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Glatzer, H.T. (1953). Handling Transference Resistance in Group Therapy. Psychoanal. Rev., 40(1):36-43.

(1953). Psychoanalytic Review, 40(1):36-43

Handling Transference Resistance in Group Therapy

Henriette T. Glatzer

In discussing transference and resistance, Freud indicated that any investigation using transference and resistance as a starting point could be called psychoanalysis even if the results differed from his own. (2) From a survey of literature on group therapy and from my own experience with groups, I have found that transference and resistance are two of the most valuable tools in group therapy. It is necessary, however, in the group situation, as it is in individual therapy, to handle the transference resistance of each individual member in order to promote and therapeutically control group dynamics.

Freud also observed in his book on Group Psychology (3) that when a man is part of a group, his unconscious drives are likely to dominate his conscious ones and he will tend in that situation to throw off his repressions more readily. The group state then, like the analytic one, seems to promote transference by creating conditions where the derivatives of the repressed are able to come out more easily. But, at the same time that these emotional needs make their appearance, a resistance is operative against them. (1) This resistance distorts the true connections and has to be broken into constantly in group therapy if catharsis is to take place. The group therapy situation is a little less artificial than individual therapy in that it gives the patient a chance to relive his infantile conflicts with more than one person. It supplies not only a parental figure, but siblings. The group therapy condition then, facilitates the development of transferences, both positive and negative to other people (who are immediately present) which can be handled therapeutically, on the spot as it were, by the therapist. Many group therapists are in agreement that because there is a more realistic reliving of the family drama in group therapy, the positive transference is hastened and this in turn helps resolve the initial resistance to being patients. The group strengthens the patient's ego for she identifies with it, and has support against the therapist who comes to symbolize authority.

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