Conclusion And Contraindications

In an established, long-term, psychodynamic group, the group contract can become a metaphorical member of the group. Rather than simply a set of rules to live by in group, over time it takes on a personality of its own. Each member has a relationship with the contract. How that relationship progresses will influence all of the other relationships in the group. Doug's acting out and awareness of not abiding by the contract foreclosed on his openness to forming other relationships in the group. Left unexplored, Doug would have eventually used his "misbehavior" with the contract to recreate the deep sense of shame that has been pervasive around vulnerable emotions in his life and likely lead to a premature termination of his group membership.

Using the group contract as a piece of the relational matrix of the group allows the therapist yet another set of relationships to explore and understand. It is important to note that there are times when even the deepest understanding of contract violations does not negate the damaging aspects of the behavior on the group. One example of such destructive behavior is a sexual liaison between group members. Obviously, this will require not only intense exploration, but it ultimately must lead to one or both members leaving the group if the outside relationship continues.

REFERENCES

Fehr, S. (2003). Introduction to Group Therapy. (Second edition). Binghamton,

NY: The Haworth Press. Rutan, S. & Stone, W. (1993). Psychodynamic Group Psychotherapy. New York: The Guilford Press.

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