I have not found that book learning and on-the-job-training gave me the tools I needed to understand and help people. Instead I have had to use experience, curiosity, and following my own spirit or moral compass. Now, I think this is largely because I didn’t understand the realities of black market America with compassion. Without understanding the rules, the pros the cons and the oppression that results from the crime industry it can be hard to provide the necessary empathy and validation to establish connection and be supportive. Because I didn’t get that training in school, I have had to undergo a journey to learn to be helpful.
I fervently believe that having survivor-led group therapy that redefines “psychosis” is missing in the system.
Over the last nine years, I’ve been leading what I call special message groups in multicultural settings. I have found that such groups can be run safely and have the power to transform lives. However, I do admit that when it comes to kicking people out of group to maintain group equilibrium and safety that I believe there are a few things to consider first.
Firstly, I believe that a group leader needs to be prepared for the fact that mad people show up in very different ways. Group facilitators need to be familiar with and recognize a wide variety of presentations or manifestations. Perhaps group members may feel like they are being mocked by others in the group via illusionary ideas of reference or even controlled by them. They may code up their language for protection. They may treat the facilitator as if the facilitator can hear the same voices they hear. They may not believe, in spite of stories shared, that the facilitator has experienced what they have.