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Friday, 17 November 2017

Is Group therapy for you and how does it differ therapeutically from private one to one therapy? There are many positive benefits in attending well facilitated, safe Group Psychotherapy: Mairead Ashcroft 17/11/17

I believe that Psychotherapy, in all modalities, may be beneficial for individual emotional and/or psychological needs, whether experience life difficulties or putting into place a tool kit or safety maintenance during the calmer times so that a safety net is prepared when crisis occurs. We each have needs unique to the individual, so it is important to engage in a form of psychotherapy that fits your needs. Are you a person who likes to use words to express yourself for example? Maybe talking, or narrative therapy might be right for you. If connecting to your body is one of your needs, movement or music therapy may help you dance your anxiety away or whole body focusing can enable less physical exploration of you inner world. Creative arts therapies are a great way to engage with thoughts and feelings when you are unable to find the words to say what you need to say. Mindfulness, meditation and grounding might be your go to for staying in the present while undergoing any of the above mentioned psychotherapy modalities. There are so many others not mentioned here that you may also engage in, any may find that all of the above may be practiced with a therapist in private session, on to one or in a group. Which type of session might be the most beneficial therapy for you, one to one or group. This depends on your needs, budget, goals, and commitment to attend therapy on a regular basis.   
Private one to one sessions are held in a relationship solely consisting of the single client, therapist and if you are lucky, therapy animal. Any matter discussed has 100% of the therapist attention. The single client is the only navigator in the session and the center of all of the content is driven by the single client.One-on-one sessions usually last for 50 (general) - 90 (extended) minutes  
Group Therapy has a relationship which consists of the individual clients forming a cohesive, safe and trusting group, who are facilitated by a therapist. For this reason it is important that clients attend group regularly to become familiar with each others needs. They are then able to better support one another as peers. The aim of the group can be tailored to fit the needs of the group. The group could be focused towards a client demographic, for example,  anxiety, depression, OCD, men's issues specific, women's issues specific, or therapy specific, for example, art therapy, talking therapy, dance therapy etc. Group therapy sessions tend to be longer in duration than one to one sessions, some lasting up to half day sessions or weekend retreats, and to be cheaper per hour than one-on-one sessions. The modality of therapy offered in group therapy will depend on a balance of the therapist level of skill and qualifications and the specific needs of the group as a whole and the individual needs of the clients in the moments during session.
The benefits of being in a therapeutic group are many, one of the most obvious being:
  1. Knowledge that as humans, we are not alone in our grief and life difficulties. Others include-
  2. Experiencing interpersonal relationships with non family members or social friend ships, on a smaller scale than in our every day lives.
  3. Explore and practice emotional regulation and respect that others may have values that differ from ours.
  4. Learn to value honest feedback and move forward 
  5. Experience ourselves though other peoples eyes and mirror back our authentic experience of others in constructive ways.
  6. Testing and understand the idea that sometimes, the behaviours, values and qualities that we see in others are actually projections, or qualities about us and respectfully learning, in a safe place, why this might be happening and what effect it is having on our relationships.
  7. Witnessing others gain personal growth and introspection can offer individual insight into our own internal world and external reactions.
  8. Discovering personal needs in relationships and gaining objective understanding on how we may present ourselves in order to have these needs met.
  9. Group cohesiveness and the ability to express ourselves with freedom and then gaining the courage to transfer that freedom of expression into our every day relationships in respectful ways.
  10. Strengthening of self esteem as group members find their voices.
  11. The ability to know that self-disclosure within the group will be welcomed, respected, maintained and held within a safe boundary by the facilitator, and believed and remain confidential. 
  12. Group member may be at differing stages of recovery or personal development. This dynamic may instill hope for those who are still finding their way and may boost altruism for those who may have overcome a similar psychological or emotional hurdles. 
There are many other benefits to group therapy. I have only covered a few factors about group therapy but there is much more available online. 
Art of life Counselling runs Groups Art Therapy based on the principles of Irvin Yalom's Theory and Practice of Psychotherapy. You can find out more at Art of Life Counselling.
So it is up to you to choose what you need at the moment. One thing I forgot to mention is that group work is not all about people sitting around talking about problems. At times we cry together, there is not doubt about it, but sometimes they are tears of joy and hilarity.

I hope you have found this helpful in deciding is group therapy is for you.
Live your Bliss

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Moon Shadow the Therapy Dog and I are ready for action. As a fully qualified team ( Animal Assisted Psychotherapist and Therapy Animal ) Moon Shadow is ready to cuddle, play and be her beautiful self for those who need her special connection. Mairead Ashcroft 11/11/17

Moon Shadow is a gorgeous girl who started her life in a sad, cadged, puppy breeding prison. She had given birth to 8 puppies from 3 litters before her 3rd birthday. I was the lucky human who was at Pets Haven Foundation Woodend Vic on the day that Moon Shadow was looking for her forever home. It was love at first sight. We have been inseparable ever since, living and working together. She attends group art therapy workshops and private counselling sessions that I hold for my clients. Interactions with Moon Shadow depend on my clients wants and needs. We usually greet my clients
together at the door or lift. Clients are always informed about Moon Shadow and can choose to have her out of sight if needs be. There are many interventions that can include the assistance of a four legged friend. 

Moon Shadow is a Staffodshire Bull Terrier x Jack Russel who is a smoochy, calm and friendly girl. Some people fear the Staffodshire breed due to bad press in past years because of gangs who indulged in blood sports, torturing these dogs so that they would behave aggressively. Due to their strong, muscular frames and broad heads, the poor dogs could withstand hours of punishment. This meant larger betting profits for the gang members and betting participants. Staffies are not aggressive by nature, far from it. Most are lovable companions who love people, other dogs but most of all, the company of children. All dog owners, no matter the breed, is advised to train their dog in basic obedience and manners for the dogs safety. Like children, dogs feel safe when they have clear boundaries, consistency and someone that they trust has their best interest in hand.

Live your Bliss
And Moon Shadow


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