The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy

By Irvin D. Yalom | Go to book overview
group. Furthermore, the therapist, let us pray, is far better able to withstand confrontation than a scapegoated member. The entire process is self-reinforcing; a concerted attack on the leader that is handled in a nondefensive, nonretaliatory fashion serves to increase cohesiveness still further.
Group Cohesiveness and Other Therapy-Relevant Variables
Research from both therapy and laboratory groups has demonstrated that group cohesiveness has a plethora of important consequences that have obvious relevance to the group therapeutic process. It has been shown, for example, that the members of a cohesive group, in contrast to the members of a noncohesive group, will:
1. Try harder to influence other group members 80
2. Be more open to influence by the other members 81
3. Be more willing to listen to others 82 and more accepting of others 83
4. Experience greater security and relief from tension in the group 84
5. Participate more readily in meetings 85
6. Self-disclose more 86
7. Protect the group norms and exert more pressure on individuals deviating from the norms 87
8. Be less susceptible to disruption as a group when a member terminates membership. 88*

SUMMARY

By definition, cohesiveness refers to the attraction that members have for their group and for the other members. The members of a cohesive group are accepting of one another, supportive, and inclined to form meaningful relationships in the group. Cohesiveness seems to be a significant factor in successful group therapy outcome. In conditions of acceptance and understanding, patients will be more inclined to express and explore themselves, to become

____________________
*
These findings stem from experimentally composed groups and situations. As an illustration of the methodology used in these studies, consider an experiment by Schachter, who organized groups of paid volunteers to discuss a social problem--the correctional treatment of a juvenile delinquent with a long history of recidivism. 89 In the manner described previously, several groups of low and high cohesiveness were formed, and paid confederates were introduced into each group who deliberately assumed an extreme position on the topic under discussion. The content of the discussion, sociometric data, and other postgroup questionnaires were then analyzed to determine, for example, the intensity of the efforts of the group to influence the deviant and the degree of rejection of the deviant.

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