Acting Out or Hostile Behaviour
The acting out group member is perhaps as much of a concern to the beginning therapist as the discipline problem is to the student teacher. Often the behaviour erupts suddenly and catches both the therapist and the group unaware. Acting out behaviour can also be observed in patterns of lateness, absences, alcoholic indulgences, and overt forms of hostility between members. In some cases, the disruptive member can actually be a benefit in that such members tend to bring certain problems to the conscious attention of the other members.
A frequent cause of acting-out behaviour is the negative feelings individuals have toward the therapist that cannot be expressed. It is important, therefore that the therapist not react defensively to the hostility of the members, since this encourages further acting out.
No single solution is available for dealing with disruptive persons. The therapist might discuss the disturbing individual’s role in the group and perhaps what other members think of him. The extremely agitated person may be allowed to take a break until the session is over and engage in a conference with the therapist at a break.
Finally, the person who is hostile or acting out, can be asked to leave. If you do ask someone to leave a session, take them outside the therapy room, and don’t let them back in when you’re done. If you have ejected a client, do not allow them to talk to other clients at the session. Remember that you have the absolute right and responsibility to remove people who you don’t want in the session.