Posted by cubic_me on March 31, 2007, at 16:23:09
In reply to Group therapy is hard, posted by Daisym on March 31, 2007, at 0:31:23
Daisy I understand exactly where you're coming from, I had very similar experiences in group.
> I get all mixed up about why I am there and if it is even worth all the angst. I'm not attached in anyway to the group, except intellectually. I missed last week and didn't even think about it. So why do I go?
I was the same, I was interested from a theoretical point of view, but didn't feel involved, or that any real emotion was invested in the group like it was with my T. Perhaps because there are so many more people than the intense one on one relationship with a T, perhaps because the group just wasn't working for me (or you) at that time.
> 1) I started going to dilute my dependency with my therapist. That didn't happen. If anything, I'm more attached than ever.
I had to trade my T in for group (the center only did one or the other), so I don't have personal experience of this, but I can see how if you're having a hard time in group you might need more support when you see your T. Group is meant to be like testing out things before you do it "for real" in the outside world, and if it's not working, that can be pretty scary and some validation can really help. Though I may be way off the mark here.
> 2) I go to practice "telling."
I went for that reason too, plus a few others, but found most people in the group had difficulty socialising in general, which wasn't a problem for me.
> 3) I went looking for a shortcut through all these feelings -- like someone else might have a magic answer. They didn't
Don't we all, you think maybe if you just try one more thing you'll feel better.
> 4) I'm trying to not be so together but rather more vulnerable with people.
I suppose that goes with the being able to "tell", but also about showing emotions generally. I can see why group can help some people with that.
> So I know pretty clearly that group could be good for me. But the truth is, I feel excluded a lot of the time. The therapist for the group seems to not really know what to do with me, she says, "that makes sense to me" a lot. I share, but then I have my own insights and strategies so there is no real need for "help."
I can really relate to this, it makes you think you don't need to be there, like there's no point. But Have you thought about why you might be excluded? Are you different from the other group members in any particular way? Are they working on different things to you? Or something else?
> I've told the details of one abuse episode only once. From that I learned that I don't want "gee that was awful" feedback. What I need is "we believe you and it wasn't your fault." It was hard to tell them that but I did. But since then I haven't shared again, even though we agreed to take turns and no one has asked me to share anything. It is hard not to read that as "your story was too hard to hear" OR "what the heck are you complaining about, that was nothing." (Amazing how my brain works, isn't it?)
I also shared only once, about my self harm. The subject was glossed over and never discussed again, while when other people disclosed it felt that they at least got 10mins of discussion about the topic. It was a massive thing for me to talk about, but getting no feedback made me even less likely to disclose outside of group. I don't think it's anything to do with you (or me) that they didn't respond in the way which you would've liked, they're in therapy for a reason too, and perhaps they don't relate to people too well, or find it hard to say the right things. I think that in my situation people may not have wanted to discuss it further because they didn't understand it or were scared for my safety, though at the time I felt rejected. After that episode (about a month in) I didn't really speak again.
>And then one of our group members (we are currently a very small group of three plus the therapist since we've lost two) told us that she and her individual therapist have decided that she needs to not be so immersed in abuse "stuff" so she is letting it go and allowing forgiveness into her life/heart. I'm really glad for her, I want her to find peace. Our therapist said, "you are experiencing healing." I felt upset, like I'm doing it all wrong because not only do I not feel forgiveness, I don't want to. I'm angry and I want everyone to know I'm angry.
Geesh that's hard to hear when you're having such a tough time. It's hard when those emotions build up inside when you're in the group, but you just can't express them.
> This week I did about a 10 minute check in (at the most) and then someone else talked for like 1/2 hour. There was a lot of back and forth between her and the therapist. (She said, "makes sense to me" when I summed up). After that, another group member talked about how hard it is to be herself when she feels vulnerable. The therapist actually turned to another group member and asked her what she thought about that and essentially the three of them talked about it.
I was sort of stung, particularly since I said during my own check in that I was struggling with wanting to be vulnerable with someone but it felt terrifying to want that. And then about 10 minutes before group ended, she turns to me and says, "you've been awfully quiet tonight." You think?! I said something stupid about being able to relate.
That sounds like very poor time management on the group leader's part, but better than the one I had (we had no check ins, and no allocated time, people just talked when they wanted to). The longer it goes on, the more excluded you'll feel and the less you'll talk (and the circle goes on), is there any way you could confront it now? Perhaps in your check in by saying you've felt a little left out recently and would like to find a way to feel more included? I know it's hard, but I wasted a year of group because I felt excluded from week 4, 1.5hrs a week for 52 weeks is a lot of time in my life that I could've used better, even if I was intellectually interested in the concept of group therapy!!
> I'm trying to sort this out. I talked it over with my therapist. I gave him the facts in as unbiased way as I could. He said he thinks I'm right, I am being left out, or "dropped" some. But he thinks I'm making myself invisible, which is something I'm really good at. And not talking about my anger, the idea that telling stories is wrong, is like not acknowledging the elephant in the room. He pointed out that this is another thing I'm good at, just going along and making it all OK. He said it is an opportunity to practice "not being so damn nice." It is possible that I present in such a way that I never look like I need help or have confidence issues. But I do.
I think he's right to a point. But it's not going to do you any good if you keep revealing things and keep getting a response that upsets you. I think you need to broach the subject of how people responding makes you feel before you make those disclosures, so it can be a bit easier on you.
> Group is just hard. Any tips, other than running away?
I used to fantasize about running away, or jumping out the window, or hiding under my chair. Sometimes I was moments away from doing it, but I never would, I'm too "good" (!)
Do you get on with the group therapist? Do you think it *could* work? Does your T think it could work? If you really don't think this group is for you, admit it and move on, but if you think there's a chance of it working it's worth giving it your best shot. Even saying hardly anything I got quite a bit out of group, and it was a good way to change from weekly T sessions to noting at all, like a tapered transition.