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Group Analytic Psychotherapy

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Group analysis is a form of psychotherapy in small groups and also a method for studying groups and the behavior of human individuals in their social aspects. Apart from a number of practical advantages, it has features of specific value. It is the method of choice for the investigation of many problems and for the treatment of many disturbances.This volume puts the method into the centre, emphasizes the special features of the "group analytic situation" and the role of the conductor, or leader, in creating this situation. It tries to show what the conductor has to do in order to make all the members of his group active participants in the solution of their problems. In doing so, it shows how not only the group itself benefits, but also how every single individual can best develop his own personality. However, while this individual focus is important, the group is the ultimate aim of this therapy.

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1 - What is Group-Analytic Psychotherapy?

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CHAPTER 1

What Is Group-Analytic Psychotherapy ?

Group-analytic psychotherapy is a method of group psychotherapy initiated by myself from 1940 onwards in private psychiatric practice and out-patient clinics. It grew out of and is inspired by my experiences as a psychoanalyst, but it is not a psychoanalysis of individuals in a group. Nor is it the psychological treatment of a group by a psychoanalyst. It is a form of psychotherapy by the group, of the group, including its conductor. Hence the name: group-analytic psychotherapy.

The therapist-analyst helps in this process and puts his expert knowledge and his education as a person at the service of the group. He is the responsible administrator, a task he should fulfil in a flexible, dynamic, creative way; his personality and method are the most important individual factors in this procedure. Yet he leads the group only exceptionally and has therefore been called the conductor, the guardian and guide, of the group-analytic group.

 

2 - The Life Group

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CHAPTER 2

The Treatment of the Life Group

NETWORK, PLEXUS

We are here concerned with problems as they arise in an interconnected, existing network in life. By contrast with the previous chapter, these people are very closely and intimately connected and their interactional network concerns the central area of their lives.

The family itself is the prototype of such a group, but I have stressed from the beginning that in psychological terms such a network includes persons who are not in the ordinary sense of the term family members.

Originally I used the term network and also nexus. Both these terms have since been used widely and with different meanings, so that I propose to use a special name for this concept of the intimate dynamic network with which we are concerned, and to call it complexus or for short plexus. (What is meant by that is that a relatively small number of people, who include the family, group themselves dynamically as the process of treatment proceeds, group themselves round the central person — the patient — especially in connection with his conflicts which are significant for the disturbance for which he has come to consult us.)

 

3 - Diagnostics

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CHAPTER 3

Diagnostics

THE FORMATION OF GROUPS FOR THE SPECIFIC PURPOSE OF TREATMENT

When forming a group specifically for treatment, patients who have no connection in life with each other are called together. Neither should they develop such contacts during treatment, or, for that matter, later. In these groups we are thus operating outside the life situation, with people who are strangers and share only the therapeutic situation. As our model we take the group-analytic group in its various forms.

The patient either comes on his own initiative or is referred to us by another doctor, often a psychiatrist. We meet him first either individually or in a group. Presently we shall deal in more detail with both methods of the initial interview.

Preliminary Information

Before we see the patient, we can elucidate a number of facts by questionnaires. This saves time and allows us to concentrate on the most important living features and impressions during the first interview.

 

4 - Therapeutics

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CHAPTER 4

Therapeutics

INDICATION, COUNTERINDICATION AND SELECTION FOR PARTICULAR GROUPS

Having followed the preparatory steps which the therapist-conductor has to take with prospective patients, we now follow him in the process of the actual selection and formation of a group-analytic group.

In the first place, quite generally speaking, it would be true to say that group psychotherapy is indicated whenever psychotherapy is indicated. Its range is even broader and participation in groups, whether in the form of activity groups or other forms (encounter groups for instance) may be helpful to anyone. However, we should not underrate the danger of exposing people to such encounters when they could be too sick and the experience might cause mental breakdown.

For our purposes, we are concerned only with a very intensive form of group psychotherapy. In this case, of course, we recommend it only to people who are in need of such intensive treatment, which will usually be relatively prolonged.

 

5 - The Group-Analytic Situation

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CHAPTER 5

The Group-Analytic Situation

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

The group-analytic situation will be discussed under the following three headings:

1) Conditions Set These are as the patient finds them. He has no influence upon them and is not consulted. He should have been prepared or at least have been informed about them before joining the group.

Meeting with strangers

Particular form of group

Room and seating arrangements

Circle

Position

Numbers of group members

Duration and frequency of sessions

2) Principles of Conduct Required This refers to the behaviour which is expected of the patient.

Regularity

Punctuality

Discretion

Abstinence

No outside contact

No “life” decisions during treatment.

3) Culture Promoted This covers the total atmosphere prevailing, the mores and behaviour, as introduced and maintained in operation by the conductor.

 

6 - The Conductor in Action

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CHAPTER 6

The Conductor in Action

PART I

FUNCTIONS AS ADMINISTRATOR

If the conductor is the same person who has taken the preparatory steps we have described then this was of course part of his function. Under other circumstances, the preliminary steps may be the function of a different doctor, perhaps the consultant, and the conductor takes the group over himself only when it first assembles. When the introductory functions are performed by the consultant, it is desirable that the conductor has met the group together with the consultant at the introductory session.

First a few simple but important points which the conductor must observe.

1) Expecting punctuality and regularity, he must himself adhere to these principles very strictly. He should not be early either as inevitably his entrance marks the beginning of the group session. Nor should he prolong the treatment time although he need not be over-rigid in this respect. He can well give himself and the group a minute or so of flexibility at the end of the session.

 

7 - The Conductor as a Person and his Training

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CHAPTER 7

The Conductor As A Person And His Training

We will consider here the personal qualities, desirable and undesirable, of a future group analyst.

His personality is indeed important, as the whole style in which he conducts his groups depends upon this. I would give a very high priority to the trainee's ethical integrity. The group analyst has a very high degree of responsibility to those who entrust themselves to his Care. This transcends what one would call the medical responsibility, as we shall presently see.

His interest in his subject must be genuine. He must not be overweighted with motives such as “helping other people” because this is too often based on deep-seated individual motivations and even unresolved conflicts. This is not desirable. His interest should be of a more detached, sublimated kind, similar to that of a scientist or artist. A psychological bent of mind and gift is essential, whether inborn or acquired early is insignificant; probably it is both as usual.

 

8 - On Teaching Psychotherapy

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CHAPTER 8

On Teaching Psychotherapy

A. TEACHING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY

These are related processes; better perhaps to say they are overlapping and have their fundamental mechanisms in common. Simple facts or skills may be taught by a teacher to a pupil in more-or-less didactic form and by example. Even in this case, as we know, the personal relationship which forms between pupil and teacher is of paramount importance. As soon as we are concerned with teaching or learning quite new perspectives, the situation becomes different because to learn quite new facts or aspects in regard to any subject we have to change our attitude beyond the facts under consideration themselves. We are then, as Mrs. Abercrombie has so convincingly demonstrated, up against old notions and attitudes. The teaching/learning process is one and the same. The teacher must in turn be a good learner in understanding the pupils' difficulties. Vice versa we understand from this point of view that undergoing psychotherapy of a more intensive kind, especially of course of an analytic type, can be also described as a learning process, even more as an unlearning process. This in more conventional analytic language would correspond to the analytic resolution of defences and resistances, and in structural language it would be the modification by analysis of unconscious ego and super-ego functions. Both psychotherapy and teaching are therefore ultimately concerned with the question of change of attitude in the whole person.

 

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