Our society has come a long way in terms of open dialogue about mental health and wellness. What used to be swept under the rug, looked down upon and ostracized is now discussed freely and holistically. However, too many Americans still have a foggy notion of available mental and physical wellness options.
When most think of mental health, images come to mind of a doctor hiding behind a notepad and a patient lying on a long black couch. But many new models exist which can be more beneficial and transformative.
While individual therapy has an important place in the health and wellness space, group therapy has many benefits for individuals tackling problems on their own or dealing with the issues of a friend or family member.
The foremost reason support groups work is that group members can feel less isolated and take comfort in the fact that there are others like them. According to the American Group Psychotherapy Association, group therapy helps people learn about themselves and improve their interpersonal relationships. Peer support is fundamental to building a stronger sense of self as one goes through their journey to wellness.
Additionally, members of support groups are able to cope more deeply with the issues they are grappling with. For instance, a support group for spouses of Alzheimer’s patients can dive deeper into the day-to-day struggles of the lifestyle: How are they adapting to essentially losing their lover? How are spouses managing household duties? How are spouses still able to connect to their significant other?
Therapists have a very important place in helping patients along in their journey, but the insights and learnings offered by others in similar situations are invaluable. The group therapy model can offer this.
Finding the right support group is key. There is certainly no one-size-fits-all model.
A good group leader will be sure to match members with those of similar backgrounds, ages and issues. This will ensure a more tailored and meaningful experience for all involved. The experience of a 28-year-old going through chemotherapy can be much different than that of a 68-year-old enduring the process.
Unfortunately, in our country, there are still many areas without readily available mental wellness options, or which don’t prioritize mental wellness at all. There are new models on the horizon to connect those people with the help they need. Currently there are many online options that use social networking, web-based chat and blogging to connect those with similar needs.
On the horizon are technologies such as video- and audio-based solutions which will help people get the support they need when and where is most convenient.
If you’re considering therapy or are in need of support, consider the group model. Surrounding yourself with a community of support and knowledge is key to a successful journey to wellness.
The health industry as a whole must devise better, more tailored solutions to reach people in need. Mental health is a priority, not a luxury, and no one should go without proper support.