Intervention Guidelines

At the preparatory stage, when clients1 are being prepared for group participation, the notion of the group as a place to practice new behaviors should be suggested to them. The therapist should start by offering a general explanation that group psychotherapy provides an opportunity to learn with and from other people and to understand the patterns of behavior of oneself and of others. Members learn about themselves in group as they typically interact in that setting in ways that parallel their interactions in their lives outside. The therapist should then listen for responses from the client so as to ensure that this concept is adequately grasped. The therapist then suggests that the inverse also occurs, and explains to the new member that group members are encouraged to practice new ways of engaging with others in the group, and that typically when a member feels safe with the group, she or he will take risks that would be avoided in his or her world outside. The therapist should then suggest that she or he might want to think about behaviors that the client needs or wants to change and that she or he could try out in the group. It is important to use the word "practice" as its provisional (temporary/transient) quality offers clients a sense of security in not committing to change behaviors for which they may not be ready, thus bypassing resistance. For example, the therapist could say: "You have reported that you have some difficulties talking openly with your friends; over time you may feel comfortable enough in the. group to practice saying things to peers that you would not normally say to your friends." It is not necessary to add to this until the client is actually in the group.

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