How Effective Group Therapy Leaders Help with Depression & Anxiety
The effective group therapist will help switch the focus from the self-absorption of being anxious or depressed to re-entry into the world of the living.
In these groups we practice using our sense of humor to activate ourselves—but not in a way that group members will feel put down or made fun of. The group therapist will help the group discuss how often we become anxious or depressed to avoid taking an important action or making a decision. Within the context of trust and safety, the group will encourage you to take the risk of being un-depressed and feeling calm—which may be a new and unfamiliar experience for you.
Paradoxically, the chief rule and norm of the group is never to make an attempt to cheer anyone up. Such efforts invariably prove negative because they simply repeat what people heard from friends and families in their well intentioned attempts to change them. Using the same logic, there is a group norm to never say “stop being so anxious!” People could express the level of anxiety and depression they were experiencing as members listened without judgment. Members often report much relief because of this attitude and group norm.
Again, using paradoxical intent—permitting the very emotion you want to dispel—humor can be strategically used to expand the individual’s perception of the “problem” to include other people. A fine example is the case where a group member will spontaneously say, “I don’t see anyone here trying to act happy or calm and collected,” by way of remarking how group members were breaking the social pretense of acting happy or at peace when in fact they were not that way at all.
Such expressions in group bring forth much laughter, signifying the relief that a façade was not necessary here.