CBT in Action
Rarely do you encounter a group of men who meet just for the sake of meeting. Men often get together after a game or an activity; however, women seem to meet just to talk – and it is not before or after anything. It is my understanding that women meeting together is very powerful in terms of having an empathic audience and providing a sense of connection. It is also my understanding that these discussions include the following components: 1) celebration of individual successes and milestones; 2) opportunity to vent in a safe place; and 3) problem-solving. I have never been a part of a women’s group – and never will be – however, I assume that the dynamics are very similar to effective therapy.
Judging from the laughter, energy, and genuine joy that I notice (from a distance) when women get together, I suspect that the conversations consist of sharing, affirming, and celebrating individual achievements. Just like the dynamics in a good therapy session, you can never lose sight of the value of noticing the accomplishments in what may feel like a sea of problems.
Women ‘vent’ through telling the whole story. They are given the freedom to spare few details. No executive summaries here! Telling the whole story – moment by moment – is an essential process. Women in groups re-live the thoughts and feelings and, therefore, fully integrate the event or life experiences into their person. The context of telling the story is also important – you have to be in a place where you feel safe and understood. This is achieved by the unspoken rule of ‘take your time’ and by the array of questions from the other women that help to elaborate on the details. Similarly, in a therapeutic environment, being a witness – not a judge – is powerful in that healing takes place in ‘truth-letting’ before an accepting and supportive audience.
In women’s conversations, I suspect that problem-solving is also done ‘slowly’ and solutions are built on areas of strength that unfold as the story is told. In working slowly, women feel even more understood, and in working with her own ideas, she will feel strong and competent … and this is also the goal of therapy.
And is it just the talk that is beneficial? I was told that a woman, who had not contributed any part of her story to the conversation, said to her friend as they were leaving the restaurant, “That was SO helpful!” This woman experienced connection, value, and support by just being in the embrace of caring and empathic friends … and she recognized solutions that had some relevance in her own situation.
I wonder if women truly realize how powerful their conversations really are!
Just a thought …
From Willow Grove Counselling, Inc.