Our Online Shift groups launch this Autumn, and it has given me time to reflect on my own experience of group work. Groups are everywhere. I was born into a group. I grew up in a group. I was schooled in a group. I have worked for organisations. Some group experiences are more positive than others. Some groups we choose, some we don’t. There can be a fear of joining a group, especially if the group consists of strangers, yet this can also feel liberating.
One of the key benefits of group work for me has been hearing a different perspective from others. Without other ideas and thoughts, we have the potential to get stuck in a single story; our own single story that is automatic and safe. There have been times when normalisation has been a life saver for me, knowing that someone else feels the same. Someone else’s experience, away from family and friends, can be reassuring at times.
The personal in group learning
During my early experiences of group work it was drummed into us to speak from the “I”. Later in my therapy training I experienced others who could only speak from the “We” – how intolerant I was of that. Screaming internally – But I don’t feel the same! By learning to speak from the “I” we begin to find our voice and start to reveal a sense of self that has been hidden behind the person we want to be, rather than the person we are. Using the “I” is a fabulous way of finding your voice.
Similarities and differences
The group setting encourages everyone to speak their truth and to be heard. Which means there maybe difference in our individual stories but also similarities in our need to be heard. Recognising similarity and difference is significant in the group setting. We often see similarities first; why wouldn’t we? It offers a topic of conversation and ice breaker. Similarities help us to connect with others. What happens when difference outweighs similarity? Do we have to be like-minded to share a group with others?
Like mindedness is another concept that draws us together as a group. The focus of the Shift Groups is to look at the commonality of humanness, whilst exploring the individuality and uniqueness of each member. We can come together to support this area of personal development, in a like-minded way.
Our shift groups offer growth and resilience; empowering you to move forward, whilst acknowledging the transition and the impact it is having on you in the present. Gaining different perspectives, recognising similar struggles and finding ways to shift your thinking can be hugely beneficial – we hope that you will join us.
by Jane Askew