As a doctor and as a pws, I have often wondered about these questions. Over the years, I have understood the role, the big role, played by a third party- the others. The group, of which both the sufferer and the therapist may be just a part. Students of “systems theory” will have no problem with this claim, of course.
The group plays a part both in “causing” the problem and also in its eventual resolution. Why? because, we are “social animals”. Our thoughts, values, perception and even behavior is constantly shaped by “others”. I have seen this again and again- in SHGs, CommWS, NCs etc. etc.
How does “group” shape our feelings and help us come out of “dysfunctional” feelings and experiences? A group of psychologists has worked on “social therapy” as an alternative to mainstream clinical therapy. Here is how they explain it:
therapy is a particular kind of group therapy. People who are in
emotional pain, experiencing relationship or family issues, or just
feeling stuck in their lives join a community, in the form of a social
therapy group. The group — people of varied backgrounds, histories and
ages — shares responsibility for creating an environment in which
everyone can get help.
One of the powerful discoveries of social
therapy is that while we all experience pain as individuals, we get
better — we grow and develop emotionally — with others. While
traditional therapies (even group therapies) typically focus on the
individual (the “self”), social therapy focuses on the group, on being
with others — “in the world” — since, in fact, that is where we are.
If you are running a SHG, you may benefit by reading more about socila therapy on web, including this link: