The Benefits of Group Therapy
It's easy to have a limited idea of what therapy looks like, but today's episode is a welcome reminder that there are many forms of therapy to choose from. Group therapy, for instance, offers a variety of benefits traditional one-on-one therapy can't.
Joining Dr. Fedrick for this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected is Brittany Johnson, LPC, from the Western Tidewater Community Services Board. Brittany is the Program Director for the State Opioid Response program where she oversees group sessions. She is here to talk to Dr. Fedrick about the benefits of her work in the program as well as the unique benefits of group therapy.
Key Takeaways from Liz’s chat with Brittany:
• Hear about the important work happening within the SOR program
• Learn what group therapy is and how it looks during the pandemic
• Hear how group therapy differs from one-on-one sessions
• Find out how open groups and closed groups differ
• Learn how to decide whether group therapy is right for you or not
All of this and more, on this episode of Calm, Cool and Connected.
Learn more about Western Tidewater Community Services: wtcsb.org
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DISCLAIMER: THE CONSULTATIONS OR INTERACTIONS OFFERED ARE NOT MENTAL HEALTH THERAPY. THE CONSULTATION IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND NOT STRUCTURED IN A WAY TO PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELING/PSYCHOTHERAPY/THERAPY/ DIAGNOSING OF ANY KIND. YOU UNDERSTAND THAT CALM COOL AND CONNECTED IS NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION AS YOUR TREATING MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR, PHYSICIAN, ATTORNEY, LEGAL COUNSEL, EMPLOYER, MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. We offer no guarantees or promise of results from event nor assume liability for any information provided.
Dr. Fedrick: Hello and welcome to calm. Cool and connected. I'm your host, Dr.
Elizabeth. Group therapy is incredibly beneficial for a number of reasons. Many clients, mine included have expressed some hesitation about group therapy though, on occasions, such as not wanting to attend, because maybe they're worried about talking about their experiences in front of multiple people or even multiple strangers.
There's also the concern of thinking that individual therapy, because it's one-on-one might be more effective. However, that's not always the case. There's very specific benefits that can be derived from group therapy. Such as having your experiences normalized by multiple other people, increasing social skills, and even self-awareness joining us today is Brittany Johnson, a licensed professional counselor and a program manager for Western Tidewater community services.
Brittany's here to talk with us about group therapy and to tell us a bit about the benefits of this approach. Hi, Brittany.
Brittany Johnson: Welcome. Hi, [00:01:00] thanks for having me. Thank you
Dr. Fedrick: so much for joining us. So before we jump in, let's talk a little bit about yourself and the work that you do in the mental health.
Brittany Johnson: Sure I am currently am the program manager of the soar program at Western Tidewater soar being an acronym for the state opioid response program.
And so in my role, I serve as an outpatient clinician and also overseeing additional outpatient clinicians, case managers and peer support specialists.
Dr. Fedrick: Okay. And so how did you get into the work that you're doing? And do you, do you run groups as well? Is that all part of your, the work that you do?
Brittany Johnson: Sure.
How I got into the work that I'm doing more. So coming in overseeing staff, I'm pretty new to the OPR response initiative of course, but kind of just taking past experiences and working with individuals who have had substance use. And now integrating that [00:02:00] with the team that I'm currently working on.
I am not personally facilitating any of the groups currently, but that is something that I have done in the past. So right now we're facilitating our groups with licensed eligible clinicians and also with our peer support specialists. Okay. That's
Dr. Fedrick: great. So what exactly does group therapy look like?
Like I was saying in the intro, some of my clients, you know, might push back on that and they have hesitation and concern. So for people listening who maybe have never attended group. What does it
Brittany Johnson: look like? Sure. And group therapy definitely looks different with COVID. The pandemic and everything like that.
Right now, we are running our groups virtually being able to have a video platform where individuals can join in. We have two very distinct groups that we're running currently a road to recovery group, and then we have a motivational group. And so all of our groups are voluntary and. Individuals [00:03:00] who want to be active in those groups.
They meet once weekly and they're really being able to socialize and connect with other individuals who are either going through substance use and continuing to kind of fight through what that looks like, or maybe they've stopped their use, but they're still trying to work through being motivated to continue on that road to recovery.
Dr. Fedrick: Sure. And what does a group size typically look like? Is that different for you now that you're doing it virtually? Or do you still try to maintain the same
Brittany Johnson: size? We're trying to maintain the same size. So we're trying to keep groups to about 12 individuals at a time and trying to ensure that we're seeing consistency because it is voluntary.
We do want to make sure that. As we're seeing individuals who aren't compliant, that we're maybe allowing other people to enter into the group. All of the groups are open groups, so we're not starting with a select number of individuals and going a certain amount of weeks before, you know, we let additional individuals in,
Dr. Fedrick: okay.
That's actually even a [00:04:00] great term to kind of discuss a little. As well, what is the difference between a closed and an open
Brittany Johnson: group? Sure. So our open group as I was saying, we're allowing individuals to come into the group as we have openings and availability. I really enjoy, I think both of them definitely have their benefits for what we're working with with substance use.
I think it's a great benefit for the groups to be open because we get individuals who have perhaps been on the journey of some, you know, Not utilizing substances for a while. And then we have individuals coming in who are just now deciding that, you know, they're ready for that process of letting go of whatever substance it is they're using.
So it's really nice to kind of see the back and forth and allow for those individuals who perhaps have been on their journey a little bit longer to be able to offer a little bit of support and understanding and even share it perhaps with our newcomers where they were. When they first started and [00:05:00] how they've kind of gotten to where they are now,
Dr. Fedrick: right?
Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. And that, I mean, that's a great point. That's where the normalizing and the support and when people can see each other on different parts of the journey, I can give some insights I'm looking like for other people. What are some of the benefits of group the
Brittany Johnson: therapy? I think the benefits especially in I'll keep it specifically for substance use.
I think one of the benefits is a sense of control bringing back a sense of control, because like I said, our groups are voluntary and I think when we think of substance use and acknowledging that. Such a chronic disease that kind of takes over an individual. A lot of times we get individuals who feel as though they kind of haven't, they have no more control, you know, the substance has kind of taken over.
And I think the benefit that group has, is being able to actively decide, okay, I want to participate. No one's making you, you know, but you're actively saying, I want to attend this group weekly and receive you know, what [00:06:00] the facilitators are providing as far as guidance and coping strategies, but also.
Hearing what other members are saying and being able to share your, you know, struggles or sharing your progress.
Dr. Fedrick: Yeah. Well, and that's, yeah, that's a great point as well, because it really is both the struggles and the progress that can be so beneficial for the other members to hear of normalizing again, you know, Somebody else is going through the same thing, but then also like you're saying creates that motivation of, okay.
Recovery is possible. There is hope. And that I think that's a profound benefit. Of group therapy, for sure. Do you guys utilize a certain modality in your, in your group therapy or how to, what is the approach you use
Brittany Johnson: right now? We're utilizing a curriculum entitled seeking safety. So we utilize that curriculum for both of our groups.
It does kind of pull from some CBT and really rearranging thought, thought [00:07:00] processing and things of that nature in relation to substance use. So we. Draw on personal things that our clinicians and our peer supports maybe are hearing in the news new integrative approaches. We try to be open to that as well, so that we're kinda being able to grow our own skills as facilitators.
So we're seeing, we're pulling from seeking safety, but also very open to additional resources that we feel may work best for just the group.
Dr. Fedrick: Okay. So really an eclectic approach to really meeting the client where they're at and trying to pull in different approaches. Which we know can be really the most effective in the long run than trying to just stick to the one.
And I know DVT can also like the skills from DVT can be really effective. Do you guys pull that
Brittany Johnson: in at all? We do at times it's something kind of, we integrate into just everything we're doing, not specifically honing in on that one modality, but it definitely has been something we've utilized in the past [00:08:00] sharing land to utilize in the future,
Dr. Fedrick: Sure. And when you were like mentioning like the coping skills and everything that certainly all ties in, so w with your clients, do you, it sounds like you suggest the group work in addition to the individual therapy, or
Brittany Johnson: we decide that we definitely would like to see it occurring, you know, together.
We do have some individuals we recognize that may not be quite ready for that. Going through that process of individual therapy or going through the process of group. But we try to, as we're working with the individual, leaning them to integrate into all of the different things we services that we do have.
So if someone's not in group, but they're an outpatient, we're constantly having that conversation of how beneficial group would be and vice versa.
Dr. Fedrick: Do you see, like, what are the risk factors that you might see of somebody not being ready for
Brittany Johnson: group therapy? Sometimes I believe. Individuals are still very much feeling like it's a problem that, that they're embarrassed by [00:09:00] or only they're facing.
Not yet feeling comfortable sharing their information with other people. And so getting that comfortability with the therapist, one-on-one, I think sometimes kind of opens the door for them to feel a little bit more comfortable to then go into the group, especially now with group being virtually.
It's a lot of anxiety behind that too. I'm not seeing a person. Face-to-face in person, so that sometimes can be a struggle for individuals going into a group, knowing that it's done
Dr. Fedrick: virtually. Absolutely. And there can be a bit of a barrier to building rapport and connection with the virtual distance of that.
Tell us a little bit about Western Tidewater community services board. What, what services do you guys offer? What do you guys
Brittany Johnson: do? Sure. So we offer a plethora of services from behavioral health substance use of focusing with children in the school system. Being able to provide some mental health counseling there, some case [00:10:00] management we are select to our catchment area, which includes.
Suffolk Smithville, Alawite county, Franklin Southampton county. But really just being able to go into those areas and provide those services to ensure overall mental health and behavioral, you know,
Dr. Fedrick: Right. And your website is very clear about your focus on community. Like that's a really big deal, but then also that instilling hope.
So it sounds like you really try to have this around service approach. Yes. Everyone is feeling like they're getting the support that they
Brittany Johnson: need. Yes, definitely trying to make sure we're connecting individuals, whether they're in our program with substance use and their children are needing assistance.
Just trying to ensure that we're connecting people in all facets of what it is they have going on in their lives. Oh
Dr. Fedrick: great. Where can our viewers find out more about you? Where can they find you?
Brittany Johnson: Um, They can definitely reach out to us at our website. So WT, csb.org. We also have a same day access line and you can [00:11:00] call in there and get immediate assistance for whatever your need may be.
They're kind of our go-to for being able to assess where an individual needs assistance with and getting them to that program. Great.
Dr. Fedrick: All right. Well, thank you so much for being here, Brittany. I appreciate it.
Brittany Johnson: Thanks. It was great. Being able to meet.
Dr. Fedrick: And thank you all for tuning into this episode of Collin cooling, connected.
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