Getting better together in group therapy - Christian Family Solutions

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Group therapy can be an intimidating thought. Sometimes, we are just better together.

 

For the person who struggles with anxiety, it might take every ounce of courage to walk into a group therapy room. Those battling depression may simply not have the energy to face a group of people on any given day.

Cassie Lauters, program manager for the DBT based adult intensive outpatient program (IOP) at CFS, has helped adults work through these feelings throughout her five years in the program in Appleton. “It’s not always easy to join a group, but I have seen the progress our clients make once they find the strength in coming together.” 

Group work is a supplement to regular outpatient therapy. It is a higher level of care that is added when weekly visits to a counselor just aren’t enough. Some clients may need more practice with the behavioral skills their counselor discusses during individual sessions. Groups are a great place to discover situations to apply those skills or share with others how to apply them in daily life. That practice takes place under the supervision of a therapist. 

A DBT based intensive outpatient program (IOP) offers group therapy on a daily basis for several weeks. The frequency of the group work and the accountability the group members provide for each other contribute to faster progress. An IOP group is like a “higher dose” of therapy, with extra monitoring and accountability.

The numerical outcomes of group therapy back up what we observe. Group members typically see vastly improved scores on measures of their symptoms, and they are able to maintain those improved levels. Upon discharge from the group, nearly all clients show improvement in their ability to function in their daily lives.

Melissa Rosenbaum facilitates the CFS adult DBT based IOP in Germantown, Wis. “Although some individuals may be hesitant about sharing with other people in a group, once they get over this hurdle, they often find comfort with other group members who are going through similar challenges.”

A therapist can encourage a client to try a new strategy, but when a fellow member of the group shares his or her experience applying a strategy in real life, there is a sense of camaraderie. There is a sense of satisfaction from members helping and supporting each other.

Lauters stresses the importance of incorporating the faith component into group therapy (although clients do not need to be Christian to receive treatment at CFS). 

“As hurting individuals come together, they are open to share their faith and it can be part of the healing process that others need to experience,” she says. “We talk to our clients before treatment, so they understand our approach to faith integration and why it is important. Many times, when I see clients struggling with mental health, they are struggling with their faith as well.” 

Rosenbaum attests to the strength of community, “By nature people are motivated by other people. There is validation and more accountability and therefore more effective treatment. Group therapy allows people to see that they are not alone.” 

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