Like most interventions in psychotherapy, timing is an important factor in this exercise. An instructor must rely on intuition to feel that the class trusts him or her as this will be the driving force behind students' ability to trust that the exercise has educational and therapeutic value. As previously noted in the literature, trust is an essential theme in the formative stages of group (Fehr, 2003; Rutan & Stone 1993; Yalom, 1995). If the exercise is pushed upon them too early before trust is developed, they may withdraw from fear of further wounds. Conversely, if the exercise is engaged too late, an overintellectualized norm may be established due to a missed opportunity for interpersonal bonding.

In contrast to privately led therapy groups, instructors of group psychotherapy do not have the luxury of choosing their members. While many students are equipped to succeed academically, some maybe less emotionally fortified and this intervention may represent a threat to their ego integrity. Properly addressing the APA's guidelines (APA, 2002) regarding student disclosures may aid them in deciding how to proceed with the exercise, as students are no longer required to engage in this practice.

Finally, blurred boundaries in the format of a group psychotherapy class also affect the instructor. As one navigates between the teacher and therapeutic roles, a dual relationship is created, and the instructor must be aware that student reactions to the class and/or to himself or herself can lead to strong countertransferential feelings. Addressing these issues within oneself or with a colleague is recommended when such conditions arise.


American Psychological Association. (2002). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. American Psychologist, 57, 1060-1073. Fehr, S.S. (2003). Introduction to Group Therapy: A Practical Guide (Second edition). Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press. Rutan, J. S. & Stone, W. N. (1993). Psychodynamic Group Psychotherapy (Second edition). New York: The Guilford Press. Yalom, Irvin D. (1995). The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy (Fourth edition). New York: Basic Books.

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