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.|
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.|
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
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.