The Value of Group Therapy
Group therapy, which itself has many variations, is an especially excellent source of learning and nurturing for troubled teens. Troubled teen girls have often found themselves ostracized, ignored and isolated. The benefits of a group environment create an important step in ending the stigma and solitude, and can prove an invaluable resource in helping adolescent girls reconnect both with a peer group, and with themselves.
Realizing she’s not alone
Teens, even well-adjusted ones, often struggle with feelings of inadequacy, of being different. So much more so then for teens with behavioral or substance-abuse issues. The sense of isolation can be overwhelming, and often these young adults have missed out on valuable developmental time, when one learns bonding skills with friends and peers.
In The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, Irwin Yalom writes that many people enter group therapy with the idea that they are alone in their problems, that there is something inherently deficient in them. Hearing other girls share about similar challenges and struggles remedies that misconception. The stigma of sharing secrets and fears can all dissolve. So often behavioral or addiction issues are worsened by bad self-image and low self-esteem. Knowing that she is not alone can bring the troubled teen into a new conception of self and start her on the road to real healing.
Finding her voice
So often teenage females struggle to find their own voice in terms of healthy self expression. A group setting, while initially daunting, provides them with a mode to express themselves in a setting free of judgement or browbeating. The teenager often is regularly divorced from her own feelings, confused as to what she’s feeling and the intensity of it. By articulating to a group the thoughts and feelings inside her, it can bring a closer sense of self, allow her to recognize emotions that before were overwhelming her.
It’s about giving as much as receiving
As she draws strength from the group, the teen girl is also able to give it. It can be immensely rewarding for her to finally feel she has something to offer others, whether that be words of experience, insight or just as a good listener. Numerous studies have shown how feeling needed and of benefit to others alleviates emotional illness, trauma, addictive behavior, etc. For many of these girls, a group-therapy session might be their first experience with realizing that they have something worthwhile to give to others.
Realizing, maybe for the first time, that it is OK to open up, be themselves, share emotions, without judgement or censure, can be an epiphany for a lot of troubled teen girls. From there it is easier to commence on a road to self-acceptance —a much lighter journey without toting along so much baggage. And for girls in our society, even ones who don’t struggle with some of these issues, it often isn’t easy to find their true voice. The group therapy setting can give them the courage to do that very thing.