chapter  15
12 Pages

Group psychotherapy: the role of the therapist

ByJOHN WOODS, KATIE ARGENT

Group therapy has been a neglected area of child and adolescent psychotherapy. One important reason for this is the high degree of uncertainty in the role of the therapist. Much goes on for young people in groups, in the way of education and socialisation. Such groups are usually structured in terms of their activities, and have an appointed authority, teacher, youth leader or so on. Without such leadership and control the likelihood is that a given collection of young people will regress to a sort of anomie; the group tends to disintegrate, or may form a gang that ®nds an identity in antisocial behaviour, appointing its own leader who takes strength from opposition to adult authority. As therapists we do not usually welcome the role of manager or controller of behaviour. But non-directiveness may well be colluding with destructiveness. The group is a powerful force, for good or for ill, and it is often hard for psychodynamic work to ®nd a place.