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Whitmont, E.C. (1964). Group Therapy and Analytical Psychology. J. Anal. Psychol., 9(1):1-22.

(1964). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 9(1):1-22

Group Therapy and Analytical Psychology

Edward C. Whitmont


THIS paper attempts to show that group analysis is a specific therapeutic modality, which could be of great value to Jungians. We would use it not as a short-cut therapy; indeed it does not necessarily shorten therapy at all. Neither is it a form of mass analysis. Group analysis complements and amplifies our accustomed individual therapy by adding a “group laboratory” in which certain experiences become possible that individual analysis cannot convey to the same degree. The reality experience and reality testing of attempts at relationship, and the experience of the “group archetype”, lead under simultaneous analytic scrutiny to a working out of the group transference.

The prejudice against group therapy prevalent among analysts, Jungians especially, was also shared by myself, at first. My decision to give group analysis a try and see how it actually could operate was motivated partly by requests and inquiries from patients (notably those of Quaker orientation); but my primary consideration was theoretical: the great religions always had given special value to group worship as a necessary complement to the individual encounter with the numinous.

Thus it seemed justified to assume that a specific therapeutic dimension, an archetypal quality sui generis, might be contained in the group experience, which would not be accessible to the same degree in merely individual therapy. If this were so, the “group archetype” (if we may now tentatively use a term to be clarified later) could cause trouble when disregarded, but like every other archetype would be of constructive help when adequately confronted and related to. I believe that my experience appears to support the factualness of this thesis. Here, then, is a problem that Jungians especially cannot afford to bypass. Clarification of this archetypal aspect of group experience has not been attempted in the few previous contributions to group therapy in Jungian literature. Hobson's presentation (1959) mostly re-states and sums up some of the conventional views on group therapy. Martin (1955) lacks any therapeutic—or for that matter even analytical—technique.

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