Why Join an Adoption Therapy Group (vs. Adoption Support Group) for Adoptees?
The easy answer is that you want change, and you want to have powerful support and accountability along the way.
In an adoption support group or adoption therapy group, most people learn that while healing is good alone, but it can be better together.
An adoption focused group is a powerful way to address adoption trauma. We heal in relationships, and group provides a variety of relationships in which to work.
In the groups that I run, people come for many reasons, but the main one is that they feel stuck in their story. They may also be caught up in preverbal feelings they can’t understand or communicate very well. Or maybe they are consistently doing something they know sabotages themselves but can’t seem to stop.
Why group therapy?
Group therapy addresses all the same reasons you might go to individual therapy. Some of special things about group:
- Group therapy combats the isolation many people feel
- Group is powerful opportunity to learn how we connect and disconnect. If you want to work on relationship issues and how you are in relationship, group provides that opportunity
- In group, feedback from multiple people broadens perspective
- You can learn in real time about how you communicate
- Support from others helps you feel less stressed and more motivated
- In group you experiment with new behaviors inside group, then take them into your life outside of group and report back
Why choose an adoptee support group or adoptee therapy group?
For adoptees, you have a choice of a mixed group, where you might be the only adopted person, or a group focused on adoptees. Both have their strengths.
An adoptee group will deal more explicitly with the adoption experience, your feelings about it, your history and story and how it shows up in your current life. In addition, in an adoption therapy group or adoption support group for adoptees you will hear and resonate with deep themes that many adoptees share. You will also get clear about what themes and current life issues you have that are different from the other adopted people in the group. To know how you are similar and different is very helpful!
In a therapy group not specific to adoption, you may experience even more variety while you may miss out on the incredible resonance of having other adopted people in the group. You may be challenged to stay more in the here and now by other group members, and will probably be encouraged to look at and weight more heavily aspects of yourself that are not explicitly related to adoption.
Why an adoption therapy group vs. adoption support group?
Simply put, adoption therapy groups provide therapy. They can be instead of individual therapy for you, or can supplement your individual therapy work.
I run adoption groups that are therapy groups, although they also have an adoption support group component because support is one of the things that group does regardless.
What makes my groups therapy groups, also called process groups, is that we look at how you are feeling and experiencing yourself in the moment as you are in group and the feelings and relationships between group members that are developing. I’m there to facilitate, hold the space, and encourage you to stay with what is emerging even when it is difficult, just like in an individual therapy session, and to try to track everyone’s work so that we can maximize the effectiveness of group for all.
I also help members uphold the group rules, to make sure that everyone feels safe. When there is enough safety, important therapeutic work can get done incrementally and suddenly, and people find themselves changing in ways they had only imagined.
In my post next week, I’ll talk more about gains in adoption group therapy and some of the possibilities that may emerge.
Some other differences: therapy is paid (some support groups are free or pay what you can) and requires a weekly commitment. In addition, some leaders require individual supplemental meetings to provide additional support and discuss what is coming up for you in group that might be difficult for you to bring up.
A note on Adoption Triad Groups
Some groups include all triad members, that is, adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth or first parents. This can be really useful if you are looking for different perspectives, but also can bring up some of the tensions already present in the world of adoption as triad members often have very different focuses of attention and sometimes different needs. While some of the themes are similar, right now my groups are only for adopted people in order to make a safe space for the airing of anything and everything related to being adopted.
New Adoption Therapy Group Coming Soon!
I’m regularly interviewing people to join my weekly therapy group for adult adoptees. If you are interested in learning more, contact me! We would discuss timing and availability, and then if I have a space that seems right for you, we would do a complimentary in person consultation.
I love group work because it is transformative and exciting for everyone who participates.
I focus on how we form and shape our experience in the now. I love to help people understand how being adopted and our particular journey of adoption influences our present. When we get that more deeply, when we really understand ourselves and see ourselves reflected in the mirror of others in the group and accepted or challenged by them, then we cannot help but start to make small changes that add up to big shifts in our world, inside and out.
A couple of websites and directories where you can find both NYC and national adoption support groups and therapy groups are listed below.
Psychology Today (this is the NYC list; there are other lists that you can access from the psychology today site by region)
I also recommend this article by adoption therapist Leslie Johnson on the experience of adoption groups.
What are your experiences?
Have you had an experience in a therapy group, or a support group, especially an adoption group with adoptees or with all triad members, that you want to share? Please add a comment below. It might take a little while for your comment to show up but I will read them all!