The Therapist: Working in the
The major difference between an outpatient therapy group that hopes to effect extensive and enduring behavioral and characterological change and such groups as AA, Recovery, Inc., psycho-educational groups, weight-reduction groups, and cancer support groups is that the therapy group strongly emphasizes the importance of the here-and-now experience.
In chapter 2, I presented some of the theoretical underpinnings of the use of the here-and-now. Now it is time to focus on the clinical application of the here-and-now in group therapy. First, keep in mind this important principle-- perhaps the single most important point I make in this entire book: the here- and-now focus, to be effective, consists of two symbiotic tiers, neither of which has therapeutic power without the other.
The first tier is an experiencing one: the members live in the here-and-now; they develop strong feelings toward the other group members, the therapist, and the group. These here-and-now feelings become the major discourse of the group. The thrust is ahistoric: the immediate events in the meeting take precedence over events both in the current outside life and in the distant past of the members. This focus greatly facilitates the development and emergence of each member's social microcosm. It facilitates feedback, catharsis, meaningful self- disclosure, and acquisition of socializing techniques. The group becomes more vital, and all of the members (not only the one who is working that session) become intensely involved in the meeting.
But the here-and-now focus rapidly reaches the limits of its usefulness without the second tier, which is the illumination of process. If the powerful therapeutic factor of interpersonal learning is to be set in motion, the group must recognize, examine, and understand process. It must examine itself; it must