“You are good enough as you are. How many times have I heard this said? How many times have I read it in one guise or another? Deep down, I know the truth of this. Intellectually, it makes sense to me. But this was the first time that I had felt that it was true.” (anon. participant in personal development group)
Marc Williams, Graduate Practitioner at BTC writes about his approach and the benefits of a personal development group.
How does the group work?
A typical therapy group consists of six to fifteen members, and a facilitator. This size allows for greater intimacy.
In my experience, groups can be powerful places in which to explore our relationships with others. It can feel risky to share in groups, and can be painful at times. The potential rewards though, can be high.
Being part of a group offers you the opportunity to try out different ways of being. By gradually developing the confidence to express what you are feeling you can build a picture of your affect on others and on how they affect you in return. Group members have less history with you than family members and long term friends do, this means that they have a different investment in your behaviour which allows for greater flexibility in the way that you choose to be in the group. New possibilities can emerge by experimenting with how you are with others in a group; these experiences can be taken into your daily life.
What happens in a group?
We are not often alone in our position within the group, although at times, it can feel that way. Often there are others who are experiencing similar feelings even when the majority are experiencing something altogether different. The facilitator’s role is to invite expressions from all the different view-points, enabling everyone to find their voice.
There are a whole range of different expressions emanating from a group. There are our own internal feelings which we bring with us. We can choose whether to voice these or not, but either way they will have an effect on our presence within the group and have some influence on it.
Each group will develop its own unique culture, this group character will come from the individual’s in the group influencing the whole, and individuals will in turn be influenced by the group. This exchange will produce a dynamic ever developing culture within the group. If an existing member leaves or a new one joins the character of the group will start to change.
Being part of a group allows for creativity simply because there are more individuals to relate to and experiment with. For example, if a member had a specific ongoing situation in his or her family, other individuals could act out the different roles of that individual’s family. This can have a dramatic effect, allowing for a live dynamic to emerge and play out, raising the member’s awareness of their own reactions to circumstances. This is known as a family sculpture. Sculptures can be used for other scenarios in groups, for instance, sculpting what is perceived to be happening in the group or enabling someone’s dream to come to life and seeing how it relates to the group.
If a group feels stuck in a situation, for instance, if two members reach an impasse in a particular situation, other members can be invited to take on their roles. The original members can then step back and look from a different viewpoint. This can allow for new possibilities.
The potential that can be harnessed from a collection of individuals with a collective interest in raising their awareness can allow for powerful and creative ways in solving, resolving and staying with all kinds of situations that we encounter in our everyday lives.
Groups can be a useful and a low-cost form of self development. It surprises me that they are not more widely available. The Brighton Therapy Centre currently offers a variety of groups which can be viewed here. Marc will be starting a low cost personal development group that will run at the centre in early 2014 on Saturday mornings. The group will run for ten weeks at a time. You can read more about it here. For more information, please contact Marc by emailing the BTC office.
“I’ve come a long way from the shy seventeen year old who sat on the fringes of groups looking in, hoping to be seen, but being frightened to speak. Now I move in and out of groups with relative ease, taking centre stage or sitting back as I feel. I can now choose my responses rather than having them governed by my fears.” (anon. personal development group participant)