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Irvin Yalom
Theory and Practice and Group Psychotherapy

"Without exception, patients enter group therapy with the history of a highly unsatisfactory experience in their first and most important group—their primary family [the traditional home]."  (Irvin Yalom,  Theory and Practice and Group Psychotherapy)

"What better way to help the patient [the child/the student] recapture the past than to allow him to re-experience and reenact ancient feelings toward parents in his current relationship to the therapist [to the facilitator]? The therapist [the facilitator] is the living personification of all parental images [takes the place of the parent].  Group therapists [facilitators] refuse to fill the traditional authority role: they do not lead in the ordinary manner, they do not provide answers and solutions, they urge the group [the children/the students] to explore and to employ its own resources. The group [the children/the students] [must] feel free to confront the therapist [the facilitator], who must not only permit, but encourage, such confrontation. He [the child/the student] reenacts early family scripts in the group and, if therapy is successful, is able to experiment with new behavior, to break free from the locked family role he once occupied. … the patient [the child/the student] changes the past by reconstituting it."  (Irvin Yalom,  Theory and Practice and Group Psychotherapy)

In the group not only must the individual strive for autonomy but the leader must be willing to allow him to do so. … an individual's behavior cannot be fully understood without an appreciation of his environmental press.  …one member's behavior is not understandable out of context of the entire group. …there is no more important issue than the interrelationship of the group members.  … few individuals, as Asch has shown, can maintain their objectivity in the face of apparent group unanimity; and the individual rejects critical feelings toward the group at this time to avoid a state of cognitive dissonance.  To question the value or activities of the group, would be to thrust himself into a state of dissonance.  Long cherished but self-defeating beliefs and attitudes may waver and decompose in the face of a dissenting majority. One of the most difficult patients for me to work with in groups is the individual who employs fundamentalist religious views in the service of denial. The ‘third force' in psychology … which emphasized a holistic, humanistic concept of the person, provided impetus and form to the encounter group … The therapist assists the patient to clarify the nature of the imagined danger and then … to detoxify, to disconfirm the reality of this danger. By shifting the group's attention from ‘then-and-there' to ‘here-and-now' material, he performs a service to the group … focusing the group upon itself.  Members must develop a feeling of mutual trust and respect and must come to value the group as an important means of meeting their personal needs. Once a member realizes that others accept him and are trying to understand him, then he finds it less necessary to hold rigidly to his own beliefs; and he may be willing to explore previously denied aspects of himself.  Patients should be encouraged to take risks in the group; such behavior change results in positive feedback and reinforcement and encourages further risk-taking.  Members learn about the impact of their behavior on the feelings of other members. …a patient might, with further change, outgrow … his spouse … unless concomitant changes occur in the spouse.  (Irvin Yalom,  Theory and Practice and Group Psychotherapy)

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