Is group therapy ever a good thing for AS?

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LittleBlackCat
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18 Sep 2011, 4:25 pm

I am currently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), major depressive episode and anxiety. As a result, I have been working towards getting into a group therapy programme which will be 3 days a week for 18 months. I am convinced, as is my GP, as is anyone who knows me who knows anything about BPD (apart from certain mental health professionals) that the BPD diagnosis is wrong. I also think I have a lot of AS traits, although am not currently diagnosed.

I have come across a number of articles online that say that group therapy is absolutely the worst thing you can do if you are on the spectrum. However, I have been working towards this for some time now and my GP also thinks that it would still be a good idea even though the original diagnosis it is designed to treat is wrong. I also rang the National Autistic Society for an information pack and they said group therapy can sometimes work.

My question is this:

Can group therapy ever be a good thing for AS? Particularly if you have co-morbid depression and anxiety issues? And, if so, under what circumstances?

I have asked for a meeting with my CPN and one of the therapists to discuss my concerns and try to iron out some of my issues prior to entering therapy and will probably need to make a decision in the next couple of months as to whether to go for it or not. Any input would be greatly appreciated as this is a big commitment and, therefore, a big decision for me.



League_Girl
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18 Sep 2011, 4:42 pm

I was in group therapy when I was 12 and loved it. We all talked about passive, aggressive, and assertive and we all do role play and we all earn chips for participating. Then we use them to trade them for prizes. The therapy was for kids with behavior problems I think or depression. Then I was in another group therapy and this time it was with a different teacher in a different office and less kids. They were all different kids except one boy and all of them didn't see too different. I remember I hated going there all because it was on Tuesday and we get stuck in traffic and it make me miss my favorite TV show or miss part of it or almost miss it so I always had anxiety on the way home. Also there were no prizes and we were given homework. I think if teachers make therapy fun for students, kids wouldn't mind going to them. Instead they would love it just like I loved the first group therapy.

I saw it as social skills training because it was encouraged for me to take those classes to improve them.



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18 Sep 2011, 5:39 pm

If you like being put on the spot to talk about all your private personal issues in front of a bunch of people you barely know, dive right in. We're so good at understanding what others want from us and not saying anything that would upset anybody, surely it would be a breeze. And there's absolutely no chance of being ganged up on, bullied, judged or humiliated. :?

I guess there are those who might find it productive, but my experiences with groups of any kind have never been positive. Just one more place for me to end up feeling left out or looked down on.



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18 Sep 2011, 5:48 pm

I've not personally participated in group therapy, but I've heard of it working successfully when it was built to take ASDs into account. Support groups for AS are something I've had success with.



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18 Sep 2011, 5:59 pm

My group therapy was a waste of time for me, there isn't enough time to address your specific problems in a group setting and it's much harder to get right down to the root. I found individual one on one therapy more productive. Group therapy inevitably means one size fits all because there arn't enough resources for everyones needs to be met.

BUT if your main issue is simply interacting with people then it could be good for you, it didn't work for me because that wasn't really my issue. My problems were more to do with depression and anxiety, learning new social skills wasn't a priority.


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qwertywop
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18 Sep 2011, 10:58 pm

really group anything is good for aspies just so they can practice their social skills in an accepting environment



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18 Sep 2011, 11:03 pm

A major downside of group therapy is several people misunderstanding you instead of one person (your therapist) misunderstanding you.

And talking in group therapy is just like small-talking in social groups. It is impossible to know when to talk, when not to talk, what to say to others, and what not to say to others.



KathySilverstein
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19 Sep 2011, 1:39 am

Well, I suppose it would depend on the group...how it was structured....who was in it...etc.
On the one hand it could be nice to meet others with similar issues as you to talk to them and get support.
On the other hand if it's not structured right participating could be difficult.
I'd personally try it, but that's just me.


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19 Sep 2011, 2:26 am

If your prone to being bullied I would say 'no'

You can always start and leave if you dont like it....



Christopherwillson
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19 Sep 2011, 2:47 pm

I got the chance to do it more then once but never did it :P it feels too unnatural and forced for me.


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Callista
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19 Sep 2011, 3:11 pm

Groups for AS can be quite helpful. If you get together with other Aspies, swap tips and ideas, talk about your experiences, and give and receive advice, you can really benefit. In my experience, the more of the spectrum you can get in there--from highly independent professionals to non-verbal peopel and their families--the more you can help each other, provided you are willing to remember that the spectrum is very diverse.

However, there are some groups that can be pretty useless. If you sit around bemoaning your autism and trying to copy NT, it's not going to help much.

I had the borderline diagnosis myself, and it was wrong. In women, autism can be mistaken for BPD (and vice versa), and of course I didn't benefit from a Borderline group except to learn that people with BPD are not the manipulative b*tches people think they are--they are more like just trying to figure out who they are, and clinging to others because that's the only way they know to stop their emotions from going all out of whack. Not that a Borderline person can't be outright evil; but BPD doesn't make them that way--clingy and possibly annoying, yeah, but not outright evil. It's a choice, same as it is for anyone.

Signs of a good ASD support group:
--It is partly or completely run by people with ASD; if it is not run by someone with ASD, then people with ASD have a high level of influence.
--It does not push people to act "appropriately" or "normally" beyond being respectful and learning to understand and be understood by others.
--People in the group are allowed to be themselves while they are there.
--Dissenting opinions are allowed and perhaps even encouraged.
--The positive aspects of life with autism are discussed, but the negative aspects are not denied.
--People in the group, whether ASD or not, tend to give each other advice, rather than having the moderator doing all the direction.
--If the group contains lots of parents of ASD kids, they focus mostly on getting their children the help they need, rather than on modifying their children's behavior. (A good sign that they are focused on helping rather than modifying their kids: They give each other advice on how to work the local school system.)
--Atypical styles of communication are allowed and accommodated for.


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19 Sep 2011, 7:23 pm

Quote:
Can group therapy ever be a good thing for AS? Particularly if you have co-morbid depression and anxiety issues? And, if so, under what circumstances?


I read somewhere that group therapy really only works if the group members are quite similar. So probably a group consisting of autistics with similar comorbids would work.

I had group therapy around 12 or so, which was an utter failure. I had no clue what I was supposed to do, so I just faded into the background. Apparently the other kids were dealing with domestic violence/divorce issues (whereas I was sexually abused by foster siblings) and I'm pretty certain none of them were autistic. Plus this was at an age where I was getting bullied a lot, so I was terrified of the other kids even though none of them actually paid me any attention.



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19 Sep 2011, 7:43 pm

I hated it, but I only did it with NT's. I think group therapy with just other Aspies (and an NT leader) would work well.



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19 Sep 2011, 9:20 pm

I went to an ADHD support group at one point. I found it to be an interesting experience, but not terribly helpful. I liked listening to some of the discussions. However, I often felt like I was on a different page than everyone else and didn't get that sense of "camaraderie" that many of them spoke about.

Overall, I found that they were more socially adept than I was and people were already pairing off/grouping up within the first two weeks. I did feel left out at some points. That said, I do wonder if things would have been better off in an Asperger's or social skills group, particularly since the social problems were the main reason that I joined in the first place.

Maybe if you find a really good group, then you'd see some results from group therapy.


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CantExplain
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02 Dec 2011, 3:40 pm

LittleBlackCat wrote:
Can group therapy ever be a good thing for AS? Particularly if you have co-morbid depression and anxiety issues? And, if so, under what circumstances?


I'm a fairly high functioning Aspie, and I've done group therapy with NTs. I learned some useful stuff, like looking people in the eye and taking turns. After fours years I felt a real connection, and even got to the point where I could see "the group" as a entity and not just a random collection of people. I was devastated when the group ended. It was family in a way that my birth family never was.

I'm now in another NT group, and I currently feel very alienated. I had hoped that I could recapture the feeling of the old group but it hasn't happened.

Last session I tried to tell them about feeling alientated but I don't think they really understood. I think the facilitator knows I am Aspergic and is trying to help me, but it goes like this:

Facilitator: Blah blah blah
Me: I know you're trying to tell me something important, but I just don't understand.
Faciltator: Yes, I know you will have great difficulting understanding that.

Time to spell out to the group that I am Aspergic and to discuss what effect that has.

I must be careful not to plan too far ahead.