Goodbyes in Group Therapy – Challenge and Reward


 My  E-response to a client in  Group Therapy  who wanted to skip the critical,
individual goodbyes we discuss and agree to do during the three individual preparation for Group sessions.
 I agree C, & I’m glad you feel it was useful too.  I’m not surprised you might think the group goodbyes you’ve done are enough, but you haven’t yet done the most important part – individual goodbyes to each person in the group.  This exercise is also the most anxiety provoking for folks who haven’t much experience with deep emotional intimacy of the sort that we develop and explore in the group meetings, very different, deeper & more rich than in everyday friendships.
Individual goodbyes allow both people to experience & practice feeling & putting into words the strong feelings that being together the ways we are in Group elicits — a scary but invaluable experiential learning, not available to people in any other way.  If a someone leaves without these personal goodbyes, they deprive everyone in the group of this one-time high-power therapy experience of growth, and leave everyone  hanging without closure on the important and powerful relationships that develop in even a few short months of weekly group therapy.
I do hope you’ll gather your courage and keep your promise to the other members and to me, back when you agreed to do individual goodbyes, according to the Group Guidelines we discussed in preparation for Group.  Having a look at your copy of those guidelines will help you help yourself and us to go through the disconnection from folks we’ve grown close to, which is usually avoided in our culture.  I know it means daring to feel & put into words those strong feelings with other people, and that is one of the most healing growth experiences that only a good group therapy experience provides.
I look forward to your coming next week to keep your agreement, and having and sharing the benefits of that experience with your colleagues in your  Group.
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