Group Talk Therapy for PTSD

Group talk can help heal your trauma. Hiding what happened to you makes post traumatic stress disorder worse. Knowing you are not alone in fighting PTSD helps you heal, especially if you can talk to someone who has been through a similar trauma. That’s the drive behind talk therapies. The most common use of group therapy for PTSD is bringing together similarly traumatized people: cops talking to cops, abused women talking to other abused women. It works. A less common, but I think important, option to consider is family therapy, since a trauma to one member hurts the whole family.

A word of caution: if you are going to have to testify about your trauma in court, for example in an assault case, group talk therapy might undermine your credibility. The defendant’s attorney will say you have confused what happened to other group members with what happened to you. It sucks, I know. Group talk therapy can help you get better. The justice system moves slowly. You can’t wait for the trial before you work to heal yourself. But if you use this tool to heal, you might not be a good witness. Talk to your attorney. But decide for yourself. You might want to stick with one on one talk for now, or you may decide the benefits of group talk outweigh the risk. The important thing is to take care of your own healing. Of course, we want to put the **** away. But only you can decide the best way for you to help the courts do that.


Group Therapy

Group talk therapy brings together people with similar traumas to talk about their experience. Here your share your story with others who really will understand because they have similar stories. It helps to know you’re not the only one who feels like this, who acts this way. It helps to know that while your behavior may not be normal by mainstream standards, it is not so unusual among group members. It is liberating to know you aren’t the only one.

Of course, the point of group talk is not to pat each other on the back and say well as long as we’re all messed up together, it’s okay. You join a group to get better, to move forward. When you help another group member with some bit of advice about what worked for you, you will feel incredibly good about yourself. If your group is not helping its members improve their lives, it’s the wrong group. Group members should accept one another at the same time that they challenge one another to improve. That is a very fine line and that’s why talk therapy groups are moderated by a trained therapist.

Some people don’t get better in group therapy. Instead, they are drawn deeper and deeper into other people’s horrors. Instead of feeling better, they feel worse. They reinforce their fears with the fears of others. Their symptoms get worse. If the group is moderated by a good therapist, she will see this and recommend another type of therapy for someone with this problem. If that someone is you, take her advice.

If you are in a group, but don’t feel that it is helping you or if you feel you have nothing to contribute to the group, talk to the moderator. He may suggest another group, another type of therapy, or simply challenge you to participate more fully. Whatever the advice, it is always your choice to stay or go.

Family Therapy

Even if you don’t want to admit it, what happened to you didn’t just hurt you. It hurt the people who love you: your parents, your friends, your wife, husband, significant other, your children. They all suffer, because you suffer. Years after my husband was severely injured in an industrial accident, my son observed, “That pallet crushed all of us that night.” And he is right. Unfortunately, we didn’t talk about it at the time. We each dealt with our pain alone, hoping to spare the others. We each worked to keep our family together, but we didn’t work together at it. It took years to realize how not sharing our pain had actually multiplied that pain for all of us. We would have all healed much faster if we had been willing to acknowledge we were all hurt.

Yes, I know. It is hard to talk about. If you were hurt, you don’t want to hurt those you love by talking about your trauma. You want to protect them. You feel guilty if your trauma hurts them. And your family wants to protect you. So they don’t tell you how they are already hurt by your trauma. If you’re having a good day, they don’t want to bring it up and ruin a good thing. But when you’re not having a good day, well, that’s an even worse time to try to talk about anything important.

That’s why there’s family therapy. Family therapy gives you a time and place to talk. And family therapy provides a referee, I mean therapist, who can make sure everyone gets a turn and everyone is treated fairly. A therapist won’t let the group gang up on one member. A therapist won’t let any one person take more than their share of the blame. Most important, she won’t let you ignore the really challenging, painful issues that you have been avoiding.

Don’t let your trauma scar your children. Don’t let your trauma shatter your family. If your PTSD is eating away at the foundations of your family, this therapy can help all of you cope with the changes in your lives. You can work together to beat your common enemy: post traumatic stress disorder. That’s how families are supposed to work – together.

You will still have problems you need to work through on your own, but family therapy can make it easier for your family to cope while you do that.

Don’t go it alone!

Post traumatic stress disorder is a disease of isolation. You suffer alone. You try to cope alone. No one understands how you feel. Your family and friends don’t deserve to be hurt by your problems, so you keep quiet. 

All of that is bull. There are people out there who know exactly how you feel. And the people who care about you are already hurting.

Group talk therapy and family therapy are options to consider in your quest to rebuild your life.


Pain vs. Suffering

Love is Not Enough

Tell Someone

The Truth Matters

Healing PTSD

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