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The thought of the group between resources and criticism in higher education



We know the importance of the group as a tool in the learning process (Gaudet et al., 2010; Kagan, 1989) and as a device capable of ensuring the acquisition of reflexivity (Schön, 1993) in socially situated, relational and collective processes (Reynolds and Vince, 2004). Practices such as cooperative learning and peer education, through discourse, confrontation, negotiation and dialogic processes structure the meanings of knowledge and increase resources in terms of acquisition of skills (outcome). However, in education, studies which focus on the “subject group” with the monitoring and evaluation of group processes, still appear few. Transformative factors such as cohesiveness (Yalom, 1970), mirroring (Foulkes, 1964; 1975), interpersonal learning and universalisation, which appear to be relevant in therapeutic contexts, should be reconsidered with specific “variants” in training contexts; this is possible in some frameworks which consider the “thought of the group” as generated by an intersubjective construction of knowledge which is always anchored to a relationship. We believe that rather than “the group tout court”, there are some conditions (i.e. the setting) which carry transformative instances, so we aim to show some specificity of the group-thinking in learning contexts. Students of psychology have analysed some clinical cases individually and in small groups of work; subsequently they reflected on them through some reports, alternating the individual approach to that of the group. The texts, divided into “individual narratives” and “narratives of group”, were analyzed with the T-LAB software (Lancia, 2004). A questionnaire constructed ad hoc investigated the representation of students of the potential and the criticism learning in group compared with the individual learning. The comparative analysis between the individual and grouppal reports revealed the use of different languages, allowing us to infer the presence of a thought of group characterized by some specificity. Promoting the reflexivity, “in group”, on both the contents and the dynamics, makes it possible to bring in the foreground what, remaining in the background, sometimes gives resistances to transformative process (Pichon Rivière, 1971).
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This book first appeared in 1970 and has gone into two further editions, one in 1975 and this one in 1985. Yalom is also the author of Existential Psychotherapy (1980), In-patient Group Psychotherapy (1983), the co-author with Lieberman of Encounter Groups: First Facts (1973) and with Elkin of Every Day Gets a Little Closer: A Twice-Told Therapy (1974) (which recounts the course of therapy from the patient's and the therapist's viewpoint). The present book is the central work of the set and seems to me the most substantial. It is also one of the most readable of his works because of its straightforward style and the liberal use of clinical examples.
I gruppi hanno una sintassi propria, spesso adottano un pensiero ed un linguaggio per immagini, un discorso riconducibile al mito ed al sogno. Ogni gruppo ha poi una specifica identità, una storia che origina in un contesto che ne definisce confini, modalità espressive ed operative, in termini reali ed in termini di fantasie. Il lavoro con i gruppi richiede dunque coordinate nuove e composite per osservare, rappresentare e quindi ri-narrare i processi relazionali. Questo volume parte allora dall’analisi delle principali teorie psicodinamiche di gruppo per poi interrogarsi sull’uso delle narrazione e della rappresentazione, come modelli organizzatori della realtà psichica, attraversando livelli mentali, intersoggettivi, inter-istituzionali. La riflessione si sposta dal pensiero per immagini al linguaggio del sogno, dai teatri interni alla messa in scena delle relazioni nei gruppi clinici e formativi. Vengono esaminati alcuni concetti chiave di teoria della tecnica, sistemi di rappresentazione della metodologia psicodinamica: transfert/controtransfert, modello di campo, interpretazione, setting, osservazione/resoconto. Si evidenzia la nascita di tali concetti in ambito psicoanalitico duale, l’evoluzione e l’applicazione nella psicoanalisi di gruppo. In particolare viene presentata una proposta sull’uso della narrazione e della rappresentazione come dimensioni costitutive dell’interevento e delle metodologie psicodinamiche di gruppo. La descrizione di esperienze in vari contesti ne fornisce un’esemplificazione operativa: il lavoro nella scuola con insegnanti e con adolescenti, i gruppi di counselling/sostegno alla genitorialità, il gruppo esperenziale nella formazione dello psicologo. Una appendice finale raccoglie alcune tecniche di narrazione e rappresentazione, che affiancate dalla precedente riflessione sui processi gruppali e sulla specificità dei contesti in cui nascono le prassi cliniche e formative, può essere un accompagnamento al lavoro di psicologi, psicoterapeuti, ma anche una lettura utile per formatori, insegnanti e operatori del sociale.
For the first time the concepts of the matrix and the mentalizing-model are brought together especially under the new insights of the primary emotional system. Empirical studies are introduced to show that the greater part of borderline patients benefit from mentalization based group therapy but a minor part does not. The reasons for that will be discussed.
In this paper the author comments on the contribution by António P. Ribeiro and Miguel M. Gonçalves (in this journal) that offer a creative and unique perspective on maintenance and transformation of problematic self-narrative. From here the author contributes to the topic through the exploration of some issues: a) the relation, in the dialogical process of self-narrative construction, between semiotic processes that give voice to the semantic opposition and semiotic processes that give voice to the contradictory; b) the relation between sameness and ipseity in the self-narrative process; c) the role of a pathemic axis of meaning in the generation process of self-narratives. A final reflection is done on narrative as a device of clinical intervention in which the author makes a distinction between methods based on the recognition and extension of variability and methods based on the recognition of permanency so to get to variability.
This paper addresses a specific aspect of pathological mental functioning in so-called borderline patients. Analytic work with a borderline man is presented to show that an inhibition of, and defences against, the contemplation of one's own and others' mental states may be a hallmark of the resistance encountered in a number of such patients. It is claimed that the analysis of transference and countertransference is a crucial therapeutic factor in tackling this source of resistance. In doing this, the paper draws upon a topical notion from philosophy of mind and recent ideas from child development studies which help to clarify psychoanalytic ideas concerning the nature of the pathology of internal object relations underlying feelings of emptiness and social alienation in borderline functioning.
This is a review of theoretical, empirical, and clinical research on therapeutic factors (TFs) in group psychotherapy covering the period 1955 to 1979. Therapeutic factors are processes that contribute to improvement in the patient's condition; they are different from conditions for change and from techniques. The following TFs are examined: self-disclosure, interaction, acceptance (cohesiveness), insight, catharsis, guidance, altruism, vicarious learning, instillation of hope, and an existential factor. Criteria for adequate experimental design in group research are proposed. About 40% of the works reviewed contain empirical studies; the quality of these studies is variable both conceptually and methodologically. It is difficult to assess the extent to which clinical practice has actually been influenced by this work on TFs.