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“These are difficult times.” One member noted during my mid-November stress management group. “Everyone is angry. People who used to be friends are not speaking. It’s giving me stomach aches.”

“I know!” Her couch mate said with sadness in her voice. “There are too many changes. I’m having migraines.”

Group members discussed their usual stressors—interpersonal conflicts, worries about children and grandchildren, work stress, a few health concerns—but on that fall morning I sensed a difference in their presence and in each person’s felt sense of his/her stress.

“Maybe it would help to talk about it,” said a group member settled in the rocking chair. “In times like these we all need support.”

Therapeutic Encounters

There are situations and events in the here and now that trigger past memories and our past responses. These memories can be conscious or unconscious. Regardless, people periodically brace (as defined as their muscles tighten) in response to these memories. Or they have enacted this brace reaction for so long, it’s now part of an unconscious habitual lifestyle.

Therapeutic Encounters

As a group therapist I witness member-to-member and member-to-leader interactions promote not only group cohesion but also psychosocial/emotional growth. By explaining how authentic face-to-face social interactions strengthen the functioning of the vagus system, improves social experience and tamps down sympathetic tone, the Polyvagal theory offers a glimpse into the somatic healing power of group dynamics.

Reviews

With increased efforts to reduce stigma and approach mental health care from a more personalized perspective, Same Time Next Week comes at a critical moment in the transformation of psychotherapeutic practices from the clinical to a more humanized model. Offering an intimate look into a world that, until recently, has remained largely hidden behind closed doors and hushed tones, the eighteen stories comprising this anthology are deeply personal, rich and thorough in their narrative structures without the sterile feel of the traditional case study. In their exploration of a wide variety of mental illnesses including (but not limited to) depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, schizophrenia, and eating disorders, these stories are distinct in that many are written by mental health professionals who have, themselves, experienced mental illness and therefore have first-hand knowledge of the trials and tribulations of recovery.