When most people think of going into therapy or coaching, they may be assuming that the best work for them is on an individual-only basis. However, there is significant evidence to suggest that various types of group work can be beneficial and in fact lend extra support to supercharge whatever therapy/coaching goals the individual may have. Group work can even help uncover new goals that otherwise may have been overlooked on an individual basis. If you’ve ever thought about getting into group work, or perhaps someone in your life has suggested it at one time or another, here is some helpful information about the benefits!
One of my favorite aspects of group work is the same thing that initially intimidated me and made me feel guarded about doing it. It’s the community connection. Whether it’s a trauma healing group, a spiritual group, a social skills group for kids, a twelve-step group, or a coaching group, everyone present is there for a reason. Not only are they seeking something for themselves as individuals, but they were brought there by their own spiritual intervention for their own healing. When I attended Dharma School, I was scared as hell of sharing my story and the worst things I’ve ever believed about myself in front of a room full of strangers. But it was a requirement, and I trusted the process so I did it. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. For the first time, I allowed myself to be cradled by fellow healing souls who all showed up authentically to heal as well. I also got a chance to help and witness them in their own healing journey, which only amplified the power of my experience. According to Erica Wilcox, owner of Wilcox Wellness, LLC and leader of a women’s trauma recovery group, When a group of trauma survivors gather together for the purpose recovery, it is their unspeakable pain that initially binds them together. It is like being a part of a secret club that nobody wants to be a part of, but yet they are.They gather in their vulnerability, their bravery, their hurt. There is a deep knowing and connection between trauma survivors that is also unspeakable. A profound dichotomy takes place at the start of any trauma recovery group. Silence is what perpetuates their pain yet it i It is their silence that also initially connects them.They know, "Me Too". They must honor, hold space and bear witness to the pain in order to create purpose out of it so that they then can begin to re-write the story. Then, a beautifully powerful shift starts to root itself. When they can put words their experience and know, I mean TRULY KNOW. that they are not alone, this becomes the new normal because, afterall, knowledge is power. And the power of knowing that you are not alone, that what you have experienced was indeed trauma, that your trauma is valid, that that there is hope for healing, , then, beautiful soul, then you can rebuild. Their trust in themselves and others can be restored and their lives can be renewed.” (You should check out her group, she’s amazing! Her website is www.wilcoxwellness.com)
The sense of community in a group allows members to feel held and also to do the holding, You are a valuable, skilled individual just looking for a community of similar people to bond with- we all are. You have incredible insights and skills to offer. Group work allows you to do this!
In a group setting, you may also learn about yourself while someone else is processing or discussing something you may not have thought to consider. For example, if you’re more of an intellectual thinker, they may approach the same topic in a very different and thought-provoking way. You may also present a practical and intellectual approach to something others may not have considered.
Groups are also microcosms of the world at large. Conflicts that may arise between members (which is a majorly POSITIVE thing when handled correctly by the facilitator) provide a chance for two or more members to pause, consider their thoughts/feelings, communicate, and be heard. A skilled group leader will help the situation rather than allow members to berate and abuse one another, and will use the tool of conflict to help promote everyone’s healing.
There are countless other benefits depending on the type of group and the members of it, as well as the structure of the group. The best advice I can give is to educate yourself about the group you’re considering or that is being recommended, and assess how it lines up with your values and goals. I also strongly encourage you to talk with the facilitators and give it a try!
In January, I will be running a women’s Goddess group, which will help members identify the goddess archetypes alive within them, what the devolved and evolved states of those archetypes look like, and how to invoke the most positive qualities of those archetypes through good self-awareness and self-care. We will have experiential exercises, sacred space, and take-home journaling exercises in this six-week group which will meet on Saturday afternoons. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com!
Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC
Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.