The therapist

Training and qualifications

The therapist is responsible to the group, and to the institution in which it is set, for achieving and maintaining professional competence, and he or she should have a level of training appropriate to the task. A formal qualification in psychotherapy is the ideal training. This will have included theory, personal therapy for the therapist, and clinical supervision. Mental health professionals from all disciplines make an active contribution to a rich and diverse service with the training requirements of theory and supervision arranged at their workplace. The opportunity to run a group is provided in most psychiatric and psychology training programmes. Many centres and training institutions offer training in group methods, and several are wholly committed to the training of group therapists who have their own professional associations in the United Kingdom and internationally, some of which are recognized by the National Health Service and other employing bodies. Private once- or twice-weekly analytic groups are now regarded by many mental health professionals as the therapy of choice for their personal development.

Making a beginning

The establishment of a group begins as a management task in the definition of its goals, recruitment of its members, protection of its setting, venue, and timetable, and the maintenance of its ongoing life. It evolves as a therapeutic task in which the therapist is responsible for maintaining a therapeutic attitude to the individual members and to the group as a whole. Powerful affects and attitudes will be directed towards the therapist, which he or she will monitor and transform into verbal and non-verbal therapeutic responses (Table...,!).

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Table 1 Requirements for therapeutic competence

The therapeutic rationale will allow the therapist to be discriminating and consistent about interventions of various kinds during the life of the group. What follows is an orientation, based on the dynamic elements of structure, process, and content, to the three main models used in the United Kingdom.

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