Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Group


I met my friend Kim in group therapy. We really liked each other, but one of the rules of group therapy is no meeting outside the group. This is in order not to form bonds and opinions outside the group. I agree with this rule too.

So, lo and behold, we both got cured on the same night, and after our last session, we went out for a drink. This experience gives us an interesting insight into the other person's psyche. I still see Kim on a regular basis, although it has been five years since the "cure" (A miracle i tell ya) .

Last week we met downtown and did a progressive dinner through the restaurants in Pikes Place Market. And there may have been wine involved as well, i'm not sayin'. We had a blast and got caught up on the latest family shenanegins.

Have you ever been in group therapy? I started in this group after the Mister and i were back together after almost a year of separation. Group therapy is much different than individual or couple's therapy. You have 5 other people there to give their perspective on your shit. Plus the therapist to make sure that no one kills anyone else. Sometimes the people will not listen to you, and everyone else because they can't or won't. This is so frustrating. There was one guy there who would come out and dump this stinking pile of shit into the middle of the room, and then spend the rest of the session telling you why it wasn't shit and didn't stink. As an example, he once told us this story of a girlfriend of his who forced his 12 year old son to eat way more that he wanted. And then he denied that it was abuse. It was hard not to strangle him, but i really liked him and i wanted him to "get it". Nope, not happening.

This group is where i learned that denial pushes one of my buttons. A good thing to think about in group is why the things that drive you mad, drive you mad. Group is not for everyone, we had people who would join for 2 weeks and then bail out after deciding that it was too honest. They were looking for a support group rather than a therapy group. And a few other people joined, and then sat there for several months not saying much, then said goodbye with a "i've learned so much about myself". Bah.

But it was a valuable experience. It taught me how to listen and ask questions. While the questionee is clarifying the situation to you, they are often clarifying it for themselves as well. It's a great thing to see. I miss going to group, but i don't miss the $180 a month i paid for it. And i got Kim out of it.

18 comments:

Mama P said...

Do I win an award for being the first to comment? Hey! Anywhooo... I've thought often of group therapy but haven't done it. Seems every time I am ready to do it I feel better. Glad you are, too.

daufiero said...

Group sounds very good. From what I've read elsewhere, many people have a very hard time finding a therapist that works for the one-on-one.

I've been thinking about what I'd like to have in the budget for next year, and unfortunately, I don't think two grand for therapy will make the cut. So keep blogging, Meno!

bobealia said...

I'm listening.

Mother of Invention said...

I would do group therapy if I needed help with something. I like groups and am a good member. I sit back and listen and then jump in with comments once I feel comfortable. Group dynamics are so interesting. Fortunately, thus far, I have been okay with just seeking out friends and family with which to discuss and get guidance for any issues. It sounds as if it was perfect for you. A happy ending to your whole particular story.

Maya's Granny said...

I found group to be very helpful, for the reasons you talk about. And, if it didn't cost money, I could do it forever because you do find a lot of insight there.

Maggie said...

I can't imagine anyone truly feeling that therapy is cool - cause needing it is so not cool, but this does sound pretty neat. You'd have to be a rather tough cookie I bet, to listen and not be too defensive. I admire your courage.

Jennifer said...

Everybody needs therapy of some sort. The only thing uncool about it is people who can't admit it to themselves.

"lo and behold, we both got cured on the same night"

That line right there? Made me smile out loud. :-)

jen said...

First rule of Group Club. Never talk about Group Club. Seriously, YES, I've done it and yes, it can freak your shit out. but i've always loved that sort of dynamic..everyone's shit pushing up against mine, churning, sifting..it's quite an undertaking. Immense fodder. Hence the rules about Group Club...

Lucia said...

The group thing kind of weirds me out. I think it's because there seem to be a lot of people out there who feel like their shit is more important than anyone else's shit. It seems like it could go two ways. The first (good) way is that it would be like talking to friends who are able to give you a different perspective on things. (And, bonus, that your friend Kim came from here.) The second (bad) is a terrible amount of self absorption and having to listen to some people you doing give a f*ck about. Not to be awful, but a lot of times people talk about things and it just blah, blah, blahs to me.

Holly Capote said...

meno, I did something similar to this with one overseer and 5 confederates. It was very, very, very intense. We took turns at the center of the group, where we'd utilize their disparate perspectives. There were a few folks who had their solid stories, their very certain way of considering their lives and no amount of consultation would budge them from their perpetual, cyclical drama.

Then there were a few brave ones who would listen rather than defend.

Holly Capote said...

Lucia wrote: "Not to be awful, but a lot of times people talk about things and it just blah, blah, blahs to me."

I agree. If a person just wants to repeat their tragic story again and again and again, after a while, it is just blah, blah, blah. Some repetition can serve processing, but there comes a time when repeating the story extends the tragedy.

meno said...

mamap, i would pretty much recommend it at any stage in life. Which of us wouldn't benefit from some honest feedback in a safe environment?

de, it can be difficult to find a good therapist for a group too. They have to know how to moderate, and keep everyone safe, while not allowing the members to hide from reality. And i don't plan to quit anytime soon, as long as i am having fun and not stressing about the writing.

bo, (in classic therapy speak) tell me what you heard.

MOI, it does take a little while to feel comfortable in that setting. That's why it's cool to have a core set of people who are committed to staying for a while.

maya's granny, i think i would still go too, except for the $ and the drive. It's a great way to stayed "tuned up". Plus who doesn't like to talk about themselves?

hi maggie, it does take a bit of courage to start in a group, but after a while, if you are lucky, it feels like a group of tough-love friends.

jennifer, glad to make you smile. Because we ARE both perfect now. And self examination, when not carried to wretched excess, is a good idea.

jen, now i will have to hide from the Group Police! It is a great experience, to benefit from the experience of 5 (or so) other people who are not emotionally involved, but still care about you.

lucia, That's what the job of the group leader is, to make sure that the swelled heads don't hog all the attention. But there is the blah, blah, blah aspect. Those are people who are looking for a support group (yes, you are a good person) rather than a therapy group (yes, i want to learn something). Also, you can say fuck here if you want. I do it all the time. :)

holly, it is intense! And those people, who get some value from their repeated drama, are so damn frustrating.

Mignon said...

I was in a club in college that was very much the same thing, for all intents and purposes. And, like you, the people I was drawn to were the good listeners, good questioners. The few that still give me that hackles-raised feeling were the blowhards and head-in-the-sand kids.

I'm surprised it costs so much for the therapy, by the way! There must be another forum, aside from AA and NA and such, that doesn't break the bank...

Bob said...

I don't have anything to say about group (no experience). I do have a comment about the picture. The name of the hookah lounge - The Rabbit Hole???? That isn't vaguely eastern. It doesn't strike me as something that western culture would get into. It just struck me wierd.

maggiemaggiewolfe said...

Bob,

Read "Alice in Wonderland."

It will all become clear.

xoxo,

Holly Capote

urban-urchin said...

I did group therapy in college (no choice, parents made me after my best friend and grandmother died within a year.) At first I thought I'd be weirded out and had all the reservations that Lucia had.

BUT- it was great. And the thing is you actually grow to give a shit about the others. Not to mention are thankful when you realize you're not as bad off as you thought.

amusing said...

Group therapy, meet blogging.
Blogging, meet group therapy.

I always wondered if "Real World" served as therapy for any of those people -- to see yourself interact with others up there on the tv screen -- it divorces you from you somewhat and I wondered if they got any perspective on themselves. GIves a whole new meaning to reality tv....

meno said...

mignon, i would bet there is another forum, but i don't know what it is. The high cost is because most insurance plans don't cover group or couples therapy. Stupid.

bob, i just had to take this picture as i was wandering around. This place is, of course, near a large university. It's a large room, filled with mismatched couches and coffee tables with huge hookahs on them. It was closed when i went by. It is weird.

urban-urchin, i'm glad you had such a positive experience. Knowing that i was forced to, like that brat i was back then, i would have remained stubbornly opposed, too stupid to reap any benefits.

amusing, and having a blog is much cheaper too. :)