One thing I totally vouch for is the positive effect and value from support groups. Not necessarily therapeutic groups, I’m more referring to organic mutual support groups run by and for their members. I believe that when done properly (and many statistics back this up) group therapy is a lot more effective than one on one psychotherapy or counselling – when it’s done properly. If you think about it logically for a few moments, it totally makes sense. Just always keep in mind I am not rubbishing one on one therapy at all, sometimes it’s more appropriate than group therapy.
In one-on one-therapy you are with someone who you have paid to have listen to you, this relationship. This is an aberrant relationship. Don’t get me wrong it has the power to heal dramatically and cause major revelations and bring about change by allowing the unconscious to become conscious. But at the end of the day it is a paid transactions govern the relationship. It’s a service. Whilst strong rapport and trust is built there are certain boundaries which need to be maintained in order for the integrity of professional conduct to be maintained.
Sick people often isolate. How I Beat Depression emphasises the fact that depressed people are highly proned to isolating activities, and many times the worse the depression the more intense the isolation.
Groups reflects microcosm’s society, it is likely that a depressed person will have problematic relationships with authority and structure at one time. Often it’s multiple failed dealings with authority and strcutures of authority over a long period of time: ie. feelings of isolation and abandonment in family which is then tranlated into school settings which then leads to similar experiences in the workplace and so on. Eventually leading the person to become disenchanted and disillusioned by structure and the formation of groups. Groups can often heighten and magnify the aloneness and crippling ‘difference’ of being depressed.
This anxiety, dread and fear can become resurrected when encountering groups again, even if the group is comprised of people who are there for the same purpose, to recover from mental health, and there, my friend, is the solution: the group will resurrect the problematic relationship with groups and through gently love, affection and care and nurture help the person again trust in groups of people and ultimately trust in themselves.
Totally addicted to psychoanalysis…
Often I come across depressed people who’ve been in one on one psychotherapy or counselling FOR YEARS AND YEARS. This staggers me beyond belief to say the very least. Often I find these people becoming addicted to psychological, psychiatric words and dialogue, becoming obsessed with perennial navel gazing and introspection and trying to reformulate their worldview into Freudian paradigms and analysis and content to perpetuate a self-centered approach to the world wherein their feelings, thoughts and actions always require center-stage. A relationship of dependence with a therapist is not freedom and in my opinion the opposite to sound medical practice which is to phase itself out. The ethics of all medical practice always should be to help the person move on and not be reliant and dependent on the medical system. Now where the power of groups come is that supportive growth groups encourage the individual to gradually learn to ‘die to the self’ which released a certain amount of freedom, liberty and freedom. There of course needs to be the right ingredients of groups.
What do you mean die to the self?
Because depression and isolation go hand in hand it is likely the depressed person would be initially very wary of the group setting and of groups in general. In some cases it’s over passivity, not speaking up, fearful of raising your voice or becoming a burden for anyone. In other cases it’s the opposite, hogging the spotlight being a dominant personality and voice which craves and needs attention at the cost of silencing others. Whichever the unhelpful slant, group work will expose the dispositions very clearly and provide a great insight into problematic relationships with groups and authority.
To get the full benefit of the group and to be an active and essential member healthy groups will bring about a natural corrective process to curb both types of personalities in order to preserve democratic freedom and functional capacity..in effect they facilitate the dying of the self…the dying of the dominant personality who needs to learn how to listen and allow others to share and have a voice and the dying of the overly passive person who needs to learn how to contribute and have a voice. In these two deaths new, new and regenerative life is released both into the group and into the person who begins to learn how to function in a cooperative and heterogeneous setting.
Melting pots of truth…the erosion of artificial barriers
In mutual support groups like NA, GA, Al-anon, GROW, recovery, there is a rich heterogeneous mix of people. Millionaires and homeless people are in the room on equal footing because they are there for the same reason. The barriers of wealth, status, power and division and beautifully crumbled in these settings and a glimpse of what a true community movement is witnessed and glimpsed in these settings. This inspires hope and touches people’s heart and sense of purpose of being involved in something that is so clearly above and beyond them.
It’s easy to stand back and criticize these groups, being influenced by films like fight-club and how these groups are portrayed in media gives such a negative perception of these groups, as if they were forums for the living-dead to gather and obtain cheap and easy consolation, a bit of tea and sympathy.
Mentoring others…a further death bringing further life
Any person who has truly sought the need for mutual and support and entered the group with a legitimate need and want to connect with others and enter into rich and fruitful relationships will be not only duly rewarded they will find a greater sense of meaning and purpose as they learn not only how to help themselves but how to help someone else, how to truly mentor and disciple that person with love and care and also with firmness and boundaries where it is needed.
When you become well enough to help others a real and true sense of empowerment ensues. Mentoring and building other people up in truth and showing them the way forward can be monumentally healing. It really can take the attentino of yourself too. How I Beat Depression maintains that one of the critical ways for depression to continue is by focussing excessively on self and on your depression. By taking an interest in another’s welfare and imparting knowledge, experience and expertise into their life and amazingly satisfying feeling will ensue. A lot of meaning and purpose is fed back. But wisdom needs to be kept in mind. Some people try and help others prematurely and some people can actually disguise self-centred or and misguided motives under seemingly ‘benevelent’ and helping behaviour.
So the main point is to go to mutual support groups with an open mind. One of the most encouraging things I disocered in them is the profound healing of other members, it’s actually infectious, you witness and hear stories of real, concrete change and start to think, “well if he/she can do it, then I can do it”. In essence that’s the purpose and hope for the How I Beat Community.
Best of luck with your recovery.