Nope. No way. Why? Because we don’t believe in the premise.
There are a lot of modalities of therapy and counseling we’re into, and we love group therapy. But the assumption of a support group is that the thing you’re struggling with (anxiety, depression, PTSD) is something you’ll just have to live with, so it’s good to get support to help along the way.
Maybe that seems unfair. But hear me out: People call me all the time looking for various sorts of help. I ask questions about what they’re struggling with, what kinds of help they’ve tried in the past and with what level of success. I’m interested in getting to know what’s happening with them, but also in understanding how they’ve come to understand those issues. So very often (too often) what becomes clear is a deep resignation to the problem just being there, fixed, as part of life. What they’re looking for isn’t so much help to get over their anxiety or depression, but help to cope with it.
And that’s exactly what I’m not interested in doing.
Your depression doesn’t need any extra help
Depression (and anxiety, and trauma, etc.) are plenty powerful, thank you. Of course no one involved in running a support group (and they’re also often self-run) wants to make the pain you’re experiencing worse, but that’s often exactly what’s happening. Why? Because they’re giving that pain support.
That’s what “support group” means. You’re dealing with a painful thing and this group will help you cope better with that painful thing.
Okay, smart guy, so what do you guys do?
Emotional pain has this funny way of making us cozy up and get comfortable with it. That pain is what we’ve known for so long. We’ve learned to make friends with it. It’s when it gets less comfortable to deal with, in fact, that we’re liable to reach out for help.
The last thing I want to do is help you get (more) comfortable!
Sorry about that. Making dramatic, powerful changes in your life necessarily means getting uncomfortable. Great therapy for anxiety and great therapy for depression (trauma, pain) demand that the pain, the bad habits, and the isolation need to be pried loose from our bodies and from our lives.
Supportive groups, not support groups
Therapy groups are fundamentally supportive. That’s a given. They’re a place to talk about the rough times and share your struggles with sympathetic crowd. They also need to be genuinely challenging places. A premise of all good therapy needs to be that it’s unacceptable for you to continue to live in pain, feeling small and cut off from living your life fully. The group needs to challenge you make serious changes, not help you get more comfortable with where you’re at.
Groups help us examine the ways we’re living our lives that keep us in pain. They push us to take the risks of getting closer to people, developing new habits, learning new emotional performances to the end of making our lives bigger and better.
It’s about wanting more
You can do better than coping. Depression and anxiety are powerful forces, but you simply don’t have to live with them. Consider what it means to create places in your life where you can get help not just to cope, but to obliterate depression and anxiety! Look beyond support.