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group psychotherapy

Introduction

group psychotherapy, a means of changing behavior and emotional patterns, based on the premise that much of human behavior and feeling involves the individual's adaptation and response to other people. It is a process carried out in formally organized groups of three or more individuals who seek change, whether their problem is alcoholism, overeating, or poor social skills. The composition of a group may be heterogenous or homogeneous with reference to the age of the members or the type of problem. The therapist may be directive or nondirective, allowing the group to set their own agenda for discussion. The group becomes a "sample" of the outside world, reproducing conditions of interpersonal relationships; its members jointly participate in observing personal motivation and styles of interaction. They also participate in attempting new behaviors and dealing with the consequences of such behaviors, with the intended result that they will eventually be able to employ these behavior patterns outside the group. In observing the totality of the events that take place in group therapy, the process by which elements of personality are developed in each member is also studied.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Psychology and Psychiatry


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