The self-awareness encounter group refers to regular meetings of a group of people, i.e. group sessions, with the presence of a specialist facilitator to increase self-awareness, social sensitivity and bring about change in unwanted behaviours through interpersonal confrontation, self-disclosure and intense emotional expression. This also has the secondary benefit of improving communication skills and social confidence.

At the centre, GIA TIN ITHAKI, we follow Carl Roger’s person-centred philosophy in self-awareness groups. The coordinator encourages participants to focus on “the here and now”, i.e. on how they experience the interactions within the group at a given moment and on how they process emotions that have been evoked during the group session.

The role of the person-centred coordinator within the group is to create an atmosphere of acceptance and empathy, in which the members of the group are assisted and encouraged to discover their personal inner powers, to grow, and to evolve spiritually; as well as to be guided to self-actualization.

Personal testimonies of people who participated in encounter groups at our centre:

“I had the pleasure to participate in self-awareness groups at the centre ‘Gia Tin Ithaki’, for two consecutive years. I can’t describe the joy I felt when the scheduled group meeting day arrived. You can’t believe the revelation during the one and a half hour of such a meeting! You never know what will come out of those moments or the conclusions that will be reached during the sessions. What I know for sure is that this experience is rewarding and unforgettable. I personally didn’t miss a single meeting.”

“I usually leave excited from these group meetings, because of both what I heard but also what I myself revealed in the group, especially because I didn’t expect to be able to share it. I feel the members of the group like a warm and understanding family connected together with the aid of our valuable facilitator. Every single time, I look forward to listen to everyone with great interest and also express myself to them. I feel like I have people who are by my side that both understand and show empathy.”

“Although I am an introverted person who safeguards his personal feelings, I have found that the self-awareness group provides a sense of great relief and security. It makes me want to magically open up and to listen to the other members of the group who share their own hopes and concerns.”

 

The fan-souvenir, at the closure of a self-awareness encounter group at our centre.

At the centre GIA TIN ITHAKI we also offer support groups for people with eating disorders.

What is a support group?

A support group is essentially a meeting of people on a regular basis and for a specific period of time with the ultimate aim of providing and receiving support for the difficulties they face. In support groups for eating disorders, the participants, with the help of their group’s facilitator – a therapist specialising in eating disorders -, help each other through active listening, empathy, support and feedback on issues related to eating disorders. Group members also receive, with the help of the facilitator, proper education and psychological training on eating disorders; they explore their emotions, thoughts and perceptions of their body and self-image; and process their eating habits, relationship with food and (more generally) relationship with oneself and with others, in a safe and friendly environment. The Eating Disorder Support Group works in a complementary way and can be highly effective in helping people with eating disorders that are already receiving individual therapy.

Personal experience of individuals that have participated in such a group

“The meetings with the group were a great experience for me. I experienced feelings of joy, anguish, I often identified with the other girls and felt I was not alone. I also saw in other members of the group the same disappointment about what is happening to us. But through this experience my motivation has increased, I have been able to see things more clearly and was convinced that at some point I will finally find my real self and I will be able to give my life the meaning and the value it deserves.”

“I feel the group members as companions who observe my every move of progress, give me valuable advice, unlimited support and special help, urge me to always continue, despite the difficulties or disappointments I feel. Many times I feel that the group sessions are revealing in a way that enhances the healing process for all members. I also feel a great sense of belonging, that someone really listens to me with compassion and understands me in a confidential, private and warm environment and this helps me to discover things about myself that may be forgotten or unknown.”

“It’s staggering how strong, both emotionally and mentally, I left at the end of each group session, ready to endure the daily trials and temptations. I feel proud that I can have this unconditional love and assistance through a discreet group of people facing similar difficulties with my own, because such an experience helps you get back on your feet, to take your life in your hands and finally smile!”