Group psychotherapy

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Group psychotherapy or group therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which one or more therapists treat a small group of clients together as a group. The term can legitimately refer to any form of psychotherapy when delivered in a group format, including Cognitive behavioural therapy or Interpersonal therapy, but it is usually applied to psychodynamic group therapy where the group context and group process is explicitly utilised as a mechanism of change by developing, exploring and examining interpersonal relationships within the group. The broader concept of group therapy can be taken to include any helping process that takes place in a group, including support groups, skills training groups (such as anger management, mindfulness, relaxation training or social skills training), and psycho-education groups. The differences between psychodynamic groups, activity groups, support groups, problem-solving and psycoeducational groups are discussed by Montgomery (2002).[1] Other, more specialised forms of group therapy would include non-verbal expressive therapies such as dance therapy, music therapy or the TaKeTiNa Rhythm Process.


History of group psychotherapy

The founders of group psychotherapy in the USA were Joseph H. Pratt, Trigant Burrow and Paul Schilder. All three of them were active and working at the East Coast in first half of the 20th century. After World War II group psychotherapy was further developed by Jacob L. Moreno, Samuel Slavson, Hyman Spotnitz, Irvin Yalom, and Lou Ormont. Yalom's approach to group therapy has been very influential not only in the USA but across the world, through his classic text "The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy".[2] Moreno developed a specific and highly structured form of group therapy known as Psychodrama.

In the United Kingdom group psychotherapy initially developed independently, with pioneers S. H. Foulkes and Wilfred Bion using group therapy as an approach to treating combat fatigue in the Second World War.[3] Foulkes and Bion were psychoanalysts and incorporated psychoanalysis into group therapy by recognising that transference can arise not only between group members and the therapist but also among group members. Furthermore the psychoanalytic concept of the unconscious was extended with a recognition of a group unconscious, in which the unconscious processes of group members could be acted out in the form of irrational processes in group sessions. Foulkes developed the model known as Group Analysis and the Institute of Group Analysis, while Bion was influential in the development of group therapy at the Tavistock Clinic. Bion has been criticised, for example by Yalom,[4] for his technical approach which had an exclusive focus on analysis of whole-group processes to the exclusion of any exploration of individual group members' issues. Despite this, his recognition of group defences in the "Basic Assumption Group", has been highly influential.[5][6]

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