The mindful compassion group therapy program is about learning how to listen to and to make friends with yourself: to meet yourself in whatever you are experiencing with understanding, patience, and support. It is about learning to notice and bring curiosity to your inner experiences and to develop compassionate ways to work with what arises inside—not limited to but including ways to work with the judging, self-criticizing, and/or shaming kinds of thoughts and the painful kinds of emotions you experience. The program is about helping you learn to approach and navigate your inner and outer experiences with compassion, wisdom, and courage. And it is also about helping you learn how to help your nervous system to feel a greater sense of safeness, calm, soothing, and/or ease.
There are many difficulties people experience that grow out of and/or are made worse by the insidious and persistent presence of self-criticism and/or a relative absence of self-compassion in their lives. An over-arching aim of the mindful compassion group is to help participants to develop and experience greater self-compassion (and/or conditions that might help this to grow) and, by doing so, to help reduce the negative, worsening kinds of impacts to well-being that self-criticism, harsh self-judgement, and lack of friendship with oneself tends to have on a person.
The initial phase of the mindful compassion group therapy program consists of 12 sessions. This initial phase is a standalone program in and of itself. For those who wish to continue, a phase two of the program is offered, as well as a Mindful Compassion Practice Group for those who have completed at least phase one.
The mindful compassion group therapy program includes educational information, learning/practicing of mindfulness and compassion-based activities and skills, guided group discussion, as well as complementary creative activities such as writing and collage. Participants are asked to practice the exercises they are learning regularly in between sessions. I provide participants with print materials, as well as audio recordings of guided imagery and meditations to support their practice. I also provide a sketchbook to each participant which is used regularly in-sessions, as well as various art materials and tactile materials that are used during the sessions.
With respect to phase one, each group session is 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours in length. (Session length depends on a few factors and is set prior to program start.) Sessions for phase one typically occur on an every other week basis so that participants have time between each session to absorb and work with what they are learning, and so that participants also benefit from the presence and support of the group over about a 6 month or so period of time.
Who Is This Group For?
Participants come to this group for a variety of related reasons. The group program may be especially suited to individuals who are aware they experience fairly significant self-criticism, self-attack, and/or shame and would like to work on ways to lessen the negative impact of these in their lives (including to work on building greater self-encouragement, kindness, and support within and toward themselves). Participants may be experiencing negative feelings about themselves, anxiety, worry, and/or be wanting to develop ways to support themselves as they deal with various sources of stress (including difficult experiences or circumstances they have experienced in their lives). A more general aim of the group is to enhance the experience of well-being.
To participate in the program, individuals need to have at least a moderate ability to safely tolerate challenging emotions and/or life experiences that may arise, as well as to have at least a moderate ability via social skills and level of functioning to contribute to creating a supportive environment for themselves and for other participants. It is also preferable that individuals have in place support for themselves outside of the group. Although not required, this could include and therapist they may talk to in individual therapy to process more extensively any reflections that come up. Finally, participants have to want to participate in the program: the group therapy program has to be something that is truly speaking to participants at this time in their lives and be something that they earnestly want to participate in.
Interested in Participating?
If you are interested in participating, please contact Tracy Riley to discuss. Group therapy sessions are offered when demand permits.
Photographs and Collage by Tracy Riley