Group Therapy Dynamics by the Essay

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Goals -- For Bion, groups have specific goals that are differentiated by the manner of dissonance individuals bring: drug dependency, sexual abuse, a fatal disease, etc. This coming together out of homogeneity with a clear and stated aim -- dealing with the issue. Each group may or may not be identical in make up; for instance, there can be commonalities within the group, but the goal is the same. Uncovering the barriers to good health in the individual. It is clear rehabilitation from the issue that harbors negativity or an inability to be complete that allows for group therapy to use the interplay of the individual for a synergistic goal (Bion, 2004, 26).

Yalom, as noted, came to realize that there was really no such thing as a cure for the issues that surround dissonance. There is no such thing as permant conflict removal because humans continue to evolve and conflict at one juncture is different than a future issue. Instead, the clear and persistent goal is change through self-knowledge, analysis of transference, and the movement torwards self-actualization, which is a continuous process throughout life (Yalom and Leszcz, 240, 370).

Leadership Style -- Of course, for both men, there must be an individual that acts as a central template -- or organization, for the group. This person must be wary of placing their own concerns and predispositions onto the group, but must still be an effective leader in the sense that one leads as opposed to manage -- but manages when more appropriate than leading. Yalom says that the effectiveness of a group is really the way the leader functions behaviorally and functionally (Ibid., 536). He also admits that as long as the therapist accepts the responsibility of leadership and guidance, transference will occur -- and is a natural and expected part of the process. As long as therapist countertransference does not occur to obstruct the group's work, the situation is thus positive (Ibid., 213, 318).

Bion has a more strict role for the leader, but cautions that the group leader should take steps to refrain from giving individual interpretations that may have a unwanted guiding effect upon the group as a whole. He sees appropriate group leadership as a strategic military man -- there is a goal in sight. It is up to the General to work out the strategic direction, and suggest tactics to get there -- and to ensure that there is adequate support for those tactics. However, the group itself must be focused enough to follow the General's plan without every single step being micromanaged (Bion, 65-7). The leader must also remember events and key issues from one group session to the next in order to guide the group forward -- to prevent retreat or becoming mired in the mud at an inappropriate venue. He acknolwedges transferenc occurs, but also believes that a true group leader will continually ask themselves how the group is responding, and take steps to adjust techniques along the way (Ibid., 74).

Technique- Bion's group require a task and an outline of moving from point A to point B. within the therapeutic process. This is a dual set of treatments -- one for each individual within the group, the other for the group as a whole organism itself. His view is that it is not the task of group therapy to deal with the individual's own psychological difficulties, but rather to transcend those difficulties so that the group dynamic will act as a healing element for the individual. To do this, Bion's technique focuses on the leader setting up a series of interventions and then stepping back to allow the group to work through these sets of dynamics in their own way; constantly guiding at appropriate times so that the group does not take the easy or passive way out of delving into difficult or painful discoveries (Lipgar and Pines, 2003. 29-36).

Yalom takes a number of environmental factors into consideration, which allows his technique to be more adaptive to the type of group and the place/time/setting of the therapeutic situation. Yalom's fluid technique is to help with the initial engagement and affiliation of the group; then work through the isues of power, status and compteition until the group experience begins to appear. Members are encouraged to describe their individual experiences to form common bonds with the rest of the group (you are unique but you are not alone). Yalom's technique then moves towards guiding the group towards exploration, but far less leader centered. He correlates the movement from leader centered to leader guide and exploration with positive achievement and movement towards change (Yalom and Leszcz, 309-10).

Curative Factors -- As previously noted, Yalom

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