I thought I’d explain a bit about the idea of group. In a psycho dynamic group, the main idea is not to provide a supportive space for healing. That idea is appealing, but that’s not what this type of group is for. The theory is that a lot of our troubles are caused by, or cause, disturbances with how we relate to other people. Just by being in a group, we will naturally recreate all the problems we have with people in our daily life. If we express that, and interact honestly and openly, group is supposed to offer a chance to ‘work on it’ – that is, slow it down, examine it, talk about it, and heal it.
It’s not about ‘good communication’ or any of a number of other really positive things. It’s about letting our problems be triggered and trying to work through them. Or about feeling all kinds of things, being free to express that and seeing what the consequences are.
That’s what I think anyway. In my group, this didn’t seem to be clear, so people tended to think problems were a problem. That is, someone expressing something negative was perhaps being unkind or unsupportive, and so that person would be (mildly) attacked, and they would then withdraw.
Not good. That’s how I saw what was happening.
I’m never sure that I’m seeing clearly though, so I had a hard time figuring out what was going on, even though Ron was there to discuss it with. Ron always encouraged me to express anything negative in group. However, it seemed to me that he then didn’t provide much support to whoever was trying to do this. Like, ahem, myself.
However, I easily feel attacked and in danger. So maybe I needed a thicker skin and more determination to keep going. I just didn’t have it.
I don’t think most people in the group had this idea about it, so their responses make sense. It all depends what you think the group is for. If it’s for sensitive sharing and growing in a safe space, then confronting other people or complaining is in fact wrong, or at least unhelpful. I always thought Ron was trying to do everything at once, so things got confused. Plus he didn’t really lay out his vision of group.
I wish he’d said how he sees the group failing much earlier, when there would still have been a proper chance for us to take stock, ask questions, and maybe change direction. But on the other hand, he seems to think it’s the ‘spirit’ of the group that’s the problem. In which case, trying harder wouldn’t help.
It makes sense that if a majority (or all) of the people are too inhibited, maybe for the best of reasons, to honestly share how they feel, the group cannot work. There’s nothing for people to rub up against or react to. In our group gloom sets in and everyone sits there in silence. Or, in my case, I sit and get more and more panicky, until I leave.
I’ve always thought of it as too much ‘niceness’. We’re so nice, nothing can be dealt with or discussed.
I wish I could experience a group that was ‘working’ so I could see what it’s like. For me it’s all theoretical right now.