The Large Group: Dynamics and Therapy

By Lionel Kreeger | Go to book overview

8. The large group in training

A. C. Robin Skynner1

There is already a well-developed use of small groups, usually comprising 6 to 12 but occasionally up to 16 members, for sensitising mental-health professionals to psychological factors. Three main British approaches may be distinguished. The first, associated particularly with the Department of Children and Parents at the Tavistock Clinic,2 avoids interpretation of the participants' counter-transference or group interaction, focusing instead on case discussion and relying on identification processes to provide insight for those who can accept it, in the manner of Caplan.3 The second, associated particularly with the Adult Department at the Tavistock Clinic,4 also begins from case discussion but utilises the group interaction to illuminate countertransference involvement and it aims, in the words of its main originator, Balint,5 at a 'limited, though considerable change in personality'.

Both the above techniques lean more heavily on the psychoanalytic model and on the group theories of Bion6 and Ezriel.7 The third method, derived from the group-analytic principles of S. H. Foulkes,8 operates closer to the depth of a therapy group: while avoiding more personal interpretation than is absolutely necessary, the developing themes and interaction in the groupas-a-whole are interpreted, with the aim of facilitating a maturational process in the participants. In my own application of this method 9 there is a particular focus on the shared motivation of the participants in choosing and performing their professional work. This usually proves to be rooted in pathology similar to that typical of their chosen patients or clients, and because of this the insight gained not only replaces this pathological

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