Group was horribly upsetting. I’m up in the middle of the night worrying so might as well write about it.
The worst part for me is losing trust that Ron knows what the hell he is doing.
Anyhow. New group member M reports that last week’s group triggered her into a major episode of cutting, which she is worried will turn into her attempting suicide again. She’s only been out of hospital two weeks.
Ron look really bad, not like a man who’s had a vacation. He is pale and haggard. Apparently he and M have just had a session about this.
Ron’s idea seems to be to do a long session with M during group time. He’s wanting her to speak from the dissociated parts that cause her to cut.
M does not seem upset, as in she’s not crying, she seems cheerful and outgoing describing her experiences. The part of her that self-harms is totally behind the scenes. So Ron wants to talk to that part, and get her to show emotion.
So there’s a long part of the group where they go back and forth. He’s providing insight, she’s kind of looking at him thoughtfully, pretty well unmoved by anything he says. Then she goes back to her cheerful descriptions.
I sit there pretty angry once again. Because I don’t think this is what group is good for. I don’t think it’s really for these individual therapy breakthroughs that Ron seems to be looking for.
So all the stuff I was wanting to find out from last week got thrown out the window. Everyone in the group tries to help M, but really, we don’t know what will help. I ask her what she would find a helpful response, and she doesn’t know.
I do say after about forty minutes that I find the situation upsetting and overwhelming, that cutting is not something I have experience with. It’s hard to say this, so I kind of whisper it. Ron asks M what it’s like to hear this, and she says it’s OK, she understands she’s not that normal. He pays no further attention to how I might be feeling. OK, I understand she takes priority. Even though what he’s trying to do with M doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
After a while, discussion veers away from M for a bit, thank goodness. Ron seems to give up on the therapy he’s trying to do.
E starts talking about her experience of self-harm during the last week. M and E mention that they are triggering each other into doing more self-harm. There’s quite a bit of discussion about how self-harm feels, why it feels good….E gets emotional while she’s talking about it, which M never does.
A talks about his sister, who had a hard time in school, and whom M reminds him of, and he starts crying. Then he talks a bit more about his family.
I talk a bit about my family also, about how they never discuss anything that happened in the past. Ron asks me if they are like that about my cancer. I’m not sure, as it’s so recent. I say that my mother still asks me how I’m doing.
It seems to me that the regular group just gets thrown out the window with these crisis situations. Relationships between group members are no longer discussed. I thought that’s what group was for? I’m pretty sure M is not going to have a therapy breakthrough in group that suddenly solves her self-harm, however hard Ron tries. Group isn’t for that. IMO.
I’m sad that we couldn’t continue group in the regular way. And now, do I have to worry every time that the stress of the group is going to cause M to cut, the way it did last week? Or worse?
I think some people are not stable enough for this kind of group, if they’re really at serious risk. Group is not reassuring. I’ve found the benefit comes in examining the relationships within it. M has never done that aspect. When she participates, it tends to be when she is in a crisis, and she talks only about herself. Understandable. But why do this in a therapy group?
The other aspect is that I don’t think I was the only person upset by this, but the situation encourages people to sit on their real responses. We want to help, so it makes sense. But meanwhile, Ron has spent so much effort telling us it’s OK to say your real reactions, that’s what is healing. But in these situations with M, he does not encourage it. I was the only person who said anything about being uncomfortable and overwhelmed. Ron really only focuses on M in these crisis scenarios, and all the nice words about ‘be real’ go out the window.
And I lose the sense he cares about me at this time. He only seems to want to help M. When the conversation turns general, he kind of gives up.
I was so relieved when other people started talking about their stuff. If it had been an hour and a half individual therapy with M, I couldn’t have stayed.
The other thing being, I get really mad in these situations. I’m trying to explain why. I feel that Ron is abandoning his ideas of how groups should work and what they’re for. Anyway, I sit there fuming, angry with Ron but knowing that this is not the time to get into it. There’s a girl sitting here who will cut herself to shreds if I say the wrong thing.
OK, that sounds really harsh. It’s just, I don’t know what to do. And now I can’t sleep.