The Appropriate Popula Tion

For this intervention to be effective, the group population must have a certain degree of ego strength, the ability to be somewhat introspective, open to disclosure with a minimum of defensiveness, and be willing to reexperience previous emotional pain on the continuum of mild to perhaps intense.


This intervention could not be any easier for the group therapist. It is only two direct questions: one presented before the other with concomitant discussion and then subsequently the other with its concomitant discussion. It is not uncommon for this intervention to take two group sessions, if not longer, if the information disclosed brings forth multiple associations within the group members' lives. It is suggested that the two questions be kept separated and solely presented in a group session for which it has been designated.

The Two Questions


It is not uncommon, at all, to find that group members truly get into this intervention. For some initially, there may be trepidation but once the group members begin to disclose their previous experiences of hurt, a prolific dialogue ensues. Clients often identify not only with the events or experiences in another group member's life, and if not the experience, at least the feeling or the residual feeling which the client has been carrying around, in many cases, for many years.


This very simple intervention/technique will elicit a wealth of personal information on the part of the group members. They will often have the opportunity of experiencing the corrective emotional experience, because the group members are often very supportive and sympathetic to the disclosure, and they offer multiple identifications to the group member disclosing his or her feelings. This experience of multiple identifications with support and empathy helps the client to not feel alone or what Corsini and Rosenberg (1955) referred to as "universalization," which (Yalom, 1970) later referred to as "universality." Interestingly, when the question is posed, "To whom do you owe an apology?" a number of group members will say, No one! Thus we can introduce at this time how often many people are very sensitive to what has been done to them but are insensitive to what they have done to others. This often helps elicit, for some members, recollections of what, where, and when they have been less than sensitive in their relationships.


Although we have not found this intervention to have had any contraindications if explored with the appropriate population, it was suggested (Chew, 2006) that posing such questions without knowing the vulnerabilities of the group members and not having clinical tact and timing may place the clients in danger of unnecessary negative experiences. We do not disagree with that statement but feel the ethical and experienced group therapist is well aware of the ego strength of his or her group members.


Chew, J. (2006) Book Review. Introduction to Group Therapy: A Practical Guide (Second edition). International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 56 (2), 251253.

Corsini, R.J. & Rosenberg, B. (1955). Mechanisms of Group Psychotherapy: Processes and Dynamics. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 5,406-411.

Fehr, S.S. (2003). Introduction to Group Therapy: A Practical Guide (Second edition). Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press.

Yalom, I. D.. (1970). The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

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