Christine Lacerva, director of The Social Therapy Group in NYC, recently posted a great question on her latest blog:
How do we see the relationship between community building and emotional development?
I very much see the activity of group therapy every week as building community - a therapeutic community. How do we do it and why is it emotionally growthful? Stay with me here: these questions made me think of the BuildABear store, where children create their own custom made teddy bear, instead of buying one ready-made on a shelf. Group Social Therapy is similar.
A group client in my practice, who is finishing her Master’s in Counseling and just completed her group counseling course, shared that our way of doing group is unique. Unlike what she was taught in class, social therapy group is not a ready-made, scripted format created by the therapist to intervene/implement onto clients. And that's the power of our approach: the weird and hard activity of building our therapy together as a team.
“How are we doing? What do we want to do together tonight? Do we have the conditions to talk about this? What the hell are conditions? Are you taking the group with you? How do I do that?!” Exploring regularly questions such as these is the activity of building a therapeutic community together. It is a powerful, messy, confusing, rewarding, difficult, painful, joyful form of community building and therapy- for both my clients and me!
A therapy that is not pre-scripted helps us emotionally. How? It helps us develop tools and skills we can use in living our lives. In the grocery store, at home, at work, in the doctor's office, we can relate to ourselves and others as active co-producers and co-creators of every scene. There is no need for labels such as mentally ill person-healthy person, victim-victimizer, right-wrong. Instead, we can learn to create, improvise, build “the scene” together as we go.
Invitation of the week: Actively ask the question in the various scenes of your life How Do We Want To Do This Together? Let me know what you discover.