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Mollon, P. (1987). The Group as a Whole. Brit. J. Psychother., 3(4):389-390.

(1987). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(4):389-390

The Group as a Whole

Phil Mollon

I would like to comment on the paper in the summer issue by Fielding and Llewellyn on ‘Applying the Social Psychology of Groups in Clinical Settings’ (The Journal Vol. 2(4), pp. 281-291). I was surprised to see this paper published in the Journal for it seems to me to display both ignorance and arrogance. The authors repeatedly assert that most group psychotherapists do not take account of group level phenomena but work purely at an individualistic level - indeed this assertion appears to be the whole basis and justification for their argument. However it is obviously a claim that is patently untrue of group therapists with a training in group therapy. The authors do acknowledge that therapists in the Foulkes and Bion traditions take account of group phenomena but they imply that these are minority approaches - they also confuse these two quite different traditions into something they inaccurately term ‘The Tavistock School’. Since the authors appear to have little awareness of the practice of group therapy, I am concerned that this paper may reflect an unfortunate tendency within clinical psychology for some with little or no training in psychotherapy to believe they can speak with authority about it - I fear that the publishing of this paper in its present form may encourage such delusions! Whilst clearly the paper does have something valuable to say about the potential contribution of social psychology, and whilst it is important to bring together perspectives from a variety of academic and clinical disciplines, I think the authors could have been helped to make a more informed contribution. I wonder if in this instance your assessors were a little over-generous.

Yours sincerely

Phil Mollon

[The paper in question (Fielding and Llewellyn, Vol. 2(4), 1986) was accepted because of the interest to readers, not in its clinical or theoretical aspects so much as the background of academic research that it alludes to. In fact we get fewer contributions from psychotherapy researchers than we would like. It is an area of interest that is less known than it should be by the psychotherapist in practice. It may also be true that clinical aspects of psychotherapy are not as well known by researchers as they should be. This Journal could enhance communication between these two groups interested in psychotherapy. Contributions on the relation between practice and research would be welcomed with interest by the editors-Ed.]

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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