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To Group or not to Group… For Parents!
In a previous blog, I discussed the merits of group therapy for children. On a similar note, parents have recently been asking whether attending one of our parent workshops or seeking individual support is the best approach. There are many factors to consider when selecting the appropriate therapy model. Here, I outline some of the benefits of group-based therapy for parents.
Shared Ideas: Being surrounded by other parents who are experiencing similar challenges related to their children or who are seeking support on the same topics can generate informative discussions about different approaches for navigating difficult situations. Learning about strategies that are “tried and true” for other parents can help to broaden a parent’s repertoire of valuable tools for helping their child. Sharing ideas and strategies with other like-minded parents can be helpful and therapeutic for both the sharer and those around them.
The “I’m-not-Alone” Effect: Group support for parents can help to validate and normalize the issues that they are having with their children and reassures parents that they are “not alone”. Witnessing other parents experiencing similar challenges can help to reduce worry and fear and can help parents take action. This is an especially important piece to tackle for families who are at the beginning stages of the therapy process.
Parent Support and Connections: Aside from receiving support regarding the topics being addressed in the parent group or workshop, the sheer act of being with other parents in a safe, respectful, and collaborative environment can be therapeutic in and of itself. Having the opportunity to share stories and socialize about personal events can add value to the group experience and can give parents something to look forward to. In the busy lives of parents, this social component that is inherent in group therapy can be very powerful.
The decision to pursue group therapy versus individual therapy is a personal one and there are many benefits to both. I am an advocate of group therapy for parents if the group is set up in an environment that fosters feelings of safety, collaboration, and the encouragement to share ideas and support each other. I often let parents know that individual and group therapy do not have to be mutually exclusive; some families might benefit from one approach as a starting point and pursue a different approach later in their therapy journey, and other families might try both approaches simultaneously. Feeling safe and supported during the therapy journey is always critical, so whichever approach you select, ensure that you regularly reflect on the process to confirm that it is meeting your needs!