Group Therapy

The group is a social microcosmos

The experience in the group can be a powerful motor for change. The analytic group provides a social microcosm which is nothing like you can experience in everyday life. The renowned psychoanalyst Prof. Felix de Mendelssohn suggested that patients who came to group therapy benefited much more than those who came only to individual therapy because the group triggers emotions that can remain hidden in the individual setting. In some cases, combination of group and individual settings would be the best option.

Many believe that the future of psychotherapy is in group therapy. This is because the group has several advantages compared to individual therapy:

  • The group provides social microcosm where personal problems can be worked through in the group
  • The Feedback comes from multiple people and not only from one therapist
  • The group provides realm to support others and to develop empathy and self-awareness
  • Increasing resilience and stress tolerance in group settings
  • The group promote self-awareness to the impact that we make on others
  • The group promotes development of social skills and altruism
  • In the group, it is possible to become aware of the universality of our problems - you are not alone.

My training in analytical group therapy is done at the ÖAGG - Österreichischer Arbeitskreis für Gruppentherapie und Gruppendynamik (Austrian Association for Group Therapy and Group Dynamic), where I currently in the status of Psychotherapist in Training under Supervision.

The experience of the group can be intimidating in the beginning, especially for those who suffer, for example, from social anxieties. But the “here-and-now” of the group provides a safe playground where different social patterns can come to the surface and be brought to the attention of the group members. This is not always possible in the individual settings, where the therapy is dependent on the material brought by the client, who is often not aware of the ways in which he affects the people around him, and therefore he can bring only part of the truth to the therapy. The group provides a much richer social microcosm to work in, and after overcoming the understandable anxieties in the beginning, the potential to work on your core issues is tremendous.

The group is really nothing like anything you have experienced before. Participants gradually become emotionally engaged with other members of the group, in depth that has no parallel in other life situations. The lack of structure can be confusing because we are so habituated today to be told what to do and say, that the freedom to say whatever comes to mind triggers confusion and anxieties, but that’s exactly where the inner adventure begins. Defensive patterns are pointed out and explored, so that they can be understood. Participants move between actual experience and meta-communication about the experience. In this way, they gain not only correcting emotional experience but also cognitive understanding about the deeper dynamics that move them and affect others in social interactions.

The group provides the opportunity for “psychological rebirth”. The “here-and-now” of the group is much more important than the history of the members. The most important relationships are those that develop inside the group and not past ones. It is who you are that matters and not what you had done before joining the group. Members bring their habitual patterns of behavior and feelings, and that is the only material that is required for the work done in the group. After the “psychological rebirth”, members can go on with their lives, creating much more fulfilling relationships and with better understanding of their own feelings and the impact that they make on other people.