We can offer group therapy in community for many issues. One example of a group we have facilitated is a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Coping Group.This group can be tailored to serve those with anxiety or depression, and is useful for youth or adults alike. Sessions can be tailored to the issues the group is facing, and supportive discussion can be added if the members are comfortable with each other to share.

Cognitive behavior therapy is one form of psychotherapy that has been found to be effective for many different disorders (beckinstitute.org). CBT helps an individual to identify distorted thinking, modify their beliefs, and make behavioral changes. Clients learn cognitive, behavioral, and emotional regulation skills and become their own therapist (beckinstitute.org).

Group Program Contents:

1. Understanding thoughts, emotions, and behaviors behind stress and setting goals.

Progress towards decreasing stress is gradual and we need to decrease our expectations or we may put undue stress on ourselves during recovery. Together we can look closely at our problems, break them down into manageable units, and set specific goals to improve our situations. Physical activity, sleep, diet, and our home environment can be examined to create a positive and sustainable lifestyle. We need to take care of ourselves if we want to be able to give to others, and that means building fun into our daily lives.

2. Examine the role of stress, lifestyle, and social support on stress.

Are you passive, aggressive or assertive?

We can look at your behaviour, posture, attitude, feelings and goals to determine your communication style. We will learn communication skills that convey respect for yourself and those around you so that your relationships will be enhanced. Assertiveness skills are useful at work, for stating your opinion and allowing others theirs. We can all be heard and feel appreciated so we can maximize our potential. We can learn to express your wants and needs, while allowing others to do the same. Decrease your critical demeanor, learn to be less insulting, and show you value others beliefs with us in group.

Equal rights to expression are important because we are all valuable, and self-esteem increases as you learn to be kind and gentle to yourself. Your respect for others will show as you become comfortable obtaining feedback, not getting your way, and learn to see value in those you work with. Gradually you will be able to decide how clear and direct to be, when you need to become firmer and how to respond under fire. Conflict resolution skills will be instilled as you become comfortable being yourself in public and communication will be enhanced.

Social support helps us ward off and recover quicker from anxiety and depression. We feel more confident when we have a social network full of positive support to help us with stressors. It takes time to increase our support because we need to be a friend to have one. We can begin by increasing the support in our existing circle of friends, and then by seeking new connections perhaps through hobbies and community involvement. Sharing and taking chances in relationships helps others to feel comfortable doing the same. Doing things together helps us keep active and optimistic.

3. Overcoming negative thinking and handling changes in mood.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is based on the idea that what you think effects how you feel and act. It is difficult to change our behaviour or feelings without first looking at what was going through our mind. Our interpretations of situations colour our take on events, and negative thoughts can increase our stress, anxiety, and depression. Often we will put ourselves down in our mind and feel upset as a result. We forget our thoughts are not always accurate and our perceptions not always based on reality. Our automatic thoughts can be as fast as typing, and we can learn new ones with practice. When our automatic thoughts are unhelpful we can examine them and test their usefulness. Negative thinking leads to more negativity, and many distortions are beyond our awareness and subtle. We can monitor our automatic thoughts and develop a healthy viewpoint so stressors have less negative effects.

We may notice our mood is up and down, and that our nerves feel worn and depleted. Trying to recognize changes in mood as part of the process of recovery is essential, we will feel better once treatment progresses.

4. The “mood emergency plan” and course review.

We can be proactive and plan to handle future stressors by taking care of ourselves, decreasing our responsibilities, and allowing time to relax during busy times. By reflecting on triggers for our stress we can learn to know when we will have difficulty and put social supports in place in advance. Reducing our obligations is easier once we are assertive and can say no to overextending ourselves.

Paterson, R. J., McLean, P.D., Alden, L. E., & Koch, W. J. (1996). The

Changeways Program, Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre.