Complex Dilemmas in Group Therapy: Pathways to Resolution

Complex Dilemmas in Group Therapy: Pathways to Resolution

Complex Dilemmas in Group Therapy: Pathways to Resolution

Complex Dilemmas in Group Therapy: Pathways to Resolution

Synopsis

Group therapy presents the mental health professional with a unique set of problems and considerations. But while the issues that arise in a group setting and the kinds of decisions that need to be made are often quite unlike those encountered in individual therapy, the existing literature provides neither the inexperienced therapist nor the seasoned clinician with much guidance about how to address these complex problems. Complex Dilemmas in Group Therapy rectifies the situation. Edited by two of the field's leading practitioners and containing the work of more than two dozen experienced group therapists, this casebook provides a comprehensive look at the issues and problems unique to group therapy. The book is divided into seven sections, each devoted to a specific theme such as boundaries, enactments, projective identification, destructive group dynamics, and time-limited group therapy. After an overview of the given theme, each section includes three complex clinical dilemmas that fall under that rubric, and the responses of two seasoned clinicians to those dilemmas. Concluding each section is an extended theoretical discussion of the ways in which ideas about the particular topic have changed over time. This text is designed to appeal to both early-career group therapists and more experienced clinicians, and practitioners at all levels will find it an important resource for this growing therapeutic field.

Excerpt

Imagine you have been running a therapy group for several years when suddenly the same group which has functioned well to now suddenly goes off the rails. One patient monopolizes the sessions with her anger and incessant talking, another assaults your competence, several others drop out precipitously, and your group, formerly passionate and vibrant, is now close to death. Anxious and confused, you dread meeting with your group again, even though group therapy has been the highlight of your practice for many years. How do you understand what has happened, and what do you do?

The idea for this book began 10 years ago when, as a neophyte group therapist, I found myself facing many such dilemmas. Each month, I looked forward to receiving the Group Circle, the American Group Psychotherapy Association's newsletter, because it had a column called “Consultation, Please” in which senior clinicians responded to a complex dilemma. What a great training tool! When Joe Shay, my co-editor on the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy Newsletter, suggested we add a similar column to the newsletter, I agreed and asked if he would like to edit a book of clinical dilemmas with me so that we could offer similar consultation to students, neophyte group therapists, and senior clinicians who would inevitably find themselves faced with complicated situations in their own work.

Toward that end, we asked seven clinicians each to write a theoretical chapter addressing an important concept or current issue in group therapy. We then asked two senior group therapists to respond to each of three complex dilemmas we created for each chapter. the groups and patients in these dilemmas are fictitious although some of the scenarios are based on situations we have encountered in our practices or supervisions over the years. Overall, Complex Dilemmas in Group Therapy includes chapters and responses from fifty clinicians.

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