Training the Group Therapist
Group therapy is a curious plant in the garden of psychotherapy. It is hardy: the best available research has established that group therapy is effective, as robust as individual therapy. 1 Yet it needs constant tending; its perennial fate is to be periodically choked by the same old weeds: "superficial," "dangerous," "second-rate--to be used only when individual therapy is unavailable or unaffordable."
Patients and many mental health professionals continue to underrate and to fear group therapy, and unfortunately those very same attitudes adversely influence group therapy training programs. Group therapy has never been accorded academic prestige, and rarely have academicians earned university tenure on the basis of a career devoted to small group research. Why? Perhaps because group therapy cannot cleanse itself of the anti-intellectual taint of the encounter group movement, or because of the formidable intrinsic methodological obstacles to rigorous, truly meaningful research. The same situation prevails in clinics and hospital administration hierarchies: rarely does the individual who is most invested in group therapy enjoy a position of professional authority.
Attempts to alter this situation have always worked--but for the briefest of times. An initial wave of renewed enthusiasm for group therapy is followed by neglect, and soon all the old weeds crowd in once again. The moment demands a whole new generation of well-trained gardeners, and it behooves us to pay careful attention to the education of student group therapists.
In this chapter, I shall present my views about group therapy training, not only in specific recommendations for a training curriculum but also in the form of general considerations concerning an underlying philosophy of training. The