Gateway’s Bipolar 101 – Online Group Therapy
Last week we started the Bipolar 101 Group at Gateway Psychiatric, the second time we’ve hosted this group. It was inspiring to see how a sense of community and connection can develop so quickly in an online meeting.
I regularly hear of the value that support plays in the lives of people I work with who are managing bipolar disorder; they frequently speak about their communities, friends, and families and the impact they have in their lives. Our first Bipolar 101 Group started out as a great reminder of the role that therapy groups can play in providing support as well. Getting to be a part of a space that allowed individuals to share not only their experiences, challenges, and successes, but to also offer support to one another, felt like a privilege and left me excited for the groups to come.
Bipolar 101 is an online, six session group that covers topics such as general knowledge of the disorder, medications, substance use, early detection of episodes, healthy routines and stress, and other treatment options. Understanding the disorder better allows us to make decisions that can have a big impact on how we function.
In addition to gaining more knowledge and specific tools, the group offers an opportunity to connect with others who may have shared similar experiences to you. I have witnessed that this can be incredibly helpful in allowing individuals to battle stigma, isolation, and feelings of shame. I have also seen this function as a tool of empowerment, connection and motivation.
Group therapy can be a great venue to reaffirm that you are not alone. It can be a space to hear feedback, grow, and gain support. Research has shown that group therapy can serve as a way of promoting a “sense of shared purpose,” groups can “improve social networks and they can reduce stigma, isolation and feelings of alienation among members” and that “peer interactions appear to translate to real-world gains.” When discussing her experience with groups, Nina W. Brown, EdD, a professor at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. describes how, “Members can be agents of change for each other…seeing others’ progress can help group members realize they, too, can cope and feel better.” http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/11/power.aspx
If you are interested in attending a future Gateway Bipolar 101 group, please get in touch with us and we will add you to our list. Also, to explore additional support groups, check out one of our previous group therapy blog posts that discusses virtual and in person groups further: http://moodsurfing.com/support-groups-for-bipolar/
Paturel, A. (Nov 2012). “Power In Numbers.” American Psychological Association. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/11/power.aspx