What is Group Therapy and Why is it Beneficial?

As I walked into the room for the first time, I was filled with both dread and anticipation. I quickly found a seat in a place that seemed both engaged and protected, and watched as the rest of the chairs filled with strangers. It was the start of a new group…

And in the course of just a few weeks, these strangers became some of my closest allies.

Now, years after my first group experience, and knowing first-hand the powerful healing groups can bring, I am passionate about leading them regularly.

When many of us think of “groups,” we have all sorts of associations — working groups in classes or work, small groups from church, sports groups, neighborhood groups, hobby groups or support groups. And while many of these have great benefit, far too often they have negative connotations as well. Far too often, groups are about getting things done rather than about being known.

At Restoration, we believe that “what is broken in relationship is healed in relationship.” It is in the context of actual human to human contact that our lives shift and change. No amount of study, information or behavior management can invite us to come alive again like a genuine relationship can. And there is no better place for genuine relationships to be formed among people than in the context of a ReStory Group.

Paraphrasing Tim Keller, I’ve begun to say, “To be known and loved is our greatest need and desire. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.” The power of groups is found in the opportunity to re-story our experience of relationships with other allies in such a way that we find new ways of being.

That day I walked into my very first group as a participant, I knew the risk I was taking. Would this group of people come to know me and my story and then choose to do what far too many in my life had already done — not love me. OR, would this group of people begin the process of altering my experience by both knowing me and loving me?

ReStory Groups create a space that reflects a microcosm of our lives. How I showed up in that group is how I typically show up in life. I am who I am, and I engage how I engage. And yet the groups also create a relational sandbox where we can explore how I am and who I am without judgment, and begin to provide a new narrative pathway for me to “try on.” What I found in that first group, and in the multitude that I have been in since, is the freedom to become more of who I am in relationship rather than stay stuck in the same old patterns that drive me (and those around me) crazy.

Now, participating in groups is one of my all-time favorite things to do. It’s not about the topic or focus of the group. It’s about the experience of being both known and loved that is so deeply transformational.

What would you do if you were both fully known and fully loved? What would change? How might a ReStory Group provide you the space to truly COME ALIVE?