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Rickman, J. (1957). XIX. The Factor of Number in Individual and Group Dynamics (1950). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):165-169.

(1957). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):165-169

XIX. The Factor of Number in Individual and Group Dynamics (1950) Book Information Previous Up Next

John Rickman, M.D.

The term ‘Group-Therapy’ can have two meanings, and it is well to keep the distinction clearly in mind. It can refer to the treatment of a number of individuals assembled for therapeutic sessions, or it can refer to a planned endeavour to discover (and so make accessible to the understanding, and thus control) the forces which operate in the participating group.

The first is primarily a therapy of individuals (group behaviour and its study being a secondary but important consideration); the second is primarily a therapy of a group (individual behaviour and its study being a secondary but important consideration). These two may blend.

The first is found in several forms which we can name according to where the dynamic emphasis is laid. One kind is based on general explanations of the nature of neurotic trouble; this may be called didactic group therapy. The physician may, however, be less concerned with explanation and more interested in giving comfort; this may be called reassurance group therapy. The comfort and companionship may be carried far, that is, the aim may be to produce such a degree of happiness in the group as to deserve the name companionate group therapy; or the technique may be that of catharsis by a sort of public confessional in which case we may speak of it as confessional group therapy (without confusion with the other and older use of the word ‘confessional’). There is another kind of group therapy in which transference interpretations are given of the behaviour of individuals and by inference of the group, called analytical group therapy.


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