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Forms of practical psychological work Comparative analysis of group and individual forms of psychological work
Sooner or later, every psychologist raises the question of how it is more productive to provide psychological assistance to a person: through individual work or by including him in a training group. Of course, professional preferences will influence the choice. However, to solve this issue, we’ll try to clarify the advantages and disadvantages that have group and individual forms of psychological assistance. In the analysis, we will rely on the advantages of psychocorrectional and psychotherapeutic work in groups that are highlighted by C. Rudestam (1993).
One of the main advantages of psychological work in a group is that group experience counteracts alienation. Such an alienation can occur during individual work with a psychologist - because the client, interacting only with a consultant, often cannot get rid of the feeling that his problem is one of a kind. There, outside the walls of the office, there are happy and carefree people who do not know how hard it is for him alone. Once in a training or psychotherapeutic group, a person avoids unproductive closure in himself with his difficulties and discovers that his problems are not unique, that others experience similar feelings. Very often in a group a person meets people who have such problems, in comparison with which their own are just flowers. And they - these other members of the group - live, act and do not lose optimism. For many people, such a discovery in itself is a powerful psychotherapeutic factor. However, if the life difficulties experienced by a person are actually much more serious than that of other participants, then work in a training group may be less useful for him than individual consultations.
Another important difference between group interaction and dyadic interaction (paired with a psychologist) is that the group is able to reflect society in miniature, making hidden factors such as partner pressure, social influence and conformism obvious. In fact, in the group, a system is modeled — brightly, convexly — of the system of relationships and interconnections that is characteristic of the real life of the participants, and this gives them the opportunity to see and analyze in psychological safety psychological patterns of communication and behavior of other people and themselves that are not obvious in everyday life situations. Indeed, in a group you can, for example, engage in role-playing games and literally recreate the specific life situations of one of the participants. Say, to put the scene of the usual school conflict, which involves several participants, and play various options for its course, to test various behavioral strategies. It is almost impossible to model the complex space of human relations in society with individual psychological work - if only because there are not enough “actors”.
In the group, the training participants have the opportunity to receive feedback and support from people with similar problems. Feedback in communication is understood as the process and result of obtaining information about the states of the communication partner and his perception of the subject's behavior. In the training group, as a rule, non-evaluative feedback is used, that is, such a message coming from the participants, which reflects, first of all, the feelings experienced by a person when perceiving the behavior of another. For example, like this: "When I see how you turn to Sergey, I feel ashamed and offended." No “labels” and any statements like “You know, Vasya, you are a brash and short-sighted person” are not allowed. In real life, not all people have the chance to receive sincere, invaluable feedback. It happens that opinions and judgments about oneself and at work and at home a person has already heard enough. But these categorical judgments, clearly evaluative, biased, biased, cannot be accepted by man - a protective psychological mechanism of denial is triggered. There are situations when in everyday life a person simply does not have the opportunity to hear at least some opinion about himself - there are no people nearby who can be completely trusted. There are no loved ones capable of complete sincerity. Yes, and it is unsafe - not always, and close ones spare us. A situation is created in the training group that allows you to see your reflection in the eyes of other people who perfectly understand the essence of your experiences, since they themselves experience almost the same thing. Each person can be a “mirror” for us, giving us our reflection. Probably there are among these "mirrors" and "curves." But the opportunity that appears in the training group to “look” at a whole gallery of “living mirrors” is, apparently, the most important advantage of group psychological work, not achievable in any other way. When a person interacts only with a psychologist in an individual consultation, he can also receive feedback. But at the same time, he has no choice - only one opinion. In the group, opinions can be expressed very different, and here a person can decide which feedback to agree with and which to reject.
When receiving psychological assistance through a group, a person can learn new skills, experiment with different styles of relationships among equal partners. If in real life such experimentation is always associated with the risk of misunderstanding, rejection and even punishment, then training groups act as a kind of “psychological training ground” where you can try to behave differently than usual, “try on” new behaviors, learn new ways treat yourself and people - and all this in an atmosphere of benevolence, acceptance and support.
The group provides an opportunity to “rehearse behavior” in certain situations in order to further transfer the best of the options found in their real life. In the case of individual work, “experimenting” with styles of relationships consists only in speaking and discussing with a psychologist the possible consequences of their transfer to reality. But preliminary testing in a circle of different types of people (which is possible in the training group) does not occur.
In the group, participants can identify themselves with others, “play” the role of another person to better understand him and themselves and to get acquainted with new effective behaviors used by someone. As a result of identification, that is, identifying oneself with another person, consciously likening oneself to him, an emotional connection, empathy, empathy arise. There is no doubt the importance of these experiences in terms of promoting personal growth and the development of self-awareness. The members of the group are not “disciples of the leader,” they learn from each other how to overcome difficulties, effective communication and interaction skills, adopt values and views if they consider them acceptable for themselves. The identification mechanism, which, as is known, is one of the mechanisms of the spontaneous development of personality, becomes a reliable support in the group for changes that occur with people. Working face-to-face with a psychologist, of course, also includes identification. However, here we again find the same drawback: there is no one else to identify with the client except the psychologist, but is the personality of the psychologist always so happy with the client? In the group, however, the personalities are different, and each one can find something with which to identify.
Group interaction often creates emotional stress, which helps clarify everyone’s psychological problems. This effect does not occur with individual psychocorrectional and psychotherapeutic work - in any case, to the extent that it can be detected during the training work. Creating additional difficulties and difficulties for the facilitator, psychological stress in the group can (and should) play a constructive role, fuel the energy of fupp processes. The leader’s task is to prevent tension from getting out of control and completely destroy relations in the group. Productive conflicts help clarify the relationship between people, teach them to express genuine feelings, help to find innovative ways of interaction, set the dynamics of fuppovogo development. In individual psychological work, conflicts between the psychologist and the client are usually regarded as a destructive phenomenon or interpreted from a psychoanalytic perspective as a transfer effect.
The group, apparently, to a greater extent than individual counseling, facilitates the processes of self-disclosure, self-examination and self-knowledge. Such a statement is connected with the fact that other than through other people, these processes are fully impossible. Opening oneself to others and opening oneself to oneself allows one to understand oneself, change oneself and increase self-confidence. Work in the training opens up opportunities for the group member that are probably inaccessible to him in other conditions: interacting in specially created conditions with other people, a person freely communicates with meanings and meanings and thereby liberates his intellectual resources. He expands the field of his consciousness, strengthens faith in his own strengths, develops creative abilities, talent for communication, lays the ethical and moral foundations of practical behavior.
As with actualization in real life, a person in training follows the path of personal discoveries - he makes self-discovery. Such self-discovery generates self-discovery - for others. In order for a person to be able to reveal himself to others, he must first open himself to himself - as he is in his existential essence. Of course, such self-discovery is still superficial and unclear. Interaction with others allows him to clarify the vague image of his self. In the case of individual work with a psychologist, this process can be more extended in time.
And finally, a comparison of group and individual forms of psychological work would be incomplete without resorting to the economic aspect. If a psychologist conducts private practice, then psychological help through a group is more beneficial for him - both in time and in total payment. It is important that the group form is preferable to the clients: the participants are cheaper to work in training than individual therapy (and for many, the training work is much more effective).
Most psychotherapists and psychologists agree that practically all people who do not suffer from severe mental disorders can become participants in the training. At the same time, we note that there are people who are not at all disposed to work in fup-pe. Let us pay attention to the question of who should not be included in the training and for whom individual psychological assistance is more preferable. According to a number of experts, people with very high anxiety, overly emotional, capable of strong manifestations of affectiveness, people with low self-esteem (with the exception of special self-confidence training), and conflicting personalities are not suitable for participating in fupp work. Most likely, pronounced introverts will feel uncomfortable in the fupp.
With all people with these characteristics, it is likely that individual psychological work will be more effective.
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