Welcome: Motherhood Village
As a therapist who primarily worked individually with women, I never expected to enjoy facilitating groups as much as I do.
We started meeting last September, on the day that Maternal Wellness Center opened. I was dead tired from the open, and it was bad planning on my part to have a group run that same night. What happened next, and in the 10 months that followed, became my education about therapy groups for women --my patients became my teachers about the power of a group for change and growth in women.
It was a closed, confidential, weekly, therapeutic group that was called “Circle of Support for Moms”, and the purpose was to tackle issues and challenges in motherhood, including stress and mood struggles. Four eager moms showed up the first night, and what unfolded was a beautiful experiment in vulnerability, trust, and healing. They had war stories to share, and they were hungry to know that they weren’t the only one with struggles. What came next was my education in the power of healing in group dynamics, and the beauty of growth born out of vulnerability. The lessons from my group were the following:
Women are abundantly generous to each other when safety is established. They want the best for each other. They are complimentary, encouraging, and supportive. They very much want everyone to feel okay about themselves and be assured of their place in the group. “Good enough” mothering happens with each other. They want to create for others what they want to feel themselves.
We can observe in real-time the disconnect between their expectations for themselves, and what they imagine to be okay for other women. There was tremendous power in hearing how their self-talk sounds out loud, and realizing that they would never speak that way to another woman in the group.
Women can get very close, very quickly, in a safe and honest setting. It’s like dorm-life for moms—one moment you meet, and the next you’re cutting each other’s hair in the communal bathroom. These women were looking for their sorority sister of motherhood--someone who they could call in a pinch.
Women are so eager to know that their experience is normal. Is this true for you? Do you ever feel this? A group provides a safe space to check if you’re “okay” while at the same time learning to know that for yourself. The delicate balance of group therapy is to hear others while also learning what’s true for you.
Women need to practice asking for what they need. I would end the group time by asking “what do you need from the group?” and each woman would spell out what they were looking for. Support? Encouragement? Just to vent? It was an exercise in taking an inventory of their needs and speaking them out-loud. It feels vulnerable at first to say exactly what you need, especially for women, who are so often taught to set aside their own needs. The group provides an empowering space to practice this life skill.
Women need space to express their feelings, and be witnessed in them. There is incredible healing power in this. As a therapist I was surprised by how often I could sit back and observe the magic unfold. While I offered my insights and kept things on course, so much of the work was led by the women themselves. There is a wealth of common wisdom, generosity, and care in a group of women, and the supportive setting brings all of that out. I will always think back fondly on that group and feel humbled that I could take part in it. I take joy in knowing the friendships that grew out of it are still thriving.
Our new peer-lead, MotherWoman group was developed to provide more women the healing power of a group. We believe this FREE weekly group will be an essential component of our center's programming. If you would like to support the fundraising efforts of our partner in this endeavor, Motherhood Village, by purchasing a T-shirt HERE, and wearing it proudly + locally. Also, check out the amazing artistry of Rob Lugo HERE. A purchase of his work will support the group.
Kellie Wicklund, LPC
Owner + Clinical Director, Maternal Wellness Center LLC