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Group psychotherapy: communication as the most effective means of solving personal problems

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Boston surgeon, pulmonologist Joseph Hershey Pratt, engaged in the treatment of tuberculosis, at some point in their practice, decided to treat not the disease but the patients themselves. He suggested that their psychological state plays a major role in the development and course of the infection. As the opportunity to work with sick one was not, organized group sessions. A month later, it became clear that, in comparison with an individual, they showed better results. People feel much better, was on the mend.

This happened in 1905. Since beginning to actively develop a new direction — group psychotherapy. The founder is considered to be Joseph Hershey Pratt. After much successful practice with tubercular patients he theoretically substantiated the results are positive. And several years later developed a technique of GP to those who do not suffer physical illnesses.

What it is

Group therapy is one of therapeutic methods, involving the creation of a separate group of people to resolve the psychological and partially physiological disorders under the guidance of the therapist. In contrast to the individual approach, solves the problems of the patient on the basis of the disclosure of its essence in the process of interpersonal communication.


the Idea of Pratt was picked up by the Romanian psychiatrist, psychologist and sociologist Jacob levy Moreno. The founder of psychodrama and sociometry for the first time used the term "group psychotherapy". Actively applied it in practice. Its peak of popularity in the direction reached in the postwar years (second half of the 40-ies of XX century). Hospitals in the devastated cities is not enough, and the number of people in need of psychotherapeutic help was huge. So were everywhere organized common sessions for several people.

In the 60-ies of XX century, the trend was significantly expanded and was actively used for the treatment of clinical cases. Great importance she gave to the American humanist Carl Rogers, Creator of the famous "self-concept". He introduced the concept of "encounter group", thereby laying the Foundation of anti-authoritarian indirect psychotherapy.

the Concept

There are three related concepts that the sources are often confused, which is a gross mistake.

Group psychotherapy

Small (20 people) group is created specifically. Most often it includes people with similar problems. A distinctive feature of active cooperation. They come in contact with each other, communicate and share their experiences. The therapist directs, gives tasks can sometimes step back to watch from the sidelines.

Collective psychotherapy

Group created specifically brings together people with similar problems. May include 50 or even more people. The participants practically do not interact with each other, their role is more similar to the viewer. Therapist — the center of attention, leads the work, talks, inspires, convinces, etc.

Psychotherapy in group

the Group is not created on purpose, as it already exists. This can be family, class, staff, classmates. More often resolve one global problem is interpersonal conflict between several participants. The task of the therapist is to organize the work so as not to aggravate the situation, but rather to build relationships.


Some of the directions in psychotherapy was originally created as a group: sociodrama, psychodrama, psihogimnastiki. They don't exist outside of this method. Other concepts are also actively used this form of work: existentialism, Gestalt therapy, art therapy, etc. Even the client-centered branches use it, recognizing that human beings are social beings and most fully revealed only against the background of communication and contact with other people.

In 1982, well known practicing psychologist and psychotherapist Kjell Erik Rudestam released the book "Group psychotherapy. Psychocorrectional groups: theory and practice". Despite the fact that since it's been almost 30 years, today it is the most complete encyclopedia of all psychotherapeutic schools, trends and concepts, using GP (examples and techniques):

Gestalt therapy, psychodrama, transactional analysis, body-oriented therapy, dance / movement therapy, theocentrically therapy, art therapy, behavioral Sciences, etc.

In his monumental work Rudestam also considering several kinds of groups:

T-group (training) emotional empathy to others, encouter (group meetings and directions) — self-knowledge, establishment of close contact with others, realization of personal potential, the Gestalt is the acquisition of internal control, developing the ability to take responsibility for their own emotions and actions, training of skills, the development of different forms of behaviour "here and now", urging each group member to respond to the actions of others, etc.

In 2011, the American psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, Irvin David Yalom published the book "Inpatient group psychotherapy".

Not to say that he created a new direction, or added something original. Earlier in hospitals organized similar sessions in addition to the main course of treatment. However, it is summarized, systematized and described in detail the practical application of:

efficiency, General principles, goals, prospective composition and size of groups, strategies and techniques, the approach is "here and now", problem situations: quick change of patients, the bizarre incidents, working models of high-level and low-level inpatient group psychotherapy.

today, "Inpatient group psychotherapy" aloma is a Handbook for all who have to work with the clinical diagnoses in the conditions of hospital wards.

Goals and objectives

the Main aim of group psychotherapy is to reveal the internal conflicts, contradictions, and problems of the patient based on the analysis of interpersonal interaction in the group. Thanks to the tasks, which are solved together, almost automatic correction of inadequate installations, overcoming emotional and behavioral patterns. But you need to keep in mind that each concept contributes to this goal is its specificity:

Gestalt training self-control when communicating with others, psychodrama — development of creative potential, body-oriented — to remove the shells by physical contact, etc.

On the way to achieving the main goal of group therapy has three main objectives:

self-Understanding — awareness of their own motives that drive behavior. The development of positive attitude. Self-regulation — control of your thoughts, behaviors, actions.

In the process of solving these problems the patient has formed adequate self-awareness through interpersonal communication with others and group dynamics.

Basic concepts

the Dynamics — the life cycle of the group, incorporating all current processes, interpersonal contacts, roles, interdependence of the participants.

the Rules — standards of conduct governing the relationship in the group: honesty, openness, acceptance of others, tolerance, lack of criticism, the activity.

the Role — the degree of influence of participants on each other:

the alpha — leader, leads, motivates activity and guides, gives confidence, beta — an expert with knowledge in different situations, a matter of respect, advises, gamma — anonymous, behaves passively, but adapt to the conditions, adapt, considers itself a leader, omega — suspended, closed, little contact with others.

Cohesion — the need to work as a team to solve common problems. Voltage — the opposite concept that refers to the divergence of interests and beliefs, a violation of the standards of conduct in the group, the growth of the conflict.

the Projection mapping of past interpersonal stereotypes for new ones, which brought voiced by other participants.

the sub-group is an informal breakdown of the main groups into smaller ones. In basis may be age, gender or intellectual principles.

the phase of development — the stages of the process, characterized by a specific activity and the therapist performs the desired function:

Phase I — formation of the group, adaptation to new conditions, familiarity, pseudointegral, regression and uncertainty, phase II — increase in activity, the struggle for leadership, roles, and rebellion against the therapist, a phase III — adoption of norms in the group, the voltage drop, establishing personal contacts, dilation, cohesion, cooperation, phase IV — a active work, emotional support, basic Troubleshooting, reassessment of priorities.

the first three phases usually takes 10% of the total number of sessions in the last — 70%. For example, if the course of treatment consists of 10 sessions, the first three correspond to the first three phases, the other 7 last. But it's the perfect scheme, that works only if groups are formed correctly and there's no participants in open deviant behavior.


Group psychotherapy is based on 10 principles.

Awareness: tips and instructions on how to behave and what to do. Versatility: to convince the client that his problems are unique and inherent in others. Cohesion: joint problem-solving. Altruism: the willingness to help each other. Communication: friendly conversation, discussion, feedback forms, role-playing. Revaluation of values: to know other views on the solution to the problem, than their correction. Hope: each participant must be confident in your performance. Multiple transfer: creating a close, almost family relationship within the team. Imitation of leaders and experts. Catharsis: an emotional outburst, maximum opening of the individual when out goes the pain piling up inside for a long time.

All of these principles can be clearly traced in the work of properly formed groups. They lead to a positive outcome and full recovery.

the Methods, equipment, techniques

depending on the direction in which the psychotherapist, there are the following methods of group psychotherapy.

Group discussion

Discussion the same for all participants, problems, clarification of personal aspects of its decision for each separately. Group discussion may be:

interactional — aimed at the clarification of interpersonal relationships, biographical — history of each participant, thematic discussion of the pressing, topical issues.


Organized role-playing game on the theme of linking all the participants where everyone represents their own vision of the situation. Consists of three phases:

warm-up — roles. Psychodrama action. Discussion.


Involves communication, role-playing without words — using only movement and facial expressions.

Projective drawing

As psihogimnastiki, non-verbal method of group psychotherapy. All participants are dealt to sheets of paper, means for drawing and a theme is announced, in tune with the main problem. The figure is given half an hour, and then each illustration is given time, it becomes the center of discussion.

music Therapy

session-active group music therapy participants compose their own works. Then discuss them, talk about those emotions, under the impression that they are written. On the passive classes can be arranged listening to famous arias, operas, songs, tunes, followed by a discussion about them.

depending on the selected method, the therapist uses different techniques: role play, conversation, discussion, repetition, metaphors, analysis of dreams, a reflection of passion, etc.


All group therapy sessions are held on different scenario. Sometimes even the therapist is unable to predict what will happen in a particular lesson. Because each member brings something unique to the solution to a common problem. However, before you start everyone should get a series of statements reflecting the norms of behavior that violate prohibited:

problem — one for all, it cannot be centered on themselves, but everyone she has acquired personal factors, which you should understand, you need to learn to listen and hear others, not to criticize others for a different view and attitude to the same problem.

For each formed group, the therapist prescribes its own rules, because he knows the personal characteristics of the participants. With them he introduces clients to the preliminary individual consultation.

Usually recruited in groups of 5 to 20 people. Only requires a minimum of 4 sessions, the maximum number is not limited, as long as the participants wish to meet and work together by assigning new classes to full recovery of all. Some will leave the team before the rest, if you have already come to realize the exit and reevaluate.

Example of the practice. From a woman left her husband because of what she suffered from depression complicated by obsessive ideas. She had one goal — to return him by any means. All attempts to improve relations have failed, and each of them only worsened her condition. Individual psychotherapy was ineffective, and it was included in a group of women experiencing the same tragedy. And then she suddenly saw a completely different solution to your problem. Others have found the courage to divorce him and he learned to live again without her husband. Despite the fact that they were too bad, overall, they recognized that they began to breathe easier when they no longer entertain the vain hope to regain the old relationship. After 3 sessions her life changed and she went to the amendment.

even If one participant was not able to solve the internal problem, it is considered that the therapist with his task failed.

today the group psychotherapy practiced throughout different areas starting with existentialism and ending psychoanalysis. They are successful in the treatment of even running disorders of personality and behavior.

: How to choose a therapist

,many have the stereotype that the goal of any psychologist is to discover the soul inside, to get to,In recent times it has become fashionable to use the hidden values of colors in the interior. For example, it is believed that,for centuries, People have tried to understand the relationship between the bodily form of man and his mental state. Then,know how to Draw, not all, but each person willingly or unwillingly engaged in this. Lessons fine

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