The Power of Connection and Community
Caitlin Rice, MSS, LCSW has years of experience supporting families coping with stress and chronic illness and working with parents of children with special needs. She has facilitated groups for individuals in these trying situations and has seen their immense healing power. Read on to learn more about the power of connection and community.
In today’s world, we are often distracted, busy, and disconnected from ourselves and those we love. With the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, we are all asking difficult questions about why so many people are feeling hopeless and alone. What are we really longing for? What do we need?
Connecting with “Strangers”
Last week I had the pleasure of seeing the Tony Award-winning Broadway show “The Band’s Visit.” The show’s message about the power of human connection struck me. In the story, strangers from different places come together and open up to one another in unexpected ways. In a creative way, playwright Itamar Moses shows us that, “strangers help us to recognize ourselves.” It catches us off guard to see how much we share with strangers in terms of joy and suffering.
“The show doesn’t go where you expect it to. There is no easy resolution, just an acknowledgement that whatever people think they may want, what they need is connection.” -Columnist, Jennifer Vanasco
When you first meet a therapist and take steps to get help, you and the therapist are strangers, but this is not a problem—it’s an opportunity. As humans we have an amazing capacity to care and to connect with one another through each other’s stories, pain, and joy.
An Empowering Space to Share Experiences
If you are seeking help through individual, couples, or family therapy, it can be intimidating. However, connecting with and being gentle and compassionate with yourself can change your life. This new perspective can empower positive change in your life and help you find empathy for those closest to you.
In my experience, co-facilitating groups for transgender youth, parents of children with special needs and medically complex diagnoses, and an online group for young adults with muscular dystrophy, I’ve learned how much power there can be in community. If a doctor, therapist or social worker refers you to a therapeutic group, you may find that sharing a safe space with others facing similar challenges can be empowering. It can offer you an opportunity to build relationships, share your story, and genuinely connect with others.
Taking the First Step
Some people struggle emotionally and are hesitant to try therapy. My advice to them is that they don’t have to take three or four steps, just one. Being open to making the call to get help from a therapist or attending a group to which you are referred can result in relationships, connectedness, community, and healing that you may be missing and wanting in your life.
As the characters demonstrated in “The Band’s Visit,” sometimes it can be easier to feel empathy and understanding for strangers than it can for those closest to us. It can be difficult to truly understand your partner, child, family members, or self. Therapy can be a resource to start to slow down and create space for understanding toward ourselves and one another.
It’s all about the first step towards connection. Therapists and even strangers gathering for a shared purpose can meet you where you are right now. Think about what it could look and feel like to not be isolated and alone. Get dressed, open up, make the call, log into the group, make the appointment, step outside. You don’t have to take a few steps, only one. What lies ahead can be a fresh new place that you may never have experienced before. Take the chance and connect.