Have you experienced studying with a teacher and then gone out into the world to be pleasantly surprised by your progress and improved skills? It’s always rewarding to see hard work pay off. Likewise, the discoveries made, when moving from individual therapy to group therapy, provide unlimited opportunities for growth. These lessons bring positive change into all our relationships – whether they be with friends, family, co-workers, health, finances or any of life’s daily myriad issues.
As we learn from individual therapy – the ego can present us with some pretty tough challenges. Put a group of egos together and the learning possibilities multiply with each encounter. And what is the ego but our false ideas about ourselves projected from our minds out into our world of relationships? Conveniently, group therapy provides a vast array of our projections ready to be observed, explored, examined and finally, released. As we come face to face with many mirrors of our unloving thoughts staring back at us, the group becomes the laboratory wherein we test and apply the knowledge we’ve gained in individual therapy.
Group Therapy as Classroom For Learning
Thus, the decision to change our minds about ourselves as victims – and others as victimizers – may be swiftly accommodated in the “classroom” of group therapy. In individual therapy we learn to love ourselves – make peace with ourselves. In group therapy, we extend that love and peace, advancing the healing of our minds as we see others from this new perspective.
That is the goal – to change our minds – our perspective. The pain that comes from judging ourselves and others becomes too much to bear. Relief from pain drives our motivation. Through group therapy, we practice how to stop the pain, the judgments, and fear based decisions. We come to realize that we make a choice to love ourselves through loving others. What we give to them – acceptance, peace, love – or anger and blame, we receive ourselves. We can face our darkest shadows and emerge unscathed and whole again. The group becomes a place where we can accept, with true empathy and compassion, the pleas of others for that same mercy and love we all desire. As the group reflects our choices back to us, we learn to empower ourselves with the strength of our decisions. Consequently, we grow in understanding and take responsibility for our own lives.
Group Therapy as Process to Practical Living
Ultimately, we want to accept ourselves and others in a truly, loving kind way. Group therapy moves the process from an intellectual understanding to the practical application within real relationships.
We seek to uncover the peace within our minds so that we can bring it with us into every situation and relationship. Group therapy provides a setting where one can question and examine the thoughts that block this peace. Working together with others allows the unfolding of social, intellectual and emotional exchanges – in a non-judgmental, safe environment. We can think of group therapy as a progressive step that leads to our ultimate, happy goal – the “Real Self” – the one we’ve always been searching for.
Photo credit: Nicholas Swanson