I have now finished my 16 weeks of group process culminating in a weekend residential retreat in the Kent countryside. For the past 16 weeks I have been part of a group process on my course involving weekly unstructured 90 minutes sessions. What started off with impatience on my part on the apparent slowness of the process quickly became fascinating as I began to see the impact of projections, transference and identification. Being unstructured meant everything that happened in the group had a significance of some value. Seating configuration is also very important and some groups operate a spiral formation although ours was one circle.
We had been split into three groups for the 16 weeks but we came together as one group at the residential. The smaller group had seemed big at the time but having over 50 students sitting in one circle with no agenda for the whole weekend really felt big. I processed a lot of internal stuff and found myself being able to sit with my internal dialogue more easily. In groups I am usually quite vocal and feel the need to speak but this time I held my thoughts to myself until I felt I could witness my own reactions. Going for walks in the beautiful grounds facilitated that reflective practice.
The blueprint for how we operate in groups is our experience from being in a family
I would recommend group process work as you will invariably find out a great deal about yourself. The blueprint for how we operate in groups is our experience from being in a family. That is effectively our first group. Examining your family background can be challenging as well as exciting. It can be challenging in that an examination of your family background can throw up projections in groups but getting to grips with your personal history can be very rewarding. Therapy takes place by the group not the facilitator. In fact, the best functioning groups make the job of group facilitator redundant.
It is interesting to note the current debates in the transpersonal movement pertaining to participatory consciousness to do with the whole. Some in the community are asking, for instance, if psychotherapy can create a narcissistic split. Sometimes I find that I can be concentrating on my own individual experience at the expense of the group experience. I like what my group work facilitator said: that it is sometimes better to engage with our own material in groups and see where that takes us. I believe I can be ‘psychotherapeutically correct’ a lot of the time whereas I could be more willing to share my shadow material and see what transpires. Maybe it would be more fruitful if we explored our shadow material more often in groups instead of saying “oh sorry that is my stuff” when we have encounters with others. Is it my stuff? How do I know?
In my own journey there is a constant conversation of materialisation of spirit versus spiritualisation of matter in my life. The ongoing struggle is to stay present with my own conscious processes and not drift off into attachment seeking behaviours. However, I am now tired. It feels very much time for a breather and to enjoy the summer break. I have also finished my essay on early life theory and how this relates to integrative psychotherapy. More about that in a subsequent post.
See also my previous post on group process.