There are certain benefits to having groups with only girls as compared to having groups with both sexes. Often times teen girls will say something like, “Most of my friends are guys…I don’t like girls, they’re too annoying” or “I don’t like girls because of all of the drama.” Girls that come into therapy with these views have the opportunity to join an all-girls therapy group. They can learn how to form an appropriate friendship, or connection, that they have not truly experienced in a healthy way before. They are able to share past experiences that most girls aren’t comfortable with sharing with boys present such as past sexual encounters they are embarrassed about, history of being molested and/or raped, or other topics that aren’t as difficult, such as issues surrounding family, friends, and self-esteem. In addition, when teen boys and girls are in group together they want to attract attention to each other often distracting the group process.
Specifically relating to substance therapy group, girls are often placed in the same group with a boy they know, which most often has a negative context. For example, a girl who is in group with an ex-boyfriend, a boy who has talked about her negatively for various reasons to his/her peers, or perhaps a boy who tried to take advantage of her. At times, boys introduce drugs and/or alcohol to the girls they are in group with or have a history of using illegal substances together. Just recently, a teen in the current girls’ group stated how relieved she was to be switched to a unisex group because she knew two of the boys. She admitted she did not feel comfortable participating.
After the girls are in group for a few consistent weeks together an amazing process can occur where they can openly share negative past experiences, comfort, and support each other in a healthy and safe environment. They can learn what it means to have a true and positive, healthy relationship with other girls who have gone through similar life circumstances. And as a result, they develop strength and will-power to work on personal treatment goals.
—About the author: Beth Richards is a Care Coordinator/Life Skill Instructor who works with teens who are in substance abuse services at Aspire Indiana. Learn more about Aspire Indiana at http://www.aspireindiana.org/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AspireIndiana.