OCD Group Therapy
Group therapy is a therapeutic modality that can, in a large number of cases, represent a fundamental and sometimes indispensable tool in the process of reducing the anxiety responsible for obsessions and compulsions.
In a group context, completely different elements are involved compared to a dual context, and even neurobiological aspects that are impossible to work on directly in individual therapy are activated.
At Ipitia we have always worked with the idea of an Immersive Therapy, which encompasses all aspects of the human being, with the aim of bringing the person back to life. And there is no life without contact and exchange with other people.
As Aristotle said, the human being is a “social animal”: if we do not help people to develop naturally in social environments, some elements of their psyche can remain anchored in fear, not allowing the person to connect with many aspects of their primary nature; and thus end up living a thought life (obsessions, compulsions, constant doubts).
For these reasons, Group Therapy, both Online and Face-to-Face, represents a perfect complement to Individual Therapy or, in some cases, a valid alternative to it.
Structure of the therapy and
When to start
– Group therapy can be carried out both in person in Barcelona and online, from anywhere in the world.
– Both face-to-face in Barcelona and online, it is possible to carry out the treatment in Spanish, English, Italian and French, interacting with the psychologist and people who speak the same language.
– The groups have a maximum of 10 participants in the Face-to-Face Therapy, and a maximum of 5 in the Online Therapy.
– The groups are “Open“. This means that participants can start therapy and join the group whenever they wish, and the group will welcome new participants as they join.
– The dynamic is interactive: the psychologist can propose exercises, topics of conversation and moderates speaking turns, but the interaction between participants is the main objective.
– All participants sign a binding confidentiality contract in which they agree not to violate each other’s privacy in any way.
– The group therapy is carried out with one of the psychologists in charge of the area of the Ipitia Centre in Barcelona.
– Group therapy can be started at any time during the treatment: directly at the beginning, when individual sessions have already been carried out or even once the individual treatment has finished, as a reinforcement to maintain the results obtained.
– Ipitia’s recommendation is to complement Individual therapy with Group therapy, as different aspects of the psyche are worked on, as explained below.
The importance of Group Therapy
As mentioned above, the social aspect of obsessive disorder is of fundamental importance in its development, in its maintenance and, therefore, in its possible cure. Specifically, we are going to detail some of the elements that allow Group Therapy to have a determining influence on the patient’s progress and the progressive reduction of obsessive symptoms.
– Different obsessions, similar personalities. Although we are well aware that each case is different and each story is unique, thanks to our research and clinical experience we have been able to isolate personality factors and life events that recur very frequently in people who have developed an obsessive disorder. During group therapy, participants realize that, despite having completely different obsessions from other patients, they share personality traits, life fears, conceptions of risk, family histories. In this way, the symptom loses importance, while those elements acquire importance, which are the ones that need to be worked on and truly unblocked in order to begin to overcome an obsessive disorder. Ipitia’s methodology is not based on working on the symptoms, but on their causes, and in group therapy it becomes clear why.
– The gaze of others. The vast majority of patients with obsessive disorder are concerned about “what others will say” or “what others will think”. They tend to repress behaviours, thoughts, or desires based on what they believe others expect of them. It is as if the gaze of others is installed in their consciousness and has the power to condition them from within. Working in a group in a safe environment under the supervision of an experienced psychologist provides the possibility to directly influence this dysfunctional mechanism. Acquiring greater freedom from the “gaze of others” is one of the goals of group therapy.
– Social norms and Overself. At birth, the child is unaware of the outside world, responding only to his or her basic internal impulses. Over the years and with contact first with parents and then with the outside world, an idea is formed of what is “right” and what is “wrong”, of what to say and what not to say, in short, of what social norms are. This whole set of beliefs and norms has been called the “Overself” by some psychologists. Due to life events, the Overself of patients with obsessive disorder tends to be very strict, punishing, and limiting, so that the more instinctive/pulsive part is lost in excess over time. Working in a group makes this belief system more flexible, redefining the concept of freedom and transgression in a social environment, thus reducing the anxiety responsible for obsessions and compulsions.
– The Loneliness of OCD. Many people with an obsessive disorder have experienced extreme loneliness over the years. Sometimes the fears are “unconfessable”, create shame and make one feel weak. Many of our patients do not feel understood by anyone and end up hiding both the illness and the associated moods from everyone. Group therapy helps to alleviate this suffering, as it is possible to meet people with similar stories who are struggling to overcome the problem, to understand that what is happening to them is not “rare” and to feel that there are solutions. Meeting a person who is further along the therapeutic path and providing support during therapy allows one to become aware of the progress made, and meeting a person who is further along allows one to see that there is hope. This encounter is necessary and positive in any case and is one of the goals of group therapy.
– Support network. Patients suffering from an obsessive disorder often feel lonely in general, not only with regard to the obsessive problem. Although it is not compulsory, group therapy provides the possibility of generating a support network that in many moments can be extremely useful in generating ideas, new habits and openness to new social environments.
– Social mirror. The people around us in our daily lives tend to have a stable idea of us. Just as it is difficult to change, it is also difficult for others to see and accept our changes. This way of “pigeonholing” people is a natural tendency in any environment, but it is also a tendency that makes it difficult to change and to bring out parts of the personality that need to be released in order to overcome OCD. Group therapy provides the possibility of a new “social mirror”, in which to construct oneself in a different way, freer, more connected with the essence, and stripped of the prejudices of the environment to which the patient is accustomed, in order to be able to do so, later on, at any time in his or her life.
– A bridge between Individual Therapy and real life. One of the objectives of any Individual Therapy is that the patient develops the ability to transfer his or her learning to his or her daily life, with the consequent creation of a different lifestyle. Sometimes the leap between individual therapy and “real life” is complicated and scary. A therapeutic group symbolically represents a small portion of the world out there, which is the one the patient wants and has to learn to live without fear if he/she wants to reduce the anxiety that underlies the obsessions. For this reason, Group Therapy as we understand it in Ipitia constitutes a bridge between what the patient works individually with his psychologist and his life outside the Therapy, since all the elements of real life are worked in a symbolic way, represented by the other participants, and that is why we suggest its complementation.
From the beginning we work to decrease the internal level of anxiety, so that obsessions and compulsions decrease.
An effective modality , aimed at people, who cannot come to our center for work reasons, place of residence or other.
A fully personalised 5-day programme, with therapies and exercises. Tackle your OCD in a powerful way.