Katie May is the “Group Guru”.
She works exclusively with teenagers in a teen support center in Flourtown, Pennsylvania.
Groups energize Katie. She says that groups can’ save the world.
In groups, people feel less alone in their struggles and they start to heal in ways that individual therapy can’t provide.
Her groups are focused on the ideas of connection.
She told us about a group that she runs that looks at being nonjudgmental for teens. She talked about using rocks to illustrate the judgments that they have of themselves. She has them decorate the rocks to describe the judgments and toss them away as a concrete expression of getting rid of their judgments. The teens put the rocks in a bag, weigh them and then toss them away into the water. This helps with processing of letting go of the judgments.
Sometimes her groups do a “compliment circle” to express and receive kindness from others. Her pre and post assessment of their state of happiness improves after the kindness circle occurs.
Katie prefers clear names for groups, rather than clever names. This helps to make the process for the parents and caregivers looking for support for their child finding the groups simple and understanding.
Many times, teens can present with resistance towards therapy.
Katie runs a skills group for teens. The connection that they have with each other is really important.
She offers Dialectical Behavioral Therapy that she infuses in many of her groups. She provides experiential activities to help them actually know what works for them and how it feels.
Group therapy helps clients feel understood and connected to a positive support system. When people can connect with their peers to feel less alone. Social support is so very important and can be a positive experience.
Group therapy isn’t the best setting for deeper individual work that may involve trauma. Also, it can be challenging to balance time between the group members. Another con is that the group members’ personalities don’t always mesh.
It’s so important to build trust and let the relationships form before diving into tough stuff. It’s important to put yourself into the group member’s shoes.