The yearning to connect is something that’s on my mind this morning for at least two reasons: (1) new types of groups I’ve been developing where I work and (2) this blog.
The new groups I’ve been offering are different in several ways from “conventional” ones. Most therapy groups have the same people meeting each week and are either (1) short-term, with a specified amount of meetings (6 weeks, 10 weeks, etc.) or (2) on-going, with no end point specified. People commit to attend every week, if possible. People might leave the group and new people might join, but those comings and goings are rare and pretty controlled.
And there are lots of great reasons why therapy groups work so well this way, which I won’t go into in this post (but could, in future posts). Because conventional therapy groups do such wonderful things and promote healing so effectively, however, conventional wisdom might suggest, or believe, that a group that does things very differently — like the ones I’ve been facilitating lately — might not work.
Here’s how these groups are different. People, once they are oriented to the structure and guidelines of the group, can attend when and how often they choose. If you were attending these groups, you would never know for sure who was going to be there when you showed up — you might know some people but other ones would probably be new . And, you’d have control over when and how often you attend. You could come once a week, once a month, whenever you wanted. You could book a space way ahead, decide to come spontaneously (if space was available), and cancel if you couldn’t make it.
So why do these groups work ? That’s what I’m writing about in today’s blog.
I think it’s because people are hungry to connect in authentic ways to other people. So, if people feel safe enough, they will connect in some way — even if it’s for a single session, with people they don’t know.
I constantly witness how healing it is for people — strangers! — to come together with some hope of presenting all of themselves (their strengths, vulnerabilities, histories, pain, triumphs) and to connect with each other. People have remarkable abilities to find common ground with each other, and to work together at moving forward.
It’s amazing. And even in one session, where people might not know the other people, where they are — of course! — anxious about revealing themselves to others, helpful and wonderful things can happen.
As I said in my intro to this post, blogging was another reason that the yearning to connect was on my mind.
The way people use blogs, whether they are posting or commenting, sometimes reminds me of what I see in group therapy. As I look at other people’s blogs, I see people often choosing to bring different authentic parts of themselves here, to communicate with a hope to be understood, to connect, to relate, to learn, and to grow.
And, dear reader, I didn’t realize all those similarities until I was writing this blog today — listening again to my own yearning to connect.