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Understanding Group Psychotherapy

In the proper sense of the word, researchers refer the emergence of group psychotherapy to 1904-1905, linking this moment with the medical activities of I. V. Vyazemsky (Russia) and J. Pratt (USA).

The first attempt to give a scientific and theoretical explanation of the healing processes in the group should be considered the theory of “animal magnetism” by Franz-Anton Mesmer, an Austrian doctor who practiced in Paris at the end of the 18th century.

The essence of this theory was as follows: there is a certain magnetic fluid, which in case of uneven distribution within the human body generates a disease; the doctor’s task, using special manipulations, harmoniously redistribute fluids and thereby cure the patient {L. Shertok, R. de Saussure, 1991).

Mesmer’s medical activity revealed socio-psychological effects associated with the interpersonal interaction of the doctor and the patient (establishing rapport, suggestion), with the healing influence of the group (often the participants in the fupp session were tied together with a rope for better “fluid circulation” - and indeed a cure the group went better as a result of mental infection) (according to L. Shertokui R. de Sosyur, 1991).

In fact, until the middle of the XIX century. these effects have not been studied by researchers. The Scottish physician J. Braid (IS43) proposed instead of the term “animal magnetism”, which caused so many hot verbal battles, the term “hypnotism”, linking the psychological mechanism of Mesmer’s cure to sleep (in Greek hypnos - sleep). Hypnotic phenomena during this period aroused the most interesting interest of psychiatrists, who interpreted the processes occurring during hypnosis at times in completely different ways.

The discussion between the Salpetriere and the Nancy Psychiatric Schools about the meaning and psychological mechanisms of hypnosis (1880-1890) is well known. In this discussion, victory was left behind the point of view of I. Bernheim, who claimed that a hypnotic state is a narrowing of consciousness as a result of concentration of attention under the influence of suggestion (the leader of the Salpetriere school, J. Sharko, considered the hypnotic state a kind of artificially formed neurosis). Moreover, suggestion is a general psychological phenomenon, manifested in interpersonal relationships; in the form of hetero- and autosuggestion, suggestion leads to an uncritical assimilation of certain beliefs, judgments of feelings (S. Leder, T. Wysokinska-Gasior, 1990).

Although in official medical science the attitude towards hypnosis remained rather skeptical, practitioners actively used it. An example is O. Vet-terstrand, who used hypnosis in group treatment of alcoholics. Among domestic specialists who used hypnosis for psychotherapeutic work with neurosises, mental underdevelopment, and some somatic diseases, V. M. Bekhterev should be mentioned. During the First World War in the German army, hypnosis was used to treat soldiers with symptoms of “military neurosis” caused by hysteria.

The above indicates one of the most important factors that influenced the emergence of group forms of psychological work - psychotherapy, based on the use of hypnotic influences.

Used group methods of psychotherapy and in psychoanalysis. Although 3. Freud himself never even tried to conduct group psychotherapy, a number of his followers actively used psychoanalytic treatment or its options in groups.

First of all, it is necessary to name Alfred Adler, the closest student of Freud, who, unlike his teacher, attached great importance to the social context of personality development and the formation of its values ​​and life goals: it is the group, in his opinion, that influences goals and values ​​and helps modify them. Adler, perhaps, under the influence of his own left-wing beliefs, creates group training centers focused not on elite psychoanalytic work (as was common in Europe), but on the treatment of representatives of the proletariat - patients with alcoholism, neurosis, people with sexual disabilities. He organized children's therapeutic groups in which methods of general discussion and discussion of problems involving parents were applied.

The psychotherapists who used psychoanalysis in the group were L: Wender, P.
Schilder, T. Barrow (he, incidentally, was the first to propose the term “group analysis”), A. Wolf

(in spite of Barrow, he considered the term “group analysis” more correct, he also introduced an alternative group meeting, which was held without a therapist) and others.

In American psychotherapy, psychoanalysts actively used group methods in private medical practice, unlike their European colleagues, who were forced to resort to group psychotherapy only during the Second World War in view of the need to treat a large number of patients with mental disorders. The methods of emotional response in the group began to be actively applied, in addition, a tendency toward the democratization of relations between patients and staff, which led to the concept of a “therapeutic community”, appeared.

Famous practitioner - group psychotherapist S. Slavson organized psychoanalytic groups for children and adolescents; an important idea that determined their functioning was the provision on “group psychotherapy through activity” - treatment through participation in interaction {S. Leder, T. Wysokinska-Gasior, 1990).

Speaking about group psychotherapy, one cannot but recall Jacob Moreno, the legendary person who created psychodrama, proposed the term “group psychotherapy” in 1932, organized the first professional association of group psychotherapists, and founded the first professional journal on group psychotherapy. For good reason, Moreno's followers consider him the father of group psychotherapy (which, however, is not entirely fair, as we could see above - group methods of treating mental disorders arose long before him).

Note that most of the schools of group psychotherapy emerged in line with the main directions of world psychological science - psychoanalysis, behaviorism, gestalt psychology, humanistic psychology - or as a result of a bizarre combination of various theoretical approaches (for example, F. Perls gestalt therapy can be considered a harmonious combination and development of ideas Gestalt psychology and phenomenological approach). Body oriented

Moreno Jacob Leey (1892-1974) - American psychiatrist and psychologist; the creator of such practice-oriented psychological areas as sociometry and psychodrama.

W. Reich's therapy has its roots in classical psychoanalysis, neuro-linguistic programmers - the flesh of the flesh of modern neo-behaviorism, client-centered psychotherapy by C. Rogers is obviously based on the ideas of an existential-humanistic approach. However, academic science for a long time did not take group forms of psychological and psychotherapeutic work seriously, considering fundamental research more important.

In our country, the most developed is the pathogenetic psychotherapy of neurosis, which is based on the principles of the psychology of relations V.N. Myasishchva (Libikh S. S, 1974; Isurina G.L., 1983; Karvasarsky B.D., 1985, 1990; Svyadosh A.M., 1971; Eidemiller, E.G., Justitsky, V.V., 1990, etc.).

The essence of pathogenetic psychotherapy is to change the violated system of the patient’s relationships, to correct inappropriate emotional reactions and behaviors, a necessary prerequisite of which is for the patient to understand the cause-effect relationships between the characteristics of his relationship system and the disease. The result of distortions in the field of social perception resulting from the conflict of self-esteem is the fact that the patient misinterprets the motivation of communication partners, does not adequately respond to emerging interpersonal situations, all his attention is focused not on solving real problems, but on maintaining the idea of ​​significance his "I" in his own eyes, and in the eyes of others. Understanding this aspect of neurotic disorders makes it possible to widely use the pathogenetic method not only in individual psychotherapy, but also in group form.
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