Benefits of Group Analysis for Individuals and for Couples
The process of therapy is about human relationships. The goals of therapy are about resolving the blocks to mature emotional functioning; achieving the capacity 'to love and to work'. In group therapy heterogenous groups maximise learning opportunities by providing a richer range of relationships and 'mirrors'.
I run Group Analytic groups for upto eight individuals meeting for ninety minutes weekly over fourty weeks. Some groups meet once per week, yet other groups meet twice per week for deeper work. The couples groups consist of up to four couples.
Group Analysis is different to individual therapy and has many benefits including:-
- Groups teach you about yourself. Each group member holds up a mirror so you get to see yourself through their eyes, it’s a way of uncovering the blind spots that may be blocking your ability to overcome your issues.
- Groups promote social skills, help to ease that sense of isolation, provide the opportunity to practice re-engaging with people. By participating in a group, you learn to get along with others.
- Groups can propel you towards inter-dependence by bringing awareness to your role in the family which has blocked development of the individual, whereby mature dependence may fail to replace infantile dependence or counter-dependence.
- Groups provide the opportunity to develop both socialization and communication skills.
- Groups provide belonging, support and serve as a sounding board. Group analysis costs less than individual therapy and can be incredibly powerful.
Further Benefits of Group Analytic Group
- In a well-functioning analytic group, each member discovers their inner world and discerns how it colours their view of others, and their inner worlds. This promotes the recognition that others are not just objects to be desired or feared, but people with their own valid viewpoints and feelings. Similarities and differences can then be clarified and respected, as stereotyping and projections are reduced, transference distortions based on internal object relationships as well as illusions are exposed and modified through intersubjective validation, and prejudices transcended towards mutual empathy. Individuals then become less defensively self-absorbed.
- In individual therapy empathy is the prerogative of the analyst, who then has to rely on changes in the patient's transference, and his or her reports of changes in relationships outside the treatment setting. The group setting not only provides the opportunity for observing others in interaction, and of having oneself observed in interaction with others, but also models the triangulation that is the basis of both Oedipal and social development. Groups can help people who have become stuck in individual analyses, as harmful unconscious collusions and misunderstandings between individual patient and therapist can be observed and challenged by others.
- Our need to cling to the internal object relationship is a source of severe resistance in analysis. This often becomes clear in the matrix of the analytic group as a shared problem. What do we do if our sense of self and safety, or that of another group member depends on maintaining, for instance, the role of victim or of omnipotent controller, of independent coper or entertainer? These and other roles can block the development of the individual or group. For example, mature dependence may fail to replace infantile dependence or counter-dependence.
- Our experience in the family continues to influence perception of outside relationships, largely unconsciously, so that inner and outer worlds resonate and mutually recreate each other in repetitive patterns with significant others beyond the family. The significance of each person to the other, and thus the nature and quality of the subjective feelings and phantasies evoked by the interaction at any point in time, or the group matrix within, will depend on the total configuration of relationships within the system - of understanding the multi-personal psychological field. Groups provide transformational, transitional and reparational functions for the individual. They also act as links with sociocultural norms and values, with the world outside the family.
- Groups provide a sense of belonging, an identification through membership of groups that give one a continuing sense of 'we-ness'. This can be taken for granted until groups - and their function for the individual are disrupted by migration or relational difficulties.