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Individual therapy in a group setting

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This form of group therapy is the least like support groups. It seeks to blend the positive effects of a group setting with the higher level of control and direction possible in individual therapy. It also seeks to avoid the negative effects often arising in groups (individual members projecting on one another, members acting as therapist or the entire group heading down paths that are therapuetically less efficient or remaining stuck).

The therapist(s) work one-on-one with a single client at a time, but in the presence of the entire group. Selection can be in the form of "going around the circle" or asking "Who would like to go next?"

The therapist(s) stop any comments by a group member that would constitute offering of advice, 'psychologizing', inappropriate or disrespectful comments.

In many group settings, it is as if the group is the client. Group dynamics become the primary process. When doing individual therapy in a group setting the therapist focuses on one client at a time limiting how other clients participate. The therapist is the primary change agent.

A difficulty is achieving the balance between client self-direction and self-intiation and therapist control. That is, between the extremes of over-control or lecturing by the therapist and the opposite where a leaderless group becomes run-away heading in unhelpful directions.

This methodology will vary in description and practice depending upon the therapist's theoretical orientation. Fritz Perls (Gestalt Therapy) may have been the first to use this method. It has also been used in Primal Therapy by Arthur Janov, in a variety of groups and workshops conducted by Nathaniel Branden.

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