Group Counselling/Psychotherapy

What is Group Counselling/Psychotherapy?

«Psychotherapy is not a substitute for life, but a life rehearsal »
I.Yalom
The group therapy is a form of therapy in which a small number of people (6-12 people) meet at regular intervals under the facilitation of one or two therapists who are specially trained to provide a secure framework/environment in which the members of the group, with respect and mutual acceptance, are going to help themselves and each other.

Which are the stages of development of the Group?

«…we are not merely social animals who enjoy being among our people, but we have the innate propensity to seek the attention of other members of our species and indeed their favorable attention»
W. James
The group once created does not remain static but travels following a dynamic process through various evolutionary stages of ripening.

The "construction" of the group, i.e. the transformation of a set of individuals into a group, occurs when, through shared emotional experiences, interactions and relationships begin to develop. Then the group acquires substance and its members feel that they belong to a "shared space" and that they share a "common emotional" life *.

* The emotional life of the group is different from the sum of the personal feelings of its members, just as a melody is more than the notes that compose it.

Read more about the stages of group development (here)

«… the evolution of the innermost self is not achieved as most people think today "-here I would add the word “only”-“with the person's relationship with himself but with the relationship of one to the other» M. Buber

Why should I start Group Psychotherapy?

The group is itself a major source of hope, meaning and support when a person is experiencing critical or transitional periods in his life and is facing emotional dead ends. Other important factors that drive a person to begin group psychotherapy are the desire to:

  1. Develop valuable interpersonal skills.
  2. Cultivate the ability to observe oneself and others and to learn to relate in the "here and now"
  3. He becomes aware of his responsibility in matters that concern him (i.e. that he contributes to his loneliness), through the feedback from the other group members.
  4. Receive support, encouragement and acceptance by the group particularly in times of crisis.
  5. Test/experiment with new behaviors and what impact these have on others.
  6. Learn how to refine and redefine the way he relates, beginning with his relationship with group members.
  7. Understand that other people may experience the same difficult situations and not feel alone in the journey of life.

The Therapeutic group is a) a mirror that reflects to each member how he operates "outside the group", b) a mediator between society and the individual.

A more poetic metaphor of the group is one that correlates with the ancient tragedy where each member will become the protagonist of an act and the remaining participants will relive their own Drama through him, until they are all lead to catharsis and psychological relief.

«The therapist functions simultaneously ... both as a team member and as a facilitator, i.e. feels responsible towards the participants but not for the participants. He is present, as a whole person with an emotional and cognitive side»
C. Rogers

What is the role of the therapist in group psychotherapy?

In individual therapy, the therapist's role is more direct in the mediation of the patient’s change. This does not occur in group therapy. In group therapy the therapist works more indirectly as he is in charge of a group of different people.

Beyond the responsibility to inform group members regarding the procedural issues and explain the basic rules of the group, such as privacy, freedom of expression, etc. The therapist's role is multi-faceted:

  1. Explores the needs, desires and goals of the participants.
  2. Encourages members to get involved in the group process, both verbally, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
  3. Causes the emergence of emotions, proceeds with their analysis and completes the process by incorporating them into the group.
  4. "Jolting" entrenched thoughts or behaviour patterns that impede the flow to the group.
  5. Educates, by himself being a role model in the group i.e., authentic in the "here and now", listening actively etc.
  6. Facilitates the expression of feelings and defuses aggression by utilising specific techniques. He has the ability tocontain the group’s "forbidden" feelings, fear, sadness, anger without feeling threatened or that he should protect himself from them.
  7. Utilises the skill of empathy. He is actively involved in fully understanding each other's experience without losing touch with himself. He knows how to move between the role of the observer and the participant.

Finally, the therapist's role is to help one by one the group members to understand as much as possible, how they relate in the group with each other and with the therapist.

What is the difference between individual and group psychotherapy?

Group therapy focuses mainly on relationships (interpersonal), while individual therapy looks more deeply into each person and his relationship with himself (intrapersonal). Both types of therapy are very effective and complementary. Combining group and individual therapy is usually the most successful way for the individual to develop.

The "informal" obligation of every member of the Group …

«As you set out for Ithaca
pray the journey to be a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Don't be afraid of the Laestrygonians and Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon…» C. Cavafis

Since each member consciously decides to start a healing journey with the group, he is expected to be committed for a period of at least seven months. This commitment is essential first of all for himself. Choosing this healing process and taking responsibility for his choice, he will have a clearer picture of how group psychotherapy works. He then has to be committed towards his other fellow travelers-group members with consistent involvement and support through the whole attractive "journey to Ithaca." You are all welcome!

1. Develop valuable interpersonal skills.
2. Cultivate the ability to observe oneself and others and to learn to relate in the "here and now"
3. He becomes aware of his responsibility in matters that concern him (i.e. that he contributes to his loneliness), through the feedback from the other group members.
4. Receive support, encouragement and acceptance by the group particularly in times of crisis.
5. Test/experiment with new behaviors and what impact these have on others.
6. Learn how to refine and redefine the way he relates, beginning with his relationship with group members.
7. Understand that other people may experience the same difficult situations and not feel alone in the journey of life.

Today I want to...

-Begin
On Line Counselling

-Get informed about
a) the seminars,
b) Theratree groups

-Read
a) essays and
b) articles from the
Theratree team

-Read proposed
a) articles, β) books

-To declare
an interest in collaborating