Group Therapy cont.

Irwin Yalom in his book, The Theory and Process of Group Psychotherapy discusses the benefits of group therapy. The following is a summarized list of  dynamics that can be found in therapeutic groups.

1.  Installation of hope. In a group setting, group members experience their peers changing; thus they are reinforced in their belief that they too, can change.

2.  Universality. Many people come to therapy believing they are alone and unique in having frightening or unacceptable thoughts, behaviors and feelings. Hearing other group members disclose similar problems to their own can help to disconfirm their feelings of isolation and uniqueness.
3.  Imparting of information. Therapists can provide information about mental health issues and both therapists and group members can share life experiences as well as suggestions. In addition, the information shared by group members conveys caring about one another.
4.  Altruism. People entering therapy are usually demoralized and feel they have nothing of value to offer others. Showing support, offering suggestions and caring for other members is a powerful self-esteem building experience.
5.  The corrective recapitulation of the primary family group. Whatever the deficiencies of a person's primary family, group therapy can provide a place to re-experience a family in a constructive way. Therapists and group members can take on parental and sibling roles and instead of dealing with these roles in old, rigid ways, members can explore new behaviors and ways of interacting with others.
6.  Development of socializing techniques. For most people, the group provides their first opportunity for accurate interpersonal feedback. Thus, they are able to get considerable information about maladaptive social behavior.
7.  Imitative behavior. Clients often model their behavior in the group on that of the therapist or other group members. In trying on bits and pieces of other people's behavior, one can see what fits best and discard what doesn't; it is a fundamental step in giving oneself permission to become "unfrozen", an attempt to change.
8.  Interpersonal learning. The group is a social microcosm for each group member; as each person is in their own interpersonal world, that is how they will be in the group. As most clients feel dissatisfaction with their relationships, the group provides an arena for a "corrective emotional experience". The client expresses some previously suppressed thoughts, feelings or behavior and he or she finds the consequences are not so disastrous as once imagined. The client becomes more aware of their interpersonal distortions, and as they gradually diminish, the ability to form more rewarding relationships is enhanced.
9.  Group cohesiveness. To the extent that a group is attractive to its members and provides them a source of strength and a safe haven from life's stresses, it is cohesive. Through affective sharing of one's inner world and then being accepted by others, a person can begin to question one's core beliefs such as they are unacceptable, repugnant, or unlovable.
10.  Catharsis. Group members are able to ventilate suppressed thoughts and feelings not only about past history, but towards present group members. This learning how to express feelings in the present moment is a powerful skill to master.
11.  Existential factors. Over time, clients in a group come to grips with five fundamental truths of existence:

a. Life is sometimes unfair and unjust.

b. There is ultimately no escape from some of life's pain or from death.

c. No matter how close I chose to get to others, I still face life alone.

d. Facing the basic issues of life and death, I can face life more honestly.

e. I must take ultimate responsibility for my life.




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