There may be individuals in the group who perform in socially proper ways in the group and are still disruptive. Members who fill this category are labelled do-gooders. A do-gooder’s behaviour is usually evident through his desire to give advice to others, to help members plan what they should do, or through exaggerated assistance in helping another member or the therapist to achieve. Such do-gooders may be repeating manipulative behaviour patterns that led them to earlier difficulties in life, or so that they may become gods to the receivers of such help, who then fail to fulfil the desires of the do-gooder.
In a sense, all the behaviours listed in this article can be considered forms of individual resistance. The silent member, the member who singles out a scapegoat, the do-gooder and others may, in one way or another be attempting to impede the group’s progress because of personal fears that they will be subjected to unpleasant experiences in the group.
As might be expected, resistance to personal exploration is most common during early sessions where cohesiveness and trust are minimal. The group experience may be novel to most who participate and the fear of the unknown is to be expected. As the group develops and trust and cohesiveness emerge, the initial fears tend to dissipate and resistance will become less of a problem. The important thing for the therapist to remember is that early and sharp probing will tend to increase resistance and perhaps destroy the group. Groups need time to develop and grow, and unnecessary haste can destroy the group and cause individual harm.
There is a leadership-by-default technique in which the therapistÂ responds to initial tensions in the group by turning back questions. Since in his thinking, initial questions are authority-ridden and reflect members’ wishes to be led, the trainer simply invites the speaker to give him his own answer in a warm but firm reply–“let me hear what you think about this.” This approach is effective in helping group members become aware that they must handle their own problems.
Therapists can employ a number of resistance-reducing techniques that have been found useful:
Assurance: The therapistÂ expresses approval or agreement to the group or to an individual member. The approval is usually intended to encourage the group of individual member.
Humour: The therapist eases the tension with a humorous remark. This may be done when, in the therapist’s opinion, the group tension is too high for optimal functioning.
Objective Materials: The therapistÂ uses material- a story or a poem–to promote discussion. This technique is probably more effective with children’s groups.
Personal Reference: Personal references are a means for the therapist to insert his own personality into the group–“I feel that…” “I think that…”, “It seems to me…”
Non personal Anecdote: The use of the experience of another person to illustrate a point.
Member Responses as Springboards: The therapist follows a group member’s lead and uses it to involve other group members in the discussion. “Joan says she’s still not sure what’ we’re doing here. I wonder if others are unsure too?”
Like other techniques, none of these produce instant magic. Yet if timed properly, they are useful during the early stages of group life.