Sometimes I think that only a select few of us—members of Division 49, for example— really understand groups and group approaches to treatment. Last week in class a student, and a particularly bright one at that, looked puzzled when I spoke about group psychotherapy: Is that a method used to treat crazy groups, he asked? Later that same week I was meeting with a professor in the school of business and I mentioned group psychotherapy. He was equally bewildered. Is that a team-building intervention for poorly functioning groups, he suggested? Then, while reading the brand-new APA Dictionary of Psychology (2007) I ran across this definition of psychotherapy (p. 757): “any psychological service provided by a trained professional” used to treat “an individual, family, or group (see Group Psychotherapy).” I was pleased to see that groups were listed, but the definition was not quite right. Group therapists are mindful of the interpersonal processes that operate within the group, but rarely are they focused on treating the group per se; they seek to promote the adjustment of the individuals but not the group itself.

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Copyright © 2007 Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy. This article first appeared in The Group Psychologist 17:2 (2007), 6.

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