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Groups

Current Offering:

 

Virtual Psychoeducation Group for Adults with Childhood Trauma 
Starting Wednesdays, Fall 2023. 4:30-6 pm CST, weekly, for 6 months. Must be in IL or MA.
 

For adults who think they have (or may have) experienced trauma during childhood and are considering:  

  • Even though I have difficult childhood memories, was it really that bad? I.E, Was it right how my parents treated me (what they did and/or did not do) and what they led me to believe about myself, about our family, and about how to interact in relationships? 

  • Did my childhood experience leave me with emotional and relational difficulties that have significant negative consequences in my present life?  

  • How can I gain awareness of how those present difficulties are linked to my childhood  experience, and how can I create a recovery path, a process toward healing? 
     

The “magic” that happens: 

In their families of origin, survivors of childhood trauma experienced ongoing difficulties that  were painful and confusing, leaving them with a variety of toxic core beliefs about themselves and the  world. Such beliefs continue to adversely affect them, often without their being aware of it. One reason  that those toxic core beliefs last so long is that the child relied on them to survive in the dysfunctional  family system. Children are hard-wired to see their family as right and good, and so if they feel bad about  what is going on in the family, they conclude that it is themselves who are bad. This becomes a source of  toxic shame that persists into adulthood.  

To challenge their shame and other toxic core beliefs, adults can benefit from sharing about their  experiences in a group of other adults who “get it.” In contrast to the confusing and hurtful ways they experienced parents and other family members, the others in the group become empathetic and reasonable  witnesses, open to hearing and understanding each other’s experiences. With the guidance of the  therapist, the group members establish a safe emotional connection with each other that is powerful for  helping participants express their feelings and challenge their shame and other toxic core beliefs. For  promoting the healing process, this connection allows for a kind of “magic” to occur that is unavailable in  one-to-one therapy. For many adult survivors of childhood trauma who have had prior therapy, group  becomes a “game-changer.” Group can offer a powerful supplement to individual therapy, and many  people engage in both simultaneously.  
 

Group goals: 

  • The six-month psychoeducation group seeks to create a safe space for adults who are open to  exploring their own childhoods as they learn about childhood trauma, its effects, and paths to  recovery from it.  

  • This space will enable participants to gain healthier perspectives on themselves by sharing their  personal experiences with each other as they learn about key concepts and share their genograms.

Group objectives: 

Participants will learn about key topics relevant to childhood trauma, including: 

  • the basic needs and rights of children 

  • how present experiences can “trigger” strong and recurrent mental/physical reactions  linked to adverse childhood experiences 

  • distinguishing healthy from unhealthy family systems 

  • toxic core beliefs 

  • dysfunctional family rules 

Each participant will create and present to the group a genogram of the participant’s family of  origin: 

  • The genogram covers three generations, indicating information about each of the  characters intended to help explain how they affected the participant as a child. 

  • In presenting it to the group, the participant uses the genogram to support telling the story  of how they experienced the family during childhood. 

Hearing each other’s genograms will help each participant in these ways: 

  • To feel a solidarity with the other participants that strengthens their ability to do  the challenging work of processing their own past. 

  • To recognize similar themes that resonate with their own story and so help validate their own feelings and new ways of understanding their past. 

What happens? 

  • The group meets virtually for 90 minutes weekly for six months. 

  • The group begins with eight participants, who commit to attending for the entire six months; the  group does not add new participants once it has begun. 

  • In the first session, participants introduce themselves and share briefly about what motivates them  to do the group now, as well as hopes and fears about the group.  

  • Subsequent sessions begin with each participant “checking in” for 1-2 minutes about anything  relevant to the group; the sessions conclude with each participant “checking out” for 1-2 minutes  about anything relevant to their experience of group that day.  

  • For many sessions, written materials are provided in advance and presented during the session.  • Beginning after two months, each participant takes one full group to present their genogram and  receive feedback from the group. Usually, these presentations occur every other session (not in  back-to-back sessions). 

  • Because of the time it generally takes participants who are survivors of childhood trauma to  establish a sense of safety with each other, participants in the six-month group agree to limit their  interaction with each other to group sessions; they do not interact outside of group. 

Cost: 

  • The fee for each session is $75, which is due at the time of the session. 

  • Not in any insurance network; paid invoices available for out-of-network reimbursement.

  • In a spirit of fairness recognizing that participants commit to attending all sessions, but that life can sometimes get in the way, participants are required to pay for the second of every two sessions that they miss.

This description was created by Christopher Frechette, LCSW and Patrick Teahan Therapy. It is based on the work of Amanda Curtin, LICSW.

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