Ben came out to their parents as nonbinary and was immediately, literally with bare feet, kicked out of the family home. Alone, scared, and low on options, Ben moved in with a sister they hadn’t spoken to in ten years and switched to a new school. Ben’s sister did her best to be kind, caring, and supportive. She even helped find him a therapist. The therapist and Ben’s sister encouraged them to go to group therapy. When Ben refused, the sister and therapist both (appropriately) dropped it.
Like many people, Ben had a litany of exceptionally valid concerns that became barriers to entering group therapy. For example, Ben was nervous they’d see people from school and, therefore, be outed. And they felt uncomfortable sharing authentically in front of their peers. Of course, Ben has every right to make their own decisions. Still, I wish they had tried group therapy earlier because their (exceptionally common) fears may have dissipated after a week or two of group work, and the benefits of group work can be tremendous.
Instead of focusing on one specific skill today, we will discuss the many benefits of group therapy as an additive to individual treatment.
First of all – what is group therapy? The number of participants and frequency of meetings can vary widely, but here is what is universally true: Group therapy is a safe space where participants receive and provide support from a community of individuals experiencing similar situations.
Here are some reasons to strongly consider group therapy:
Community is vital, especially when experiencing an isolating stressor. Group therapy helps people see (and truly feel) that they are not alone.
Support from people in similar situations is more precisely tailored than support from family or friends who care but don’t necessarily “get it.”
Helping others is an empowering experience that increases self-esteem, pride, and happiness. Talk about a win-win.
It’s not too much of a spoiler to disclose that Ben eventually engages in group therapy, and it’s tremendously helpful. One can only wonder if things may have been a little bit easier sooner if they’d started group therapy when it was first suggested.