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· Vulnerability - Willingness to show emotion or to allow one’s weaknesses to be seen or known; willingness to risk being emotionally hurt:

· Brene Brown defines vulnerability as "uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure."

Brief Opening Exercise – Feeling Vulnerable

Directions – Take a few minutes to imagine something that you feel vulnerable about. It could be something you feel insecure about, a secret, something embarrassing, a weakness, a perceived failure, something you are ashamed of, or anything at all that you feel vulnerable about. All that you need to do is think about it without sharing at this point. If you think of something that feels like too much for you to handle right now, pick another example that is less intense or painful.

Group opening discussion questions:

· Why should group therapy be a place where people can allow themselves to discuss what we may feel vulnerable about? (The same applies to individual therapy as well)

· What is required to explore vulnerability in a group setting?

· Discuss as a group: What specifically is needed for group therapy to be a safe space emotionally?

Exploring Vulnerability

Why allow ourselves to be vulnerable? When in a safe space, if we explore things that we feel vulnerable about we can open a symbolic “doorway” in our minds to growth and positive change. Part of learning and exploring who we are inside often requires allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable by letting our guard down and letting others see what is “behind the door”. This can be uncomfortable or even scary, but it can be liberating and empowering too.

Why do people feel vulnerable? – Discuss some common reasons and share how they may apply to you:

· Negative childhood experiences (being teased, bullied, shut down, ignored, etc.)

· Trauma

· Negative interactions with others (Betrayal, abuse, hurt, disappointment, lying, etc.)

· Insecurities

· Self-doubt

· Disabilities

· Societal factors such as discrimination, unfair treatment, injustice.

Benefits of allowing ourselves to be vulnerable:

· Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable opens the door to our inner selves – We find out who we really are, and what we are really about by opening up and allowing our inner selves to come out.

· We get stronger and more resilient– A person can be closed off and avoid vulnerability, but they will stay stagnant as vulnerability is often needed for growth. Think about how we need to let our guard down to let things in and out. A city that never opens its gates to let people in or out will not grow.

· Relationships need vulnerability – We get closer to people when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and they can get closer to us. Intimacy increases when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others. This applies in both romantic relationships, friendships and even working relationships. Trust needs to be there.

Closing Exercise- Exploring Vulnerability as a Group


1. People in a group are encouraged to step outside of their comfort zone and take risks for this exercise. Allow yourself to explore vulnerability. However, no one should feel forces to share something they are not ready too. It’s a process. Think things through before speaking. You have the option to choose to share based on your comfort level.

2. The group should focus on being nonjudgmental and supportive. People should feel safe taking risks as appropriate to explore vulnerability. Supportive comments and interchange are encouraged and with no teasing or minimizing the impact of other’s experiences. Empathy and support

3. What is said in group stays in group. This is essential for trust building and safety.

Directions: Take turns going around the room sharing some thoughts, feelings and experiences that you may feel vulnerable about. There are three columns to choose from. The first column are easier things to discuss, the middle moderate, and the right column are topics that are more challenging. There is no pressure, so choose based on your current level of trust and comfort. Everyone should have access to the list to choose their topics based on their comfort level.

Closing: Debriefing questions – Making sure everyone is ok before ending the group

1. How is everyone feeling?

2. Remember what is said in group stays in group and ends here unless brought up by the person who shared it in later therapy groups. Does everyone understand that?

3. What coping skills and supports do you have in case you experience challenging feelings?

4. What positive things did people experience from this exercise?


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