Groups heal: The Development of an Online Women's Group Therapy Program About Healthy Relationships
In my clinical training, I was fortunate enough to run several group therapy programs. It was a mandated component of our training, and something I loved doing. I ran groups for parents, children with anxiety, and adults with social anxiety disorder. My very first job when I graduated was running groups in an inpatient psychiatrist unit in a Sydney-based hospital. I also helped develop an outpatient group program for those discharged from the hospital. These groups helped patients with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression and Anxiety Disorders. My memories of running groups these groups are fond, and the power of vulnerability and sharing of emotions has stuck with me. You see, groups ease shame and normalise our humanity. They foster belonging and connection because participants realise that someone else just like them also faces these struggles. Groups motivate and move people, and offer a space for self-reflection, growth, learning and community. Groups can heal loneliness and disconnection, and are a space where you can feel supported.
I completed my training in 2010, and this year in May 2023 I ran my first online women's group therapy program in my practice. I have never forgotten the power of groups to heal and transform.
For some time, an idea had begun to form in my mind. I was seeing and continue to see lots of women individually who wanted to find love or figure out if their current relationship was healthy or sustainable. I was teaching many of them the same content around red flags, emotional maturity, attachment styles, and soothing their inner child, and wondered if there was a better way to share my knowledge. I knew these women could benefit from the support of each other and a space to practice being more vulnerable with their emotions. I wanted to also make any group I ran as accessible to as many women as possible. In May 2023, The Complete Toolkit For Dating and Maintaining Love was born. And I’m so glad I launched it!
Why Attend An Online Women’s Therapy Group?
The experience of women is unique and special. I note common themes that my female clients tend to struggle with: self-sacrificing and not prioritising their self-care; struggling to express their full range of emotions for fear of rejection or being perceived as too needy; ambivalence about their partners and the health of their relationship; tending to date more avoidant or emotionally suppressed and withdrawn partners and struggling with their own anxiety; losing optimism and hope when dating; a lack of clarity in determining what is a ‘red flag’ when dating; persisting in relationships that don’t allow them to be their most authentic selves; not believing they deserve the love that they long for; shame around their emotions, needs and identity; mistrust in others, and longing for more emotional intimacy and connection in their partnerships. Do you relate to these struggles? If so, an online women’s group may be for you.
My observations from my first online women’s group are that the group facilitated emotional expression and vulnerability, which is a core relationship skill. Many women experienced increased confidence in self-expression and ability to communicate their boundaries and needs. I was most moved by women sharing their struggles which then resulted in a cascade effect of sharing; this was so validating for the other female group members. Understanding the origins of these struggles can be illuminating. Shame really decreases when I see my struggles in another; if I can have compassion for another, it is easier to extend this compassion to myself.
An effective online group should offer skills to manage your presenting concern, as well as a therapeutic space to share and heal. Women from the group reported feeling empowered as they learnt how to self-soothe and comfort themselves when triggered via connecting to their inner child. An important part of my process is to provide feedback questionnaires to collect date to ensure that the groups meet the needs and expectations of participants.
What You Can Expect From The Relationship Space’s Online Women’s Group
● A safe space: A core value of mine is helping my clients feel totally at ease. I will be there to guide you, to validate and hold your emotions, and to facilitate conversation with other group members that is gentle, open, and vulnerable. There is never any pressure to share, simply go with how you feel.
● Like-minded women: My clients tend to have done therapy before, or if not, are open to sharing with others and being self-reflective. They value the warmth and input of the group, and can often relate to each other’s struggles. All the women in the group also accept that they want love in the form of a romantic intimate relationship and understand that there is often healing and work involved to get there.
● Knowledge: I pride myself on using evidence-based practice and the best psychological science to help you heal, whether that means finding love, increasing self-worth, or deepening intimacy in your current relationship. I use Schema Therapy which shows how early life events in childhood can set up our relationship patterns later in life. Using Schema Therapy will increase your understanding of your relationship patterns and behaviours, and I will take you through inner child work, which allows you to self-soothe and validate, so that you become more grounded, calm, and present in your relationships and can communicate with more clarity and ease. You can find more on inner child work and healing in my free webinar here: https://www.therelationshipspace.com.au/post/webinar-an-introduction-to-self-healing-using-inner-child-work
● Skills: You will learn skills in identifying healthy relationships, and how to cultivate more secure attachment. You will do this by understanding and connecting with your inner child. You will identify the feelings that arise within you when your inner child is triggered, and I will show you how to tune inwards and offer that part of you empathy, encouragement, warmth, praise, connection, company, and safety. I will teach you ‘reparenting’ skills so that you become a connection to your inner child. You will practice these skills between groups in your workbook/journal.
● Additional support: The women who participate in the online group can contact me any time via email for additional support as well as opt in to the group WhatsApp chat where I share additional resources and information. Feel free to ask me any dating dilemmas, how to self-regulate when triggered, or anything else that arises.
What Are The Additional Benefits of Online Group Therapy?
Besides the emotional support, I love the efficiency that the women's group offers. That is, I jam-pack so much content and learning into seven weeks that I view as essential relationship skills. The group is almost like a relationship bootcamp!
Financially, the group is also a great option, and offer lots of therapeutic value in a shorter time frame, and is a great supplement to individual therapy, or a stand alone therapy option.
Online Women's Groups Have So Much To Offer
I understand that groups can feel a little exposing; however, I assure you the space is gentle, warm, supportive and nurturing. I can honestly think of no better way to fast-track your healing and practice vulnerability in the safety of like-minded women. The connections formed are real and can support you with sharing your emotional world, an essential relationship skill. When we begin to share our emotional world, we can more clearly see the emotional capacity of others, which is important in finding a healthy relationship.
Do You Want To Fast Track Your Emotional Healing and Find Love?
If you’re ready to explore how my online women’s group, The Complete Toolkit For Dating and Maintaining Love can transform your love life, dating and relationships, reach out as soon as possible. The next group launches 5th September 2023 and is already filling up. It is suitable for single, dating, anti-dating (burnt out), or partnered women.
You can contact me right here: https://www.therelationshipspace.com.au/contact
I look forward to hearing from you!