It is not uncommon for the trainer to encounter manipulative members within the group. Such individuals tend to steer the group direction to meet their own ends. For example, a group member may try to put the heat on a certain individual that he dislikes, or he may joke or clown if the process is touching close to an area that he does not wish to deal with. He may also try to manipulate the therapist into recognizing him as a favourite son or one whose behaviours and verbalizations in the group are recognized and rewarded.
Some therapists unwittingly fall prey to the manipulator’s plans in that their goal to get the group moving may be supported by the subtle manipulation of one or more members. In some cases, this takes the form of revealing some personal thought, not for the purpose of achieving self-understanding or some other agreed-upon goal, but for the purpose of gaining group or therapist’s attention.
The manipulator make take on many guises, from being particularly helpful in sessions to being particularly hostile. The persona the manipulator adopts is for their purposes alone and has little to do with the therapist at all. This can cause confusion even in the most experienced practitioner because it is difficult to get one’s bearings in this situation.