Group work….two words I know I hated hearing in high school. The awkwardness of not knowing who you would be working with, the thought of someone not carrying their weight, presenting to and in front of strangers, and the overall anxiety of having to agree or disagree with others. As an adult, and more specifically as a therapist, I have a newfound liking for the term “group work” as I have led and co-led several groups in my career, including most recently a very successful teen girls’ group entitled “Girl Talk” (all you 80’s and 90’s babies know where the name came from)! My co-worker, Mari Hoaglund, LPC, and I ran a five-week therapeutic group for teenage girls ages 14-18 to assist them in the tiresome world we all know as HIGH SCHOOL! Group topics included mindfulness, distress tolerance, coping skills, walking the middle path, and interpersonal effectiveness. While these are all skills taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) programs, our group was not a DBT specific group.
The girls were encouraged to share current or past stressors, triggers, past experiences and anything else they felt comfortable sharing. After processing, the group was taught a skill of the day and asked to complete homework assignments based on that specific skill. Each girl flourished in different ways including forming empathy for others, blossoming socially, and being willing to be vulnerable with peers. In a group, individuals are more likely to feel confident in sharing their struggles as they feel less alone and more relatable. Groups are successful when taught with a non-judgmental and empathetic approach; Mari and I successfully achieved this with Girl Talk, so much so, the girls requested it “never ends!” That being said, Mari and I look forward to offering more groups at Pathways Consulting for a variety of clients!