Silence In An Analytic Group Population

After being a group therapist for a number of years I was actively engaged in the technique of not looking at the person speaking in the group, one that was counter-intuitive to my being a group member. In doing this task, watching the nonverbal and verbal responses to the speaker and not being in the thrall of the person speaking, I became aware that the other group members were as silent as I was. Put succinctly, the entire group was silent except for one person. In other words, in group therapy, there was more silence, more people silent than speaking from a phenomenological perspective. What was going on in the silence? What were their responses to what they were hearing? Why were they not responding to the speaker? I had no idea. Silence appeared to be the absence of a visual or verbal response to the words that were being spoken by one group member. If every mem ber of the group spoke at the same time it would have created chaos, a "Babel effect" of everyone speaking at the same moment. So it seemed that in that group of seven, plus one therapist, there was actually more silence than speaking! Since that time 1 have questioned a number of basic ideas about the nature of verbal group therapy and silence.

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