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Have You Joined a Support Group Yet?

By: Pegah Moghaddam, Psy.D.

This post focuses on support for weight loss - a common topic we hear about regularly. However, support groups exist for all sorts of life stages, challenges, crises, and more.

Weight Loss: A Lonely Burden

If you have been attempting to address the weight issues in your life for a while, you may notice that it is somewhat of a lonely road.  Family and friends may get your struggle on the surface, but they may not really understand why you might have to adjust your patterns of eating or cope with the deeper emotions that led you down this path in the first place. They may tire of your new or different patterns and priorities, especially if those fall out of your previous norm or the status quo.

Online groups and general support groups can provide helpful advice to a certain extent,  but when it comes to helping you unearth the deeper causes of your eating behaviors, these forums fall short.

Enter: the therapeutic group to bolster your weight loss journey exponentially!

Sharing in Successful Support

Groups have been a powerful source of healing and support, both formally and informally, for centuries. In addition, therapists have honed in on the qualities of group dynamics that promote growth and healing.

First, groups allow participants to share their stories. The impact of sharing one’s story and hearing another’s narrative is reciprocally beneficial.  Group members feel validated and deeply understood by others who share similar struggles. Sustained togetherness in one another's pain and the shared successes of overcoming struggles is profoundly synergistic, the healing energy grows exponentially.

Second, groups are composed of a consistent, ready-made crew of accountability partners. Group members empathize with the complexity of effectively changing long-held behavior patterns while simultaneously holding one another to their word when members commit to the change process. Unlike with online forums, actually physically showing up for sessions and being accountable to the same group of people (both in the giving and receiving of support) is a powerful part of the experience.

Third, group therapists are trained at picking up unconscious patterns of behavior that reflect the deeper concerns that likely contributed to current struggles with food.  They also have a keen ability to simultaneously empathize with your struggles and challenge such patterns to promote awareness and growth.

Are You Ready? The Ultimate Question

As social beings, we benefit from the opportunity to share our struggles and learn about ourselves in a group setting.

When determining whether group support or treatment is appropriate for our unique needs, the decision to join a group boils down to whether we are ready to wholly work on our relationships.

In this case, relationship is a broad term that not only encompasses interpersonal relationships, but patterns of relating to various aspects of our lives, including but not limited to: food and body, finances, romantic dynamics, work dynamics, and most importantly the relationship with oneself.

Holding Up the (Metaphoric) Mirror

By joining a group, we benefit from fellow group members supporting us by holding up a metaphoric mirror for us.  We develop an awareness of our patterns of thinking and behaving that are consistent across many areas of our lives and thus have opportunities to implement new patterns that would foster growth and a fully lived life.

An added bonus is that fellow group members see us through the ups and downs of our journey with compassion and non-judgment.  The camaraderie, reliability, and honest feedback we receive in a group is almost impossible to find outside of the structured setting inherent in therapeutic or support groups.

An example of a broad-based group that encompasses all of the areas of ones life is an open interpersonal process group in which the group serves as a setting for members to process relational dynamics in all areas of their lives that may directly or indirectly impact their eating behaviors and body image concerns.

Living Fully’s Nourished Group is one such group.  If you are interested in determining whether this group is right for you, please give us a call at 678-459-4619, we’d be happy to support you in your journey.

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