Group Therapy?

So many ideas, so little motivation. My drafts folder is overloaded with stuff. I think of an idea, whip out my iPhone and note the idea plus some basic points about it down, then get back home and stare at the closed laptop in contempt, and go and do something else (until yesterday, that was mainly playing Dish0nored, although I’ve completed one ending of it now. Gamer? Go and buy it if you haven’t already done so!). Or, more frequently, nothing else.

I go through periods like this quite frequently, so if you’ve heard nothing from me on Twitter, on your own blogs, via email or in response to comments left here, it’s because I’m hiding from the world. It’s not that I’ve lost interest in any of I'll Be Backyou – never that. It’s just that my social awkwardness often extends into the online world, particularly when I’m feeling low. I wouldn’t describe myself as depressed as such, but I recognise that the symptoms of an episode are wider ranging that just mood. Not that I would describe said mood as sublime, having said that. Does that ever happen outside a manic episode? I don’t know what I believe about that any more – a subject of one of these billion unwritten posts, indeed. Anyway, sorry. To coin a cliche, it’s not you, lovely people; it’s me. The whole SAD thing doesn’t exactly help matters.

Anyway, I’ll be back!

The Man and I had both been wondering lately what was going on with my therapist. The service offers 26 weeks of individual therapy – though this period has been my second with him – and can’t really deviate from that due to its charitable status. My therapist is very dedicated to his job and works long hours, so I wouldn’t dream of asking him if he took on private clients in his spare time. He has very little of it.

Anyhow, yesterday, as we sat down he said:

Karen, I’ve been remarkably remiss. I’m supposed to keep regular track of how things are going and of how long we’ve got left, and in your case I haven’t. I’m usually quite meticulous about it, even though a lot of the mood tracking stuff’s a load of bollocks. Anyway, the upshot of this is that we only have two weeks left after this.

I had wondered. Bad timing, but it’s okay – I understand. I expected this.

I’m really sorry. I think the reason I haven’t kept up to date on this is simply that I don’t want to finish this process with you. [He loves exploring his own countertransference issues.] As I’ve said before, in an ideal world I’d work with you twice a week for at least two years.

[shrug] It’s not an ideal world! It’s okay, really.

[evidently frustrated] There’s more to do, though, isn’t there?

Probably, but…


Group Therapy? Geddit?! The group ‘Therapy?’? No? Oh well.

You get the idea. We had a discussion about whether or not returning to him had been useful, and I told him that I thought it had. There was a period over the summer where I was feeling relatively stable where I hadn’t actually found it as much help as I otherwise would, but when things returned to normal (apathetic nothingness), it did start to find its feet properly again. Unfortunately, just as we’re starting to really explore issues again, here it is ending. How typical.

Something crossed my mind as we talked, and all that great minds stuff must be true (not that I’m a narcissist or anything, oh nooooo), because he then brought him up himself:

Do you remember months ago we talked about the group?

I did. He had suggested that I’d be “perfect” for group therapy. I remember raising my eyebrows at this. I do not deal well with people. I don’t even like most of them, and frankly they scare me. Nevertheless, I told him to count me in, were it to go ahead.

I told him this:

I’m scared shitless of the group, but yes, I remember, and yes, I’m still interested.

Good. I still think you’d be perfect. It’ll be starting in about four weeks, so that’d be a couple of weeks after we finish here, all being well. It’s not ideal, but…

No, it’s fine. Can you tell me what format it takes?

There’s two facilitators, and about eight clients. All of them will have had individualised therapy before this, and even then they’ll be interviewed to ensure suitability.


Oh, don’t worry. I’m not going to interview you. I’ve sort of been doing that for two years!

Good. And the type of therapy..?

Psychodynamic. Object relations based, about the dynamics of the group, you know the drill – similar to what’s been going on here on a one-to-one basis. The group lead the conversation. My co-facilitator is not psychodynamic-based, but she’s been training in it and I have every confidence in her. Plus, another model always brings something extra.

[potentially horrified] Please tell me she’s not a C- or DBT practitioner!

Oh, don’t be daft. We have some standards!

[smirk] Okay. I’m in. It’s about facing your fears, innit? My fear of people. I’m going to confront it and do this.

That reminded me of when The Man and I were recently on holiday across a couple of the Canary Islands. The ManAnthropophobia decided he had to go on this ride when we visited a waterpark in Tenerife, and despite my vertigo, I decided I would too (it’s worth noting that I don’t actually have acrophobia – it’s not a fear of heights per se. It’s genuine vertigo – the whole dizziness, shaking, spinning, lack of balance, yakka yakka. It started suddenly, randomly, on a bridge in Vancouver about six years ago; before that, I’d be dancing on the side of the Grand Canyon [and did.] We spent a while taking about what this meant in the session, but that’s by the by as far as this post goes.) I was so going to go on this slide. 90 feet – meh. I would sit at the top and smile at the 50° slant and the not inconsiderable drop to the bottom. I was quite determined that I was going to face my vertigo head on and stick two fingers right into its face.

So, we spent about an hour and a half queueing for this bloody thing, and when I got less than 10 feet from the top, my resolve predictably capitulated.

Will my resolve to confront my fear of human beings predictably capitulate, or will I be able to face it and actually attend this group?

Honestly, I don’t know. I told my therapist I was in, and as things stand, I very much am. It’s my only shot at continuing free/cheap therapy, and in particular it’s my only chance at continuing therapy with this therapist, which is what I want.

I do want to do this. I need to do this – if I can’t get on with a group of strangers who have experienced the very same issues that I have, how can I hope to again walk into an office and integrate with colleagues?

But, ultimately, I am a coward who can’t easily stick at things. I always have been.

In other news, months after I last saw her, my psychiatrist has finally deigned me worthy of seeing her again. To be fair, it’s almost certainly not her fault that there has been a long delay, and she’s told me in the past that in such circumstances, I’m supposed to ring her office and kick up hell. Unfortunately I’m too scared of the phone to even entertain that idea, but I appreciate her sentiment. Anyway, I’m sure I must’ve mentioned at some point that there had been (yet another) mega shake-up in psychiatry in these parts, meaning that my psychiatrist has moved to a big scary specialist psychiatric hospital, which I’m sure is partly responsible for the delay. As for the interim CPN – well, she cancelled our last appointment, and I have no idea who or even if I’ll see one in the new nuthouse.

Someone make me finish the CATastrophe story. There were developments even after the original saga ended.

Picture credits: For images one and two, please see outgoing links. Image three is based on this, but was modified by me.

9 comments on “Group Therapy?

  1. I can relate to your fear of group situations, I had pretty much the same feeling when I first went into one, but I found that once the routine of the regular core group get together and begin that opening up thing that usually happens things really do get easier. I think you have made the first leap of actually WANTING to go and carry on the therapy process and that is quite often the hardest part (apart from actually walking through the door on the first day). I say congratulations to you and hope you get everything you need from the group.

  2. Yes Karen I totally agree with Paul- the first step is in _wanting_ to go to the group, good for you!! I went to group on the NHS for- I think- 12 weeks and while it certainly didn’t ‘cure’ things and I was _really_ scared going in that first week it did sorta help to be among people who understood the sort of feelings I was going through.

    Anyway as always i really hope it works out for you :o)

    Best wishes

  3. i’m really sorry, but i was reading this and thinking properly erudite thoughts and all and then i got to “this ride” and all i could think of was frank zappa singing this:

    I can take about an hour on the tower of power
    As long as I gets a little golden shower

    and your interesting post got wiped out in my head. sorry :/

  4. I’ve always refused to go within a million miles of group therapy due to my hatred of other people so I think you’re incredibly brave. But you need continuing therapy and if that’s the only way forward, it’s the only way forward. Fuck the NHS.

    I hope the SAD fucks off and dies.

    Lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  5. Group therapy could be a good way to do some healing, I’d say. Well, the logical part of me would say. Personally, I find things like that pretty icky, but I’d still go for it probably if I were offered it. Not that that MEANS you should do so as well, I just think it’d be good for anyone, even if it is a rather icky concept to appreciate. And it hasn’t really been said enough here: you are definitely not a coward. Well, I’ll keep this short and simple so I don’t sound any more ridiculous. Keep well Karen.

  6. Group therapy….. I was at it for a few months but had to leave. It wasn’t the right time for me. Sucks that you have to leave individual therapy but at least there is this option there so you’re not completely dropped. Might be very odd having to “share” your therapist though now. I’d imagine id find that quite hard to adjust to. Xx

  7. Sorry for the delay in responding to the comments here. Apart from my 1984 rant, I’ve pretty much ignored this place for ages. I just wanted to thank you all, as always. I appreciate the feedback and good wishes 🙂 (((hugs))) all round ❤ xoxox

  8. Pingback: This Week in Mentalists: the Leveson edition « The World of Mentalists

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