CCTA is announcing a new Group psychotherapy for teen girls dealing with anxiety!
Group psychotherapy has been around since the early 1900s (1) and is almost as old as psychotherapy itself. The assumption is simple: if you sit and talk with other people who are going through similar issues as you are, in the presence of a trained clinician whose role is to guide the conversations, you may feel more validated, supported, and motivated to implement change.
Anxiety, on the other hand, has been around since consciousness has, and is adaptive in that it focuses our attention on potentially dangerous stimuli in the world (e.g., a lion pouncing on cavemen). For many people nowadays, (and especially for adolescent girls,) the adaptiveness of anxiety has become overshadowed by the distress it can cause when one’s alarm signal becomes too sensitive to cues in the environment. Ordering a drink at your local coffee shop, getting a grade slightly below an arbitrary cut-off point, or going out in an outfit that doesn’t feel quite “right” triggers the same kind of anxiety as a lion attack. In a podcast with the American Psychological Association, Lisa Damour, Ph.D., cited a study that found a 55% jump in the number of teen girls who experienced symptoms of anxiety over a five-year period. And that was in 2019 (2), i.e., before COVID-19! Interesting to note that this five-year timeframe also correlates with a steep rise in technology and social media use.
Upon researching the topic of Anxiety, you will find thousands of definitions (including this nifty little factsheet on stress vs. anxiety), stats, and resources. So what will group therapy do exactly to help, and why does it work? The main premise is to create a group culture that encourages its members to lean
into the anxiety, rather than shy away from it. Worries of a single bad grade leading to forever homelessness, or a social faux-pas leading to rejection and eternal shame may seem irrational to outsiders but will continue to feel real to the person. In a safe space with like-minded people, teen girls can feel heard and understood, so as to muster the motivation they need to challenge these anxious
thoughts. They become more willing to expose themselves to difficult/dreaded situations, either by practicing in group, or out in the “real world” and by watching others do the same. And when they do, they will find that the worst-case scenario rarely happens, and even if it does, their capacity to cope is much higher than they imagined. After all, anxiety = overestimating the difficulty of a situation +
underestimating our ability to deal with it.
In summary, group therapy brings together the best aspects of companionship, empathy, and supporting people you care about in becoming their best selves. If you believe that you or someone you know may benefit from such a group, reach out to us today by contacting Dr. Noura Khayat at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Noura Khayat, Psy.D., Director of Clinical Services