For myself, my passion comes from witnessing how meaningful, on many levels, group has the potential to be. We say as group leaders, "interpersonal struggles manifest clearly (sometimes magically!) and work ideally in group." Group members often find their semblance of friends, family and significant others in their randomly assigned group! What better way is there to make progress on understanding and acceptance of oneself and others. In doing so, members make connection with frustration, anger, love and other powerful emotions.
Isolation is an increasing
present interpersonal struggle in today's modern hectic world, and it invariably is impacted by group participation. Some members re-create their sense of isolation and work towards changing, with the group's help, the core beliefs that often accompany isolation. Groups have the potential to feel like community, and to share the sentiment that community is much needed, especially these days. To observe and be a part of joy, love, connection and fondness is incredibly moving. To witness working with people to better understand and accept other group members is gold. I feel incredibly fortunate to call myself a group therapist and to be an integral part of group leader circles.
From my esteemed colleagues:
My passion for group work is fueled by the healing and transformative capacity of the relational field. It is transformative when a client, with enough support, can share a shaming experience. A client, Emily, comes to mind. She was on leave from her job due to depression. The depression and its debilitating symptoms caused her deep shame. After several months of group work, she felt supported enough to disclose her shame around her experience of depression. Group members responded to her by voicing their struggles with depression and some even talked about their experiences with prescribed medication. Emily was overwhelmed by their generosity and cried with relief. The impact of her disclosure and the feedback she received was noticeable. Emily was more open and focused in group, and over time she developed a lifestyle of exercise and healthy eating. She is well on her way to reshaping her life.
Anita Barnes, LCSW works in private practice in the Lake Merritt neighborhood in Oakland, California. She has worked with groups since 1995. Anita is a Certified Gestalt Psychotherapist providing groups and group consultation from a Gestalt perspective.
For me, the most challenging aspect of leading a therapy group is trusting the group process. By no means am I able to do this consistently. When I am able to have that confidence, however, I'm filled with joy and optimism-not only about the group but also about humanity in general. How this wonderful feeling emerges depends a bit on the sort of material that's coming up in group. Regardless of that I think the group members can sense my trust, and can in turn trust the group process and themselves within that process.
Karen Collett, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and group leader in Austin, Texas
I am passionate about groups because they challenge members to be authentic in a new way, in a new situation, guided by a well-trained, empathic leader. Whatever clients' (and leaders!) blind spots have been creating Impasses with others show up rather quickly in real time in group therapy. The members are challenged to lead with courage, self awareness, and opening to feedback. And good leaders are willing to take honest corrective feedback from members. All
around, a well run group by a well-trained leader can be the fast lane to growth and paradigm shifts.
Jim Fishman, LCSW CGP runs a bimonthly consultation group in San Francisco for licensed therapists and teaches about developmental stages of group development.