The Group as Therapist

The Group as Therapist

The Group as Therapist

The Group as Therapist


Group psychotherapy is often assumed to be inferior to individual psychotherapy. Based upon the author's initial experience of group therapy, this work describes the classic analytic group and demonstrates its potential benefits.


I feel honoured in having been invited by Rachael to write a foreword to her book The Group as Therapist. This is an extremely thoughtful and comprehensive overview, as applied contemporaneously to the present day. She does not simply give us a synopsis of the Foulkesian approach but adds her own observations: for instance, to Foulkes’ comment that the group conductor’s role involves bowing to the authority of the group, which in a sense idealizes the group, she points out that it is a good thing also to understand the various perspectives, including that of the group conductor himself. Rachael reminds us that everyone has to learn for themselves how to take a group. She branches out from the original Foulkesian model to group functioning from several other perspectives, e.g. groups with psychotic and borderline personalities, multiple family therapy groups, therapeutic community groups, couples groups, median and large groups as well as the peer groups of children. She writes a very significant chapter on ethical relating, holding that we cannot simply rely on the benefits of scientific and technological advance as self-evident. She holds that moral philosophy plays an undeniable role in the effective functioning of group therapy and that moral and political growth can take place as a healing process ‘within the larger group of humanity as a whole’. I was intrigued by her suggestion that we have gone further than Kant in introducting empathy, reciprocity and love in place of his listed codes of duty.

This is a brilliant exposition written in a deceptively simple and readable style. It is a must!

Congratulations, Rachael: I am favoured by our friendly association over the past twenty-seven years.

Pat B. de Maré frc Psych April 2000

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