Analyzing Group Techniques Group therapy can alleviate feelings of isolation and foster a supportive and collaborative environment for sharing difficult feelings in order to facilitate healing. For many people, being part of a group that has a shared understanding of a struggle provides a unique opportunity to gain an understanding of their own experiences. As you examine one of the group therapy demonstrations from this week’s Learning Resources, consider the role and efficacy of the leader and the reasons that specific therapeutic techniques were selected. To prepare: Select one of the group therapy video demonstrations from this week’s required media Learning Resources. The Assignment In a 3- to 4-page paper, identify the video you selected and address the following:
- What group therapy techniques were demonstrated?
- How well do you believe these techniques were demonstrated?
- What evidence from the literature supports the techniques demonstrated?
- What did you notice that the therapist did well?
- Explain something that you would have handled differently.
- What is an insight that you gained from watching the therapist handle the group therapy?
- Now imagine you are leading your own group session.
- How would you go about handling a difficult situation with a disruptive group member?
- How would you elicit participation in your group?
- What would you anticipate finding in the different phases of group therapy?
- What do you see as the benefits and challenges of group therapy?
- Support your reasoning with at least three peer-reviewed, evidence-based sources, and explain why each of your supporting sources is considered scholarly.
Psychotherapy with Multiple Modalities: Group Psychotherapy Techniques
Irvin Yalom, an existential therapist, is probably the best-known proponent of group therapy. Group therapy is one of the empirically supported therapy or EST techniques for managing mental problems (Wheeler, 2020). A variety of mental disorders, including alcohol use disorder (AUD), betting, depression, and many others, can benefit from group psychotherapy (APA, 2013). The number of individuals in a therapy group might range from six to fifteen people. This is dependent on the goals and nature of the group. A class might be classified as main, secondary, or tertiary. It can also be made up of both voluntary and involuntary participation. Members of voluntary membership groups have given their full agreement to participate. Involuntary membership groups, on the other hand, include participants who have been compelled by a courtroom or any other required authorities to undergo group treatment (Corey et al., 2018; Rosenthal, 2017). These individuals typically suffer from mental disorders that cause them to perpetrate minor offenses. A prime example is a heavy drinker or a gambling addict who steals money to fund their addiction. Healing happens in groups on the basis of group therapeutic or curative forces. Catharsis, universality, altruism, and interpersonal learning are among them (Overholser, 2005; Yalom & Leszcz, 2005). The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a video of a group therapy session and then answer questions based on it.
Responses to Questions Based on the Video of the Group Therapy Session
Listening actively, offering encouragement, cutting off, use of eyes, tone setting, and understanding are some of the group therapy strategies portrayed in the video. The group leader (therapist) did an excellent job of bringing out these approaches, particularly with relation to the participant who had been mute throughout. By sitting in a circular pattern, the eyes were used effectively. The therapist was able to keep visual contact with all of the group participants in this manner, and as a result, he was able to identify the female who was not participating. The way the therapist set the tone of the session was also indicative of tone creation.
The above techniques were demonstrated very well going by what the therapist did with the group participants. For instance, the therapist encouraged the participants to speak openly about their anxieties and concerns. He was also sympathetic to the woman who was hesitant to speak and pushed her to do so but in a very tactful and encouraging manner. The team leader or therapist also used active listening techniques and encouraged the members to express themselves without fear. Finally, the group leader utilized a clean-cut-off technique while intervening to redirect the conversation so that everyone could have a chance to speak and profit from the curative factors. It is these and other instances of demonstration of competence that show that the therapist or group leader indeed demonstrated very well the application of the techniques mentioned earlier.
The above strategies utilized in the video are supported by plenty of published scholarly evidence from the available literature. Rosenthal (2017), Corey et al. (2018), Overholser (2005), and Yalom and Leszcz (2005) provide some of this evidence (2005). The first two and the last one here are authoritative texts on psychotherapy and counseling. However, the work by Overholser (2005) is an article that was peer-reviewed and published.
I thought the psychotherapist did a good job of identifying the individual who was not communicating and encouraging her to do so. She quickly confessed that she was terrified to talk because she was not accustomed to seeing a large group of people staring at her and dissecting everything she says. The counselor was successful to get the mute lady to speak and engage with the other participants by gently applying supportive and proactive listening tactics.
The utilization of the cutting-off approach is something I noticed and could have done differently. In my case, I would have used it rarely because I believe that if used frequently, it can discourage members of the group from speaking. The majority of participants are vulnerable and susceptible at the beginning of the group (i.e. the forming stage) and at the beginning of each session or opening phase. It was evident from watching the video that this group was still in its infancy. The reason is that the woman who seemed to be hesitant to speak claimed it took her some time to adjust to new individuals in a group like the one she was in. This can only suggest that the group members still needed to bond and get to know one another. Cutting off may not be the ideal approach to utilize extensively at such a key point of the group.
I learned from seeing the group therapist manage the gathering that a group leader must have a good eye and immediately detect individuals who may be having trouble. Typically, these are issues of adaptation and articulation. If this does not occur, it is obvious that a person who is afraid of expressing themselves would be lost as others improve and benefit from the group’s therapeutic components.
If I were conducting a group session, I would use the inner circle outer circle strategy to deal with a troublesome participant (Corey et al., 2018; Rosenthal, 2017). This is a technique in which the therapist selects to seat the members who are not bothersome and interested in therapy in an inner circular seating arrangement while the problematic members are seated in an outer circular seating configuration. They will not be able to distract the other members who are trying to get the most out of the session this way. They still have the option to engage constructively, and if they do, they will be permitted to participate. I would also use strategies like encouraging and setting the tone to elicit group engagement.
Disputes, mistrust, and misunderstandings in the opening process; togetherness in the working phase; and rage in the closure phase are some of what I expect to discover in the various stages of group therapy (Corey et al., 2018). The advantages of group therapy, in my opinion, are learning from others’ experiences and knowing that one is not alone in their pain. This alone aids in the healing and coping process. Dealing with antagonistic involuntary members in the group, on the other side, and the amount of cultural proficiency or multiculturalism required to properly manage individuals from varied cultural contexts are the most significant problems I perceive.
Benefits and Challenges of Group Therapy
Group therapy has many advantages and benefits. However, like any other therapy technique, it also has its own challenges that must be overcome if it is to deliver the outcomes that are expected. Arguably the most undisputed benefit of group therapy is that it enables group participants to benefit from the group curative factors espoused by Irvin Yalom. These curative or therapeutic factors are the ones that facilitate the healing and recovery of the group members. As had been mentioned earlier above they include altruism, catharsis, interpersonal learning, universality, instillation of hope, existential factors, imitative behavior, corrective recapitulation, self-understanding, and imparting information amongst others.
The challenges are equally many in group therapy. The first example that has also been seen in the video is the fact that there will almost invariably be members in the group who do not want to participate but just sit there passively. This especially happens when the member is an involuntary participant who has been compelled by an authority to attend group therapy against their will but for their own benefit. In such circumstances, the group leader or therapist must use tact and skill in making such a member speak and take part, as has been seen in the video. The other challenge is managing different mentally sick individuals with different personalities, backgrounds, and motivations. In such a scenario, there is bound to be conflicts and interpersonal clashes every now and then. This calls for a lot of competence, understanding, and strictness on the part of the therapist. This is also the reason why ground rules have to be set at the beginning of the group.
When it comes to treating mental illnesses, group therapy is a powerful tool. It is a safe substitute for or in addition to medication treatment for certain diseases. However, it is necessary for the psychotherapist or group leader to be knowledgeable about specific procedures that are critical to group therapy’s success. Active listening, encouragement, and eye contact are examples of these behaviors. There are other challenges to be found, which the group therapist must be aware of. They include an unrivaled requirement for multicultural knowledge, awareness, and sensitivity. Every one of the scholarly sources is either an authoritative text produced by acknowledged experts and authorities or a peer-reviewed research article published in a reputable journal.
American Psychiatric Association [APA] (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. Author.
Corey, M.S., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2018). Groups: Processes and practice, 10th ed. Cengage Learning.
Overholser, J.C. (2005). Group psychotherapy and existential concerns: An interview with Irvin Yalom. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 35(2), 185-197. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10879-005-2699-7
Rosenthal, H. (2017). Encyclopedia of Counseling: Master review and tutorial for the National Counselor Examination, State Counseling Exams, and the Counselor Preparation, 4th ed. Routledge.
Wheeler, K. (2020). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse: A how-to guide for evidence-based practice, 3rd ed. Springer Publishing Company, LLC.
Yalom, I.D., & Leszcz, M. (2005). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy, 5th ed. Basic Books.