After treating Alice individually for a number of months, I said, “Alice, I’m inviting you to join my psychotherapy group. It would offer new ways to learn about your self. ”
“I’m intrigued, Christine. How is it different from they way I’m working with you now?”
“Well,” I continued, “first off, let’s consider that we’re all social beings, so the quality of our relationships influences how satisfied we are in life. “
“So true. Mostly what I talk with you about are my relationships at home and at work. That’s the basis of my ups and downs.”
I nodded in agreement, “You and I have talked a lot about the struggles you have with your partner and the pleasure you feel when you two come to an understanding. We’ve also talked about not feeling appreciated at work and how that reminds you of not feeling appreciated by your family. And you’ve told me that I don’t always appreciate the effort you make to come to therapy.”
Alice smiled when I reminded her or our recent friction. I continued, “ A therapy group is like a social laboratory. Sometimes, in interpersonal situations we distort our reactions to the other person because of our own fantasy of who they remind us of. Group allows for these interpersonal situations to be experienced in the present moment and that can be emotionally transformative.”
“How does that work?” Alice asked.
“A small group of people meets with me every other week. They interact in ways that recreate social aspects of their lives by talking about what’s emotionally important to them. The immediacy of the experience allows individuals to get a reality check on their thoughts and feelings triggered in the interactions.
“So we’re all learning about ourselves in the process of talking with each other?”
“Exactly, I affirmed. “It’s a way of gaining insight about how unconscious beliefs impact our current relationships. Interacting with other group members and getting their feedback would help you get insight about the unconscious beliefs that prevent you from enjoying life to the fullest. Instead of delving into past relationships for understanding, we work in the present moment.”
Alice tensed up and timidly asked, “What if I’m too shy and ashamed of what’s going on in my life?”
I smiled again, “No one will expect you to divulge your fears and insecurities right away. In fact, that’s never a wise idea. As you know from your relationship with your partner and your relationship with me, it takes time to develop trust. Don’t rush it, but believe that it’ll happen. Not being alone with your struggles is a wonderful feeling.”
“I’m game. In fact, “Alice grinned, “I’m really looking forward to group.”