Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy


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The therapist, whose responsibility requires him to keep all the group relationships in his ken, simply cannot handle them. Nor does the situation permit their development. There are too many interruptions. Reality cannot be sufficiently subdued. They also find it easier to displace to their less awesome peers the love or hate meant for the therapist. Moreover, the members react subjectively to one another, so that transference illusions cannot be maintained very long.

Instead, frequent changes of transference objects tend to occur, and only one aspect is reenacted with one person at a time, though several may be going on simultaneously. Thus, the manifestations of transference are less concentrated but they are not less intense than those of individual psychoanalysis. Transference in the group, then, consists of concurrent series of inappropriate reactions toward a variety of persons with whom past attitudes and feelings and behavior are repeated.

Actually, a monolithic transference of this kind has never developed in the therapy group. Transference processes develop in a unique way in the group. From the beginning, the members turn to one another as well as to the therapist in their unconscious search for infantile gratifications.

For this purpose they form a number of neurotic alliances of varying duration and intensity.

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Those who have complementary needs in any one area will tend to engage in a transferential transaction for mutual satisfaction. Those whose needs are similar may identify with one another. Both forms of relationship will carry resistance. The individual members bend, in this respect, to the movement of the group as a whole; but in the long run all of their individual conflicts will make themselves felt and become available for analysis. As treatment progresses, the interconnecting transference processes will create a continually shifting network compare Ezriel, A second change in the form of the transference arises from the fact that reality cannot be drastically reduced and free association is restricted in the group.

Defensive aspects of the transference tend to remain in the forefront of the interaction.

The emphasis is on the ego rather than on the infantile libidinal and aggressive drives. Freud, Though they are intended to ward off the original drives, they regularly betray their presence. Because of the emphasis on the ego, also, a great many of the transference phenomena in the therapy group consist of character defenses. They may be classed as transference because the behavior represents the solution of infantile conflicts and thus bring the past into the present; but they are habitual modes of behavior and tend to be fixed rather than responsive to a particular object Fenichel, Because they bind the anxiety so well they are not usually experienced as ego alien.

For this reason they are difficult to deal with in individual analysis A. Freud, but respond very well to group treatment. The members quickly react to their stereotyped quality. Although patients whose character resistance is being explored in the group also put up a fight, they yield much more readily to the interpretations of their peers who are less threatening than the therapist.

Freud, , for the group members provide what the individual analyst cannot. They exert pressure which eventually succeeds in giving impulsive patients pause to think before they plunge into action. This wedge forces them to become aware of the intense anxiety which heretofore they had done away with by acting out.

Once they experience anxiety, the other group members provide the emotional support which helps them to endure it. Inner change becomes possible. Modification in the Management of Transference in Group Therapy If transference is to be employed as the principal therapeutic instrument, then each manifestation of it must be analyzed separately, for that is how it presents itself in the group.

In other words, the group therapist must be responsive to what is actually happening instead of relying on a preconceived concept from another setting. As he observes the many intragroup transference processes shifting rapidly in ever-changing configurations, he must be alert in order to interpret those that bear resistance.

He cannot wait, as in individual analysis, for a slow buildup of single structures—the timing of his interventions must be geared to the empirical situation. Secondly, he must learn to select the transference reaction or transaction which is, at the moment, most pertinent both to the group and to the individual engaged in it. Sometimes this requires that he make an interpretation to an individual who at that point seems to epitomize the major group preoccupation, or whose own need is so strong that he must be allowed to determine the group focus.

The therapist must assess the situation and act according to his clinical judgment.

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At other times the therapist may make his comments to two or more members as a unit or to the group as a whole: Whichever he chooses to do, he will follow through by trying to draw everyone into the discussion. Although the other members may not be openly involved in the particular transaction being explored, they will probably be responding to it inwardly.

Eliciting these reactions helps them work it through. The group therapist also shares his interpretive function with the members. He permits the patients to engage in it freely and often finds them extremely insightful. It takes one to know one!

Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy

But because patients frequently use interpretations to express their own unconscious motivation, and because the therapist alone understands the total picture and is skilled in timing, he must reserve for himself the ultimate management of the interpretive function. In doing so he follows the basic principles of psychoanalytic method but adapts them to meet the changed conditions. He finds that in the group the therapeutic process moves in a horizontal rather than a vertical plane.

It resembles a plane trip in contrast to the voyage by rail of individual analysis Fried, Moreover, because so many transferences occur in rapid succession and tend to overlap, the group therapist will, ipso facto, be more active in dealing with resistance. The pace of the therapeutic process will be faster; its rhythm, more staccato.


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The Systematic Analysis of Transference in Group Psychotherapy The question remains as to whether analysis of transference and resistance may be carried out systematically enough in the group setting to bring about the resolution of those infantile conflicts of the members which brought them into treatment in the first place. At first glance the very intricacy of the multitudinous and interconnecting transferences would seem to raise an impossible obstacle to an orderly group analysis.

Experience has disproved this concern. The complexities of the group communications can be reduced to manageable proportions. As the therapist concentrates on the continually reintegrating group relationships, a new kind of patterning becomes apparent to him. Skip to main content. Advertisement Hide. The significance of here- and-now disclosure in promoting cohesion in group psychotherapy. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Allen, J. Implications of research in self-disclosure for group psychotherapy. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 23 3 , — PubMed Google Scholar. Berelsen, B. Human behavior. Google Scholar. Bergin, A. Handbook of psychotherapy and behavioral change. Bion, W. Experiences in groups. London: Tavistock. Braaten, L. Group cohesion: A new multidimensional model.

Group, 15 1 , 39— Cartwright, D. Group dynamics. Chelune, G. Nature and assessment of self-disclosing behavior. McReynolds Ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Cozby, P. Self-disclosure, A literature review.

Psychological Bulletin, 79 , 73— Culbert, S. The interpersonal process of self-disclosure: It takes two to see one. Blumberg Eds. Itaska, IL: F. Ferencik, B. A typology of the here- and-now: Issues in group therapy.

Book Details

International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 41 2 , — Fitzgerald, M. Self-disclosure and expressed self-esteem, social distance and areas of the self revealed. Journal of Psychology, 56 , — Flapan, D. The developing ego and the emerging of self in group psychotherapy. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Frank, J. Journal of Psychology, 56 , — Flapan, D. The developing ego and the emerging of self in group psychotherapy.

Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Frank, J. Some determinants, manifestations, and effects of cohesiveness in therapy groups. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 7 , 53— Freud, S. Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. New York: Collyer Books. Gross, N. On group cohesiveness. American Journal of Sociology, 57 , — Gruen, W.

A contribution toward understanding cohesiveness in small groups. Psychological Reports, 17 , — Halverson, C. Self-disclosure and interpersonal functioning. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 33 , — Hoffman, S. The effects of initial structure and a group member's willingness to disclose on actual self-disclosure and group cohesiveness. Unpublished doctoral dissertation.

Notre Dame University. Johnson, D. Self-disclosure, participation, and perceived cohesiveness in small group interaction. Psychological Reports, 35 , — Jourard, S. Self-disclosure: An experimental analysis of the transparent self. Kirshner, B. The effects of experimental manipulation of self-disclosure on group cohesiveness.

Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland. Kuppersmith, J. The relative effects of here- and-now versus there- and-then self-disclosure upon personality and cohesiveness in marathon-encounter groups. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Mississippi. Meadow, P. The maturation sequence.

Modern Psychoanalysis, 13 2 , — Ormont, L. Establishing the analytic contract in a newly formed therapeutic group. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 35 , — Group resistance and the therapy contract. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 18 , — The leader's role in resolving resistances to intimacy in the group setting.

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Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy
Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy
Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy
Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy
Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy
Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy
Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy Resolving Resistance in Group Psychotherapy
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