What is, Why and How To Provide Bridging Group Therapy

Helping your client connect their practice of cognitive skills to everyday life is a necessary part of the therapeutic process. This connection of practiced cognitive skills and application to a real-world situation is called bridging. Bridging is commonly done in groups called bridging groups, where 6-8 clients work with a therapist leading the group on how to apply a particular cognitive skill. In this blog post, we will go over what are bridging groups, why you should provide them, and how you should provide them.

What Are Bridging Groups?

Bridging groups are groups of 6-8 clients led by one therapist that focus on the application of practiced cognitive skills to everyday situations. During bridging groups, a therapist will guide clients through a discussion focusing on a particular cognitive skill that all group members are working on. The therapist will then go over areas of life that require the implementation of this practice cognitive skill. Group members will share their successes and challenges in building and applying this cognitive skill, and the therapist will guide the group members through ways the building blocks and application of this cognitive skill can be improved. Next, the therapist will provide a hands-on activity that requires the group members to use this cognitive skill. After the activity, the therapist will again discuss with the group on what worked and did not work during the hands-on activity. Group members will be able to reflect upon how they applied this cognitive skill and where improvements can be made and the therapist will use the insight gained from the bridging group to tailor each client’s individual therapy to focus on problem areas and maintain strong ones.

Why Should I Provide My Clients With Bridging Groups?

It is one thing to practice a skill, but it is another to apply it with a successful outcome. Bridging groups help foster learning and generalization, which will allow your client to understand how to apply and modify this cognitive skill to different situations that have overlapping demands. If a client masters the application of a cognitive skill to one situation but not another, the therapist can then learn that their client may have mastered the skill but is struggling with the generalization process. Bridging groups allow both the therapist and client to learn areas of strength and weakness the client is having. This will help the therapist tailor individual therapy sessions to improve functional outcomes. Additionally, bridging groups allow clients to share common struggles and successes with their therapy and can inspire group members to try new strategies to solve problems in their lives. The sharing of ideas among group members also helps each client’s learning process as group members may come up with creative solutions to everyday problems together. 

How Should I Provide a Bridging Group?

Commonly, bridging groups are done in person with 6-8 people and a therapist who leads the group. However, you can do bridging groups remotely if need be. 

For in person bridging groups, make sure you have a space that comfortably fits everyone in attendance, needed activity supplies, and a whiteboard. Conference rooms are an ideal place to meet as they provide seating, a table, and a necessary meeting space. Supplies for hands-on activities will vary depending on what the focus of the group is. It is useful to have a supply closet or storage where you can easily access needed supplies for your group. 

Pro tip: If it is a nice day, take your bridging group outside to a safe space where you can meet privately and enjoy some fresh air.

For telehealth bridging groups, make sure your clients all have internet access, a device with a webcam, and are in a space where they can participate without interruption. You’ll want to use a HIPAA compliant video conferencing software and mail your client’s activity supplies. While the physical presence of each group member and the therapist may be absent, it is possible to provide bridging groups using telehealth and with some creativity.

Pro tip: Make use of videos, blog articles, and other forms of digital media to provide stimulating activities for your clients.

Conclusion 

Bridging groups are used to connect practiced cognitive skills to real life situations. In these groups, members discuss a cognitive skill and how they would use it to solve a problem in their lives. A therapist will lead the group in discussion and have members perform a hands-on activity. Bridging groups provide insight into the therapeutic process and help both the therapist and client identify areas of strength and weakness. These groups are commonly done in person, but can be modified to be done using telehealth with some creativity. Bridging is a necessary part of the therapeutic process that helps clients learn and generalize cognitive skills to everyday life.

Dustin Luchmee
Dustin Luchmee

Dustin is HappyNeuron Pro's Product Specialist. With research experience in stroke, Dustin learned how a stroke can change someone's life. He also learned how different kinds of therapists can work together to help a person get better. He is passionate about neuro-rehabilitation and finding the active ingredients for effective therapy.

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