chapter  8
25 Pages

The large group in training

WithA. C. Robin Skynner

This chapter presents some examples of large groups conducted in the group-analytic tradition. For several years, the Institute of Group Analysis has run an introductory course in group work for psychiatric staff of different disciplines and levels of experience, in which the membership is deliberately widened through including professionals from related fields, such as sociologists, priests, etc. The discussion was mostly concerned with structure - seating, timing, lateness and so on, and it demonstrated anxieties over losing control for fear of chaos and destructive conflict. Interventions by the leaders were welcomed since they structured and polarised the group temporarily, like a magnet giving a pattern to scattered iron filings. A crucial interchange took place between two group leaders; one, a follower of classical psychoanalytic ideas and techniques, appearing to represent reason, intellectual control, and a necessity for verbal, personal communication to allay the anxiety stimulated by the large group.