Table of contents:
- The question that sometimes arises from our readers: is it better to go to a psychologist for individual meetings or in a group? What's the difference? There is no single answer: group work is no less valuable than individual work. It just has its own characteristics
- 1. Client therapy in a group
- 2. Group therapy for the client
- 3. Group therapy
- Pros of a group form of therapeutic work
- Restrictions for group psychotherapy
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The question that sometimes arises from our readers: is it better to go to a psychologist for individual meetings or in a group? What's the difference? There is no single answer: group work is no less valuable than individual work. It just has its own characteristics
Group therapy is an effective form of therapeutic intervention. It would be incorrect to ask the question whether the efficiency of individual or group work with a client is higher; each of these forms has its own advantages and limitations.
Moreover, they can be combined: in this case, the client undergoes both personal and group therapy in one period of his life. With one specialist or with different ones; both are valid.
The filling of therapeutic groups (number of participants) is usually rather low compared, for example, with training groups.
A small group can start with five members. There is no unambiguous rule about the maximum, there are different forms of conducting therapeutic groups. Nevertheless, if we are talking about deep psychological work, then this is usually 8-10 participants.
At the same time, on some thematic groups the occupancy of the group can reach 20-25 people.
Psychological work in a group takes different forms, moreover, they can be combined.
- Client therapy in a group.
- Group therapy for the client.
- Group therapy.
1. Client therapy in a group
The specialist works individually with one of the participants in the presence of the rest - conducts an individual session, a full hour or mini-session (less in time), in accordance with the need.
Sometimes in the center of the group, and this technique is called "work in the aquarium", because both the client and the specialist are in full view of everyone, like fish behind the glass of an aquarium.
Alternatively, the specialist can go to the place where the participant is located, and the interaction takes place there; or the client approaches the specialist and his place.
Any option has the right to be, a specialist can make a choice himself, based on his own considerations about the optimal form of work; or give a choice to the client.
In this case, the session turns out to be useful not only for the client with whom the work was carried out. Through the mechanism of resonance and identification, all participants receive a useful experience. Any therapy session is multifaceted, and each of the participants can find important facets for him, live his own emotions, make discoveries and conclusions.
2. Group therapy for the client
In this case, the therapeutic work is carried out with one of the participants, and other participants or even the group as a whole are involved in it. Other participants can give the client psychological and physical support, give meaningful messages, and give feedback.
It is important that the specialist does not let this process take its course, but at every moment understands what is happening and regulates the interaction between the participant and the group. Sometimes this is quite prescriptive and obvious regulation, sometimes not entirely explicit, but it is always present.
3. Group therapy
In this case, the group acts as a single object of therapeutic influence: there may be an informational part (for example, a story about the mechanisms of suppression of feelings), a group exercise, etc.
Pros of a group form of therapeutic work
1. Simultaneous therapeutic effect on several people. This saves a lot of time.
2. The group is a kind of model of the world, a model of society. The same processes take place in it as in the "big world", outside the room. Therefore, the group members can better understand the society, the rules of its functioning, the features of the processes, and their own emerging patterns. This is a kind of "rehearsal" in a safe environment: an opportunity to explore the world and yourself in it, try something new, rebuild your behavior model.
3. The group is also a wonderful "mirror". She vividly reacts to everything that happens and reflects what is happening to the participant. The mirror shows what is really going on. There are two types of group mirroring, and both types work simultaneously.
The first type of mirroring - repeats what happens to the participant himself. Makes it more obvious, legalizes it. For example, the participant is holding back tears, consciously or even unconsciously; and then some of the sensitive participants may cry.
The second type of mirroring is a response to the participant's processes, not copying them, but complementing them, like a puzzle. For example, a participant is charged with aggression and does not understand it himself, but others feel it, they may have fear and avoidance of interaction with this person; or retaliatory aggression and desire to engage in "fighting sparring". Legalization of what is happening helps the participant to realize his latent aggression and how it affects others.
4. Sometimes the group is more convincing than the specialist. If one psychotherapist tries to convey something to the client, he can go into defensive denial. But if 10 people say the same thing, then it's harder to go into denial and ignorance.
In addition, some clients may have a bias against the therapist's words: it is a defense mechanism based on negative projection. In this distorted perception, the therapist may appear as a demonized authoritarian figure, etc. At the stage of negative transference, the client may be very skeptical about any words of the specialist. But feedback from other members of the group can be accepted more openly and willingly.
5. Continuing the theme of the "statistical majority": there is a numerical advantage in the group, which sometimes allows them to accept at the level of common sense what they do not want to accept. For example, a participant does not want to realize his own aggressiveness, but if 10 group members indicate it in feedback, then he has something to think about.
Of course, the denial mechanism can be so strong that no number of people will be able to convince the participant or convey something to him. But then this mechanism of denial is legalized, becomes more explicit and obvious. And then it becomes clearer: we are talking about resistance or not at all about unpreparedness. Sometimes identifying defense mechanisms, resistance or unavailability is the most important and basic step.
6. The group presents a variety of types of people. Features of appearance and behavior are largely determined by projections. For example, mature participants are more likely to fall under the projections of "parental figures", while young ones become "younger siblings" or "kids." Fair-haired and light-eyed participants are more often idealized, while dark-haired and dark-eyed participants are demonized. This is a cleavage that is clearly shown in Disney fairy tales: Fairy Godmother is usually blonde, while Wicked Witch is brunette.
The variety of types makes it possible to identify a wide variety of projections. There are even special exercises aimed at the study of group projections and their removal and appropriation.
The fact that the groups are attended by a wide variety of participants also allows you to get rid of some stereotypes, prejudices ("All men", "All blondes", etc.). For example, I have witnessed more than once how prejudice against a particular nationality, a representative of which was present at the group, was revealed and disappeared.
7. The difference of opinions, views, life experiences among the participants is also important. Every life story and perception of the world is unique. Realization of this is useful, it allows you to better understand and accept your own individuality, as well as allow other people to be different from you and not expect a coincidence (such infantile expectations are often encountered).
The experience and judgment that participants share can be very helpful. It is not true that "you cannot learn from other people's mistakes": fortunately, a person is capable of this. And someone else's experience can be very useful.
8. The resonance effect that is present in the group enhances certain processes. Therefore, they become more obvious, visible, ready to go.
9. The group gives the development of empathy and altruistic behavior, cooperation skills. Selfish behavior, violating other people's boundaries, the group, like a mirror, immediately identifies and reacts accordingly - negatively, which is an unpleasant but useful feedback. Conversely, the group encourages forms of behavior that contribute to adaptation in society.
10. This is a good opportunity to explore the “I and people”, “I and the group” model. A variety of types of connections are formed in the group: contact-dyad (contact between two people, which is also in the individual therapeutic process); triad (formed triangles); "Me and small group", "me and large group" … This variety of connections is greater than in personal therapy based on the dyad. Accordingly, a scope for research opens up: understanding oneself, one's communication patterns, for testing new experiences.
11. And, of course, the so-called "group roles" are revealed in the group - what kind of scenario role, model of behavior manifests itself when interacting with the group. Scenario roles come from childhood, usually they are not realized, and a person sincerely does not understand why the same thing happens to him in different companies and situations. The therapeutic group allows you to identify these roles, realize, understand their mechanism - and change your scenario and behavior model.
12. The group also gives an opportunity to try new things right away, to diversify their behavioral patterns, to see how the world reacts to them. Trying new things in a safe environment in which the group both acts as a mirror and provides support is a very important experience.
13. There is not only the possibility of active action, but also passive observation. And this is also an important part of the experience. Just by observing, we also learn, draw conclusions, gain new experience.
14. The very fact of being in a group can be very valuable. The need to belong to a group is one of our needs, people are not alone. Perceiving yourself as part of a group gives you a sense of security, acceptance, reduces anxiety, and also helps to live and experience loneliness.
15. Of course, support is an important resource of the group. The importance of group support cannot be overemphasized.
16. There is a range of problems associated specifically with the relationship with the group. For example, a client may have suffered in the past precisely from a group - bullying, etc. And then therapy in a group may become more healing: the past negative experience is "covered" by a new positive experience of acceptance by the group as a trump card.
Restrictions for group psychotherapy
But of course, there are also limitations associated with group work - the other side of the coin, so to speak.
1. Group interaction has less intimacy than dyad. Therefore, self-disclosure may be slower and not as deep as in personal therapy.
2. The resonance effect in the group can not only work to move forward and increase work efficiency, but also increase resistance. And then, for example, he will support not the recovering part of the dependent / codependent, but the unhealthy part, which is in the defenses, denial of the disease.
3. Each member of the group is an important part of the group and influences other members and the group process. This influence can be both positive and negative: "All the bees flew in with honey, and only one, so small and harmful, with tar" (A. Knyshev). And then one participant, showing resistance, unwillingness, sabotage, can "slow down" the work of the whole group. In this case, work should be done with him, and as a reception it is possible to exclude a participant from the group.
4. Past negative experiences with a group can lead to avoidance of the group work format and high levels of resistance.
5. The direct attention of the leader and the time of the group are divided into a certain number of participants, and then each of them gets less than in individual therapy.
6. When several people are gathered in one space, the issue of maintaining the confidentiality of what is happening is more acute: the fear of disclosure outside the group is higher. Alas, life shows that this fear is justified. Here you can only return responsibility to the participants. And to explain: in reality, trust always includes an element of risk, and it is.