How do I know if I should do a group experience?
What are the criteria for readiness?
As I write this, another cohort of brave people is halfway into a 12 week group experience, supporting their individual healing paths by participating in Becoming Safely Embodied. There is no replacement for solid, trauma-informed individual treatment for people looking to heal from the wounds of the past. However, a group experience can provide a meaningful and unique complement to the work of individual treatment.
I have yet to meet a person interested in the group experience who from the very start emphatically declares, “I can’t wait to do this!” More often, people are nervous and unsure, wondering if the great risk will reap worthwhile reward. And then we sit together those first couple of weeks - and sense into the shared connection, empathy, vulnerability and compassion. The possibilities of what may lie ahead often begin to feel more real and worthwhile, and hope is in the room.
Becoming Safely Embodied (BSE) is a psychoeducational group experience that we offer at CCIH several times throughout the year. It is a 12-week closed group designed for people with a history of trauma and offers members the chance to explore the ways in which trauma affects the body and brain, and to teach useful practices and skills that help them live more peaceful lives in the present.
Perhaps most importantly though, year after year, I am honored to bear witness to courageous individuals coming out of isolation and into connection with others also humbly working toward greater stability and joy in the present. Sharing in others struggles and successes can support and encourage one’s own sense of agency and capacity to impact daily life.
Experiencing the ease of compassion that one can often send toward others in the room can begin to soften the shell that has kept self-compassion at bay. This process is a profound experience in the group setting.
We are often asked, “How do I know if I should do a group experience? What are the criteria for readiness?”
There are several practical considerations to assess for group readiness. Not living in the midst of current trauma is one. Having an existing support system is a resource for group participation. Though a skills-based group; BSE does work with internal experience. Ideally, each member has a good working relationship with an individual therapist, who provides a safe place each week to process anything that is getting touched.
On a more experiential level, whether an individual treatment is going well, or not as one had hoped, sensing into a longing for something more - or for greater connection in the world - can also indicate group readiness.
For further safety into group participation, we meet with anyone who is interested in BSE for a one-on-one consultation, which provides another opportunity to further assess for readiness and to plan with the facilitator for meaningful participation.
"Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion." - Buddha