One of the hardest things about having to face our most distressing inner conflicts is that simply talking or thinking about those issues can induce the anxiety, fear, and turmoil we so want to avoid. Often times people will use their therapist as a quasi container of secrets as the one person they can talk about these issues with. However, while psychotherapy can be an incredibly helpful medium for healing and personal growth, it is actually what happens outside of sessions that determines the efficacy of your time ‘on the couch.’ Working with a counselor can guide you as an individual to a stronger sense of self, autonomy, and mindfulness, but it is actually having the courage to make yourself vulnerable enough to share your experience with others in a supportive community that can do wonders for breaking the shame cycle that so elusively cripples us. This helps many people turn “the” thing that happened to them into “a” thing that happened to them. It is for this reason that I frequently refer and recommend clients to be supplementing their time in counseling with group therapy. This provides additional support in finding their voice, being supported through their struggles, and increasing their sense of connection with others in community by hearing the stories of others, as well.
I am, however, often met with a degree of resistance from clients when suggesting group therapy. Some feel they don’t have the time, others feel as though it sounds “pathetic” (due to the way most media sources portray group therapy as some sort of ‘Breakfast Club’ like feel or a standard AA meeting), and others are simply terrified at the thought of sharing their stories with others. To these concerns and others I typically respond by suggesting they do a bit of research. More specifically, I like to recommend these clients watch the Netflix documentary entitled ‘Mortified.’ More than just an hour long documentary, Mortified is a regular event that happens in various cities throughout the United States (and even some parts of Europe) wherein roughly six adult participants can volunteer to read segments from their high school journals/diaries in front of a live studio audience. Even though some of these journal entries can be incredibly offensive and crude (as they were written by hormonal, angsty, and moody teenagers) it does at least convey a sense of how powerful it can be to share the more intimate moments of our lives in a supportive space with others.