One step away from mental health care
Group psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy where, over time, the individual learns to listen to himself by how others in the group react to him and what is evoked during sessions between members including the group-led psychotherapist.
Enthusiastically, since 2015, a group of interested individuals embarked on a path of qualification in group policy psychotherapy in collaboration with the Institute of Group Analysis, London. Along the way of formation, the day of application of this form of psychotherapy in Albania was timidly projected. Thoughts such as "yes we are a small country, we all get to know each other in one way or another; confidentiality is endangered", "families are the only reliable groups of Albanians; things are talked only there and should not be go out of the house "etc., often confused our dilemmas. During these 6 years, the exhibition with group politics experiences inside and outside the country, opened another perspective on the feelings of 'shame' and 'guilt' towards the family, culture and history from which we came.
For 4 years, we have been caring for community groups which provide a psychotherapeutic space to talk and understand ourselves in the reality of the group, in the presence of strangers. The need to speak and be heard is great. Participation is still fragile, a reflection of the resistance to display emotional fragility in others. Those who regularly come to our groups feel “at home,” proudly sharing the comfort of speaking without censorship. Often, that is enough to understand the level of spiritual relief from the torturous deprivation carried over the years.
During the pandemic as well as the physical shock from the earthquakes, participation in community groups was high. The online version of these meetings was for everyone a new experience, but also comfortable and rewarding for the participants, who, at least, continued to be in contact with the group when everything else was interrupted. The post-traumatic pandemic seems to have frozen the need for help. Reducing restrictions has restored the hope of healing and the illusion of freedom. The world has changed. One chooses to stay with the sadness of what does not go back. It feels better there right now. Someone else not, because the resurgence force of early trauma has hit the capacity to act. It is not at all easy to accept the loss of the former routine, the loss of pleasure, the loss of loved ones, and above all the loss of control over personal freedom. Escape from yourself remains the single easiest way to dispel fear and pain. The groups are there to create escape opportunities for themselves within themselves under the professional care of the group leaders.
Grief for the past, and anxiety for the future affect everyone equally, including mental health professionals. Responsibility for the health of those who suffer every day is a priority at all times, but especially today, when exposure to personal trauma and “secondary trauma” from patient histories is high. It is the time when mental health services, now more than ever, demand the attention of professionals to personal care through professional supervision and not only. Recognizing the limitations of the ability to maintain and process the emotional load in the highest interest of the patient remains fundamental ethical and moral issues.
*Dr. Anxhela GramoChair, Group Analysis Albania