Group is more than just a social hour!
So much more!
In fact, support has been studied to be a significant ingredient in overall well-being in humans. A feeling of support contributes to decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as better physical health.
In an October 2015 study, researchers found that having limited face-to-face social contact nearly doubles someone's risk of having depression. We are not surprised by this info.
So, basically, social media contact is simply not enough!
Our kids have been conditioned to post more than interact in person; to text it rather than say it out loud. They are being gypped! In-person peer support is an amazingly potent and powerful resource for our kids!
Here are three reasons why group IS EFFECTIVE and how it HELPS:
- Group helps your teen understand he or she is not alone. Being in a group of peers with similar struggles helps teens recognize that they are not different or weird. It normalizes their experiences and creates a space for them to feel heard and understood. Feeling safe enough to share difficult emotions and be open to feedback are essential components of a positive therapeutic experience.
- Group creates a space for self-acceptance and non-judgment. Our children are being asked to manage many potentially challenging areas of life such as school, work and relationships. Pressure to achieve a certain standards of grades, apply and get in to college, maintain stability in friendships and with romantic partners, navigate the difficult terrain of peer pressure and the lure of drugs, alcohol and self-harming behaviors is a mountain for many teens to climb and often without the proper skills or gear. Group provides a space for our kids to show up and being authentic and real, and to expect acceptance and non-judgment as a response.
- Group holds your teens accountable. Group members support each other in learning to create and work toward healthy goals. With the group leader’s expert coaching and guidance, group members hold each other accountable for actions and behaviors while providing support, encourage and compassion. There is no better accountability system that a teen having to face up to peers. The group and group leader become a cheering squad as well as a consistent and reliable support system when urges and behaviors become challenging or unhealthy.
Helping your teen create a healthy support system is easier (and more important) than you think. There are many ways to do this such as have your teen:
- volunteer with peers at a local hospital
- join a sports team or art club
- join a local gym
- join a youth group at your religious institution
- participate in group therapy
It is important that your teen is open to ANY opportunity so that he or she can invest fully and get the most benefit. An open heart and willing attitude increases the chance of any experience being effective.
Initial concerns about group requiring effort to push through social anxiety, fears of being judged or uncomfortable, or of feeling embarrassed and unsure are all VALID and REAL. Like any new experience, being comfortable in a group requires exposure and practice and is well worth it!