Conclusion And Important Contraindica Tions

Working with intense affect makes demands on both members and the leader, and the therapist must assess both the group's capacity to tolerate feelings and engage in thought as well as his or her own. Resistances are often discovered in the therapist (Billow, 2001), and it is part of professional training to seek consultation and perhaps further personal therapy to help resolve them. Assessing the group's capacity is not a black-or-white decision, however, as any group will become more cohesive and self-assured as the skills of emotional engagement are put into practice. Obviously, there will also be a limit, which must be respected by the leader, lest a traumatizing and possibly escalating process (fueled perhaps by scapegoating or unexpressed anger at the therapist) emerge.

Interventions or techniques are not, however, to be applied as though following a recipe. There is too much complexity in the intertwined feelings of leader and members, too much contributed by their shared history, and too much of the leader's own emotional constitution to thoughtlessly apply a formulaic response. Even something that comes recommended by a colleague must be carefully considered, assessing the situation and one's own therapeutic self for good ness of "fit." The reader is thus encouraged to consider the ways in which the proposed interventions might be adapted to a response that would feel organic to his or her own temperament and therapeutic stance.


Billow, R. (2001). The therapist's anxiety and resistance to group. International

Journal of Group Psychotherapy. 51(2): 5-100. Brabender, V. (2002). Introduction to Group Therapy. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Fehr, S.S. (2003). Introduction to Group Therapy: A Practical Guide. (Second edition). Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press. Ormont, L. (1984). The leader's role in dealing with aggression in groups. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 34(4): 553-572. Rutan, S. & Stone, W. (2001). Psychodynamic Group Psychotherapy (Second edition). New York: Guilford Press. Steinberg, P. & Duggal, S (2004). Threats of violence in group-oriented day treatment. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 54(1) 5-22.

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