory function of the brain is experience-dependent and he says that, as an infant, our Mother is our whole environment. In our relational trauma recovery approach you will learn to understand how the early patterns of implicit memory – which is pre-verbal, sub-psychological, and non-conceptual – build pathways in our brain that affect our attachment styles. Clinically, we can shift such ingrained associative patterns in our established neural network by bringing in new and different “lived” experiences in the Here and Now.
The Role of the Therapist in transforming attachment trauma: Healing into wholeness takes the active participation of at least one other brain, mind, and body to repair past injuries – and that can be accomplished through a one-to-one therapeutic relationship, a therapeutic group relationship or one that is intimate and loving. In exploring the “age and stage” development of the right hemisphere and prefrontal cortex in childhood, we discover how the presence of a loving caregiver can stimulate certain hormones, which will help support our growing capacity for social engagement and pleasure in all of our relationships. Brain integration leads to connection and love throughout our entire life span. At trauma recovery institute we bring a deep focus to the role of Neuroscience in restoring the brain’s natural attunement to Secure Attachment. Our brain is a social brain – it is primed for connection, not isolation, and its innate quality of plasticity gives it the ability to re-establish, reveal and expand one’s intrinsic healthy attachment system.
Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP) at Trauma Recovery Institute Dublin
Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP) is a highly structured, once to twice weekly-modified psychodynamic treatment based on the psychoanalytic model of object relations. This approach is also informed by the latest in neuroscience, interpersonal neurobiology and attachment theory. As with traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy relationship takes a central role within the treatment and the exploration of internal relational dyads. Our approach differs in that also central to the treatment is the focus on the transference and countertransference, an awareness of shifting bodily states in the present moment and a focus on the client’s external relationships, emotional life and lifestyle.
Dynamic Psychosocialsomatic Psychotherapy (DPP) is an integrative treatment approach for working with complex trauma, borderline personality organization and dissociation. This treatment approach attempts to address the root causes of trauma-based presentations and fragmentation, seeking to help the client heal early experiences of abandonment, neglect, trauma, and attachment loss, that otherwise tend to play out repetitively and cyclically throughout the lifespan in relationship struggles, illness and addictions. Clients enter a highly structured treatment plan, which is created by client and therapist in the contract setting stage. The Treatment plan is contracted for a fixed period of time and at least one individual or group session weekly.
“Talk therapy alone is not enough to address deep rooted trauma that may be stuck in the body, we need also to engage the body in the therapeutic process and engage ourselves as clients and therapists to a complex interrelational therapeutic dyad, right brain to right brain, limbic system to limbic system in order to address and explore trauma that persists in our bodies as adults and influences our adult relationships, thinking and behaviour.”