A therapist is a person who is to develop different personal and communicating skills to succeed in group therapy. It is necessary to be empathic and genuine to allow the client to con-construct the process of the therapy, staying relaxed. On the other hand, many various tasks are requiring much energy and determination from a group therapist. For instance, the successful Here-and-now therapy, which is assumed to be one of the most challenging components of group therapy, demands the ability to foster process-focused interactions. Although self-actualization is crucial for a better understanding of each person, in some cases the leader of the group is to be involved in the process and must direct it to enhance interactions between the members of the group.
Importantly, the proper approach to problematic behavior in group therapy should be considered. Whereas the word “problematic” in psychological therapy is often associated with a client, it is better to take the comprehensive approach and consider the client’s surrounding as well. Yalom (2008) develops the idea that “the problem client rarely exists in a vacuum but is, instead, an amalgam consisting of several components: the client’s psychodynamics, the group’s dynamics and the client’s interactions with co-members and the therapist” (p. 391). Therefore, therapists should take into account their problematic features, which slow down productive interaction with the clients.
Controlling the group could be a challenge for me. To fully understand the group process, it is important to make sure that some members of the group don’t steal the show. Yalom (2008) points out that there are such clients who “may persist in describing, in endless detail, conversation with others” (p. 392). Such people – the monopolists – can disrupt the ability of the group to realize and reflect interactions, undermining the very foundation of the Here-and-now therapy. The group may react to the persistent speeches of the monopolist with absenteeism and discontent (Yalom, 2008, p. 392). It could be difficult for me to stop rising aggression towards the monopolist or any other person in the group. Being rather successful in monitoring and analyzing the process, I find it problematic to address members who are rude to others.
In order to develop interpersonal self-awareness, it is important to consider the basics of the Here-and-now therapy. Speaking up to the monopolist or keeping silent does not seem to be productive since the monopolist will remain anxious and continue interrupting others. If the therapist just ignores the monopolist, group members may feel powerless and vulnerable. Yalom (2008) writes, “the therapist must prevent the elaboration of therapy-obstructing norms and at the same time prevent the monopolistic client from committing social suicide” (p. 393). It is important to remember that the monopolist is affected by the group that can foster such behavior. The reason for that may be the clients’ desire to remain passive observers (Yalom, 2008, p. 393). The therapist should make the clients realize that they are reacting to the Monopolist’s behavior in a particular way. If the therapist succeeds in doing so, the clients will feel the positive effect of the process illumination.
The problems of the monopolist may be solved with the help of other tactics – revealing the deep concerns of the client. As Yalom (2008) suggests, “the monopolist sacrifices the opportunity for therapy to an insatiable need for attention and control” (p. 394). Thus, the therapist should enhance the client’s real openness. It can be a great challenge for some therapists, including myself, but keeping silent is not effective. To be supportive, the therapist should be active enough to encourage both the monopolist and the other clients to be more self-observant. In this case, transparency may be an essential tool for the therapist. While remaining persistent, the therapist should avoid abrupt phrases and motivational interpretations of the client’s behavior. According to Yalom (2008), “the client may often perceive motivational interpretations as accusatory but finds it harder to reject the validity of others’ subjective responses” (p. 395). Therefore, the therapist should balance between inactivity and far-reaching conclusions.
In brief, the problems of psychotherapy should be examined comprehensively. Not only are the clients problematic, but the therapist may fail to provide a successful therapy. It is important for the therapist to remain empathic and patient. Although, active participation in group therapy is needed in some cases, especially in those associated with the monopolist. This case is particularly difficult for me as Client-centred Approach, which I follow the most, is not enough for recognition, examination, and understanding of the Here-and-now therapy process. Furthermore, it is important not to put the blame on one client, who seems to disrupt the process of group therapy. For instance, the other clients can provide the monopolist with non-verbal support to pursue their own goals. In such case, the therapist should balance between inaction and persistent intervention. The measures need to be strong enough to draw attention to the therapist, but they should also be accurate which is essential for providing the thoughtful analysis of the group’s hidden fears and interactions.
Yalom, I. (2008). The theory and practice of the group psychotherapy. New York, NY: Basic books.