How to Host a Therapy Party
A New Party Trend
Why host a pity party when you can work through some major issues with the help of a trained professional - AND drink and chat with friends? The new trend in parties, therapy parties are starting to catch on, and with good reason.
Therapy parties are much like any sort of fun night in with cheese and wine (or perhaps something stronger) in the company of some close buddies: people unwind, whine, and dish. The twist? There is a professional therapist sitting in and providing insights to help you and your friends not only vent, but also get over your mental roadblocks.
How do you host a therapy party? It's quite simple, really- that is, once you convince your friends to go along with it. I'll guide you through the basic details below.
Planning the Party
The first thing you'll need to do when planning a therapy party is to decide who you want to invite. Chances are that not ALL of your friends would be comfortable with the prospect of sharing their inner mental struggles in a social setting. What's more, not all of your friends might know each other well enough or be comfortable enough with each other to be able to speak so openly in a group.
The best kind of people to invite to a therapy party are a closely-knit group of friends that you regularly see and have known for a long time. These people know you; know your habits and weaknesses and strengths- and that's a good thing. One of the major benefits of throwing a therapy party is that friends often know each other better than they know themselves, and can work synergistically with the therapist to help you realize and step beyond your internal struggles.
Once you have established a guest list, you will need to consider the therapist you invite to moderate the party. Ideally, the therapist you ultimately hire for your party will be familiar with the therapy party format. If there is not a therapist or psychiatrist in your area that has done therapy parties before, you might also check with professional group therapists. When approaching them regarding your party, be sure to explain your approach and goals.
Once you have invitees and a therapist set, planning a therapy party is very similar to planning all other sorts of gatherings of friends- you simply need to set a time and date, establish a location (your house or apartment is best- everyone is familiar with your place and will probably feel more comfortable discussing personal matters there), and get food and drinks lined up.
Making Sure the Therapy Party Runs Smoothly
Therapy parties may sound strange to some, especially those who are dubious about therapists or sharing personal information, but when you think about it, the typical party at which only close friends are present can turn into something of a therapy session on its own. The only difference here is that there is a professional present to moderate the conversation and provide insights.
At the beginning of a therapy party, the therapist present typically sets some ground rules. One of the most important rules of thumb is that you should not talk about anything that would make you extremely uncomfortable- or make others in the room feel so (so if you've got some major, serious issues, save them for a more private setting).
To ensure that everybody has a chance to share their stories and get encouraging advice from the therapist and the group, therapy parties typically start with one person sharing their problems and then move on to some discussion, after which it is time for the next person to go. The therapist typically keeps on track of timing to make sure that everyone has a turn.
As host, you should probably do the honors of going first - this helps to set an example and break the ice (and seeing as you are the one who organized the whole event, you are probably more comfortable with the therapy party concept than any of your friends, so you might as well show them how it's done).
Perhaps you have been to a pity party before (or have hosted your own), or have spent an evening listening to a friend go on about her lack of confidence or irrational fears or stresses. It is common for friends to whine and vent together, so it is only natural to try to console one another. Alas, we are not all experts in the field of psychology, so we are often at a loss for just the right words of encouragement to help our loved ones make their way past fears, stresses, and confidence issues.
This is why therapy parties are so great - they allow you to combine the strong bonds of love and understanding that one sees with friendship with the framework, vocabulary, and understanding that comes with working with a trained psychotherapist.
After a therapy party, you and your friends should be able to come away with a deeper understanding of what has been driving your lives, as well as some new heuristics to help you deal with your internal demons.
Therapy parties should not be seen as a means of treating severe depression or other serious psychological issues, however.
In the end, therapy parties are nothing more than a fun way to drive a bit of extra function into a typical, informal get-together- as well as a bit of fun. Therapy parties might seem like a strange concept at first, but they're certainly not the strangest party premise to walk the earth. Tupperware, anyone?