And just like that, it’s all over.

Today marked the one month anniversary since I started doing something different. On January 10th, a cold Friday, I started group therapy, and today was the final day. I’m a mix of emotions about it. There were fantastic people that I met, and wonderful facilitators who ran the sessions. I still have individual therapy once or twice a week, but I know that I’ll miss the group environment, where the conversations with people were open and and brazenly honest. You don’t always get that in your every day life.

I never expected to go to group therapy at any point in my life. Point blank, I didn’t think it would give me the attention that I needed, and well, I was kind of right on that, but there were so many benefits I didn’t anticipate. There were also a few things I noticed that weren’t quite as good as they are in one-on-one therapy. You know I love a good retrospective, so here’s what I’ve learned:

Pros of Group Therapy

Feeling less alone: When you’re surrounded by people that are trying to get better, it hammered home something that I’m so big on: we are not alone. It’s one thing to say it, but when the people around you are getting real about their issues and problems, it can make you feel like you are much less alone because the proof is in front of you, and it’s unmistakable. There are so many people, just like you, people who are just trying to make a little bit of progress. I’m sure that almost all of these people felt alone at some point, and maybe they still do, but in the group setting, you’re all alone together, if that makes any sense at all.

That group discussion feeling: Sometimes, in individual therapy, I just don’t feel like talking. The best therapeutic relationships, at least for me, have been when the therapist asks a prompting question, and you answer with a long response. It also helps if it feels like a conversation. In individual therapy, however, there are times when I just don’t have it. I’m not ready to talk for a long period of time, and the minutes tick by ever so slowly.

Sometimes, in the group setting, I would be an active participant, or I would sit back and just listen to the incredible things that people would say, and I mean that in the best way possible. It’s beautiful to watch someone realize something about themselves in real time. Sometimes, after listening to people talk for a bit, it would knock something loose, and I’d have something of value to offer. Being in a group takes the pressure off, and when you do say something, you really mean it.

Trying to get better: It reminds me of a gym, or at least the allure of a gym. Everyone  is working on themselves, and doing the best they can. People will offer advice if you let them, and your only job in those situations is to let your guard down, to shut up and listen. The advice may not be applicable to you, or maybe it is, but the crucial thing to realize is that in this life, people don’t know much better than each other. Any little piece of advice could absolutely change your life, could change your whole outlook, but you’ll never get the benefit of it if you’re not listening to others, or you’re only listening to the facilitator.

A positive environment: I will miss this the most, that undercurrent of positivity, even in the face of truly mind-blowing problems and circumstances. People really are pulling for each other to get better. It’s such an incredible environment to be a part of. People are so appreciative for what they have, even if it isn’t much. They are grateful for the day, grateful for the opportunity to make just a little bit more progress, whether it’s for themselves or their loved ones.


Consistency: Having the same therapist helps to cultivate a similar environment for each and every session. I have realized certain things about myself after having so many therapists, namely, that I open up more with female therapists, and that when the relationship is good, you will ultimately feel comfortable, and you’ll dive deeper. When you’re supported by the person sitting across from you, that changes the dynamic. You’re aware that your therapist wants you to get better. You feel like that person is playing an active role in your recovery.

Where one-on-one therapy wins: Depth.

The sad reality is that with varying group sizes, and just groups in general, you are rarely afforded the opportunity to dive in with any one person. If you don’t have a ton to cover that day, or if you don’t have a lot issues, that can be perfectly fine. I’ve never found that to be the case with myself. I’m now on therapist number eight, and after many sessions and hours of discussion, I know that there are still new areas that need to be uncovered, as well as recurring issues that for whatever reason have not been resolved.

It can be hard to open up in front of a therapist, the way it was for me at first. It takes work to be that open. It’s a skill that most of us possess, but it needs to be cultivated and practiced or it just won’t be there. Digging under the surface is hard. If it wasn’t, then everyone would be able to unload their stuff and everyone would walk around happy. I have no data to say one way or the other, I just know that that’s not the world that I see when I’m out there. Maybe people are just focused on getting to where they’re going, or maybe they’re afraid to let the world in.

I’ve learned so much over the past month and a half. I truly hope that I can start to move forward after this, that I can take what I’ve learned, keep some memories, but ultimately move into the next stage of this thing called life. This was an unexpected detour, I’ll call it what it is, but I learned so much, and that’s what’s important. We waste our experiences when we choose not to learn things from them, when we don’t let them shape who we are, and who we could be become, into something better. I’m grateful for what I have learned in group therapy. Thanks for reading.




2 thoughts on “Groups

  1. Life… it can be filled with unexpected plot twists. I applaud the keen awareness that you have chosen to share here. I could comment extensively on your pros and cons perspectives yet I am simply going to say… kudos, Adam, for the amazing growth you are experiencing and for being as candid and honest are you are! Onward, good man


    1. Eric,
      My apologies for slacking in our email correspondence. Thank you for your feedback. Life can definitely take some twists and turns. I’m hoping that for now, I’ll have a little bit of time to rest. As always, thanks for reading my friend.


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