The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy

By Irvin D. Yalom | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
The Advanced Group

Once a group has survived its first few months, it is no longer possible to describe familiar stages of development. When a group achieves a degree of stability, the long working-through process begins, and the major therapeutic factors described in the earlier chapters operate with increasing force and effectiveness. Members gradually engage more deeply in the group and discover and share their problems in living. There is no limit to the richness and complexity of the group sessions.

No one, therefore, can offer specific procedural guidelines for each contingency. In general, the therapist must strive to encourage development and operation of the therapeutic factors. The application of the basic principles of the therapist's role and technique to specific group events and to each patient's therapy (as discussed in chapters 5, 6, and 7) constitutes the art of psychotherapy, and for this there is no substitute for experience, supervision, and intuition.

Certain issues and problems occur, however, with sufficient regularity to warrant discussion. In this chapter, I consider subgrouping, conflict, self- disclosure, and termination of therapy. In the next chapter, "Problem Patients," I discuss certain recurrent behavioral configurations in patients that present a challenge to the therapist and to the group.


SUBGROUPING

Fractionalization --the splitting off of smaller units--occurs in every social organization. The process may be transient or enduring, helpful or harmful, for

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