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Clarkson, Group Imago

Clarkson, Group Imago



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Published by Noeliza Lima
I uploaded this text for studies. Petruska Clarkson( In Memorian) founded the Metanoia Institute, in London. If you want to know more, look for notices bu google: Petruska or Metanoia Institute.
I uploaded this text for studies. Petruska Clarkson( In Memorian) founded the Metanoia Institute, in London. If you want to know more, look for notices bu google: Petruska or Metanoia Institute.

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Categories:Types, School Work
Published by: Noeliza Lima on Oct 02, 2007
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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 Petruska Clarkson, Group Imago and the Stages of Group Development 
author wishes to thank Charlotte Sills for her editorial assistance.
This article emphasizes similarities between Berne's concept of group imago adjustment and the stages of group development asconceptualised by Tuckman (1965) and Lacoursiere (1980), highlighting the most relevant tasks of group leaders at different phasesof a group's maturation. Feedback from practitioners and trainees is used to identify useful group leader behaviours at differentstages. The article focuses on how developmental phenomena related to the group as a whole can be understood and used asadjunct to individual psychotherapy
the group, not as a substitute for it. Particular factors in the blending of individual andgroup psychotherapy are also discussed.
Group psychotherapy generally adheres to one of two models: One focuses on the group as a whole, represented by Foulkes(1951), and the other 
emphasizes doing psychotherapy with individuals in the group. This latter model was popularised by Pearls in filmsthat show him doing Gestalt therapy with individuals in a group context. Another combination popular with therapists who blend group andindividual treatment is transactional analysis and some form of individual psychotherapy.TA offers a unique method of using a group to help individuals work through script issues. The analysis of transactions, games,and ego states usually conducted between the individual client and the psychotherapist, can be greatly aided, focused, and enhanced byutilizing material from relationships between group members as well as between group members and the therapist. Just as the individualexternalises his or her intrapsychic object relations in the client / psychotherapist dyad, each group member externalises intrapsychic objectrelations in the matrix of the group. Thus, material from here – and - now interactions with other group members can be interpreted,explained, and confronted psychotherapeutically. This was certainly the basis for Berne's (1964) most popularised work,
Games People Play.
Berne's (1963) concept of the developing stages of the group imago provides a framework for understanding both reenactments of early family life that occur within the group setting and subsequent corrective experiences and their potential for healing. This articlecompares Berne's concept of group imago adjustment with the stages of group development as conceptualised by Tuckman (1965) andLacoursiere (1980). It uses Berne's diagrams of group dynamics to explain the nature of the processes involved at different stages. Inaddition, it considers relevant tasks of group leaders at the different stages - be they trainers, organizational consultants, or group psychotherapists. Finally, the article explores constructive and destructive group leader behaviours at different stages based on extensivesurveys gleaned over more than a decade from hundreds of practitioners and trainees in the fields of group work, organizational consulting,and group psychotherapy.
The Group as a Whole
Human beings are born into groups, live in groups, and identify their sense of being through groups. Because the individual’s firstexposure to a group is in his or her family (or children's home), this becomes the matrix for his or her most enduring and profound injuriesor permissions. Some of the most important changes in human history (for good or ill) have come about through individuals combiningtheir forces in groups, whether the group is a lynch mob or a band of missionaries. A group provides a microcosm of human existence, withgreat potential for destruction as well as for healing. Thus the group is probably the most potent vehicle for individual and societal change.
The need for social contact and the hunger for time - structure might be called the preventive motives for group formation. One purpose of forming, joining and adjusting to groups is to prevent biologic, psychological and also moral deterioration. Few people areable to “recharge their own batteries”, lift themselves up by their own psychological bootstraps, and keep their own morals trimmed without outside assistance. (Berne, 1963, p. 217)
Therefore, as group leaders - whether psychotherapists, trainers, or managers - we deal with people who have already been shapedand affected by previous experiences. It is useful to understand this in relation to the process a group goes through as it forms and developsover time.Berne's primary contribution to group psychotherapy was his development of transactional analysis as a means of individualchange in a group. However, he was also interested in group process theory and the phenomenon of the group as a whole, which Foulkes(1951) and others had also studied. Berne stressed that the group had its own distinctive culture, including group etiquette, technicalculture, and group character. Since these categories for describing the group as a whole correspond to Parent, Adult, and Child aspects of the individual, the whole group or whole organization can diagramed as PAC (see Jongeward, 1973).The PAC configuration of the group as a whole represents more than the simple sum of the attributes of individual groupmembers. Different groups have different “personalities” which send different shared psychological messages to the therapist. The group becomes a unique and distinctive entity which endures over time, going through predictable stages of development or maturation. Groupsare more or less ill, healthy, energetic, thoughtful, worried, or guilty. For example, a guilt - ridden group of mothers may send their therapist a psychological - level message such as "be guilty like us" whenever she plans a holiday break, although at a social level their questions are concerned only with the dates and number of missed sessions.A group can be defined as a collection of individuals who interact with each other for an
common purpose. The word"apparently" is included because, although the group may agree at a social level about its task, at the psychological level there may beconflicting, confluent, or complementary ulterior - level agendas. The particular gestalt (whole) formed by combining the members' psychological - level messages forms the collective psychological group entity .The
 public structure
(Berne, 1963, p. 327) of a group may be identified and consensually agreed upon. However, the collective private structure of the group is more complex and developmentallyliable. Bad management of critical periods in a group's life may affect its future functioning just as ineffective parenting affects anindividual's subsequent social and psychological development.
Group Leader Figure 1 - Social Level and Psychological Level CommunicationAlthough many authors have considered the stages, phases, or cycles in the formation of a well - functioning group, mostemphasize that these stages should not be seen as discrete or separate.
Most groups and the individuals in them can be considered as going through a sequence of developmental stages during the group history or life cycle. These stages - like most psychological and social processes - blend into each other to some extent so that whereone divides one stage from the others, and how many divisions are made, depends partly on one's purposes, on how one views the data and  so on. (Lacoursiere, 1980, p. 27)
However, in groups brought together for a specific purpose - such as training or task groups - with the same membership from beginning to end, the phases of group life are often quite recognisable. Such predictable patterns can be perceived by a trained observer over the course of a three - year training, or an hour – and – a - half committee meeting. Knowledge of these phases is therefore relevantand potentially useful for anyone who is either a member or a leader of a group.In a closed psychotherapy group, these predictable stages can also be observed when the membership of the group remainsreasonably stable. If, on the other hand, new members join a group, it will usually regress to earlier and less developed levels of functioning, and the group leader may need to help the group recycle through the various phases again. Likewise, when two families arecombined into one "step family," they almost invariably need to rework issues of identity, conflict management, rules, and values beforethey can function effectively.Understanding the stages of group development can help therapists think more clearly about sometimes baffling group dynamicsand to be more discriminating in their choice of techniques and interventions. Further, linking these stages to the concept of the groupimago helps clarify how the group's experience connects with the individual's.Figure 2 Provisional Group Imago Diagram (Based on a diagram in Berne, 1966, p. 154)
Group Imago
Berne (1963) defined
 group imago
as "any mental picture, conscious, preconscious or unconscious, of what a group is or should be like” (p. 321). The group imago exists in what Berne called the private structure of the group, which is based on each individual's personal needs, experience, wishes, and emotions. Therefore, it is perceived differently by different members at different phases of thegroup. Imago adjustment is the process manifested in the observable stages in a group.
The First Stage of Group Development
The Provisional Group Imago It should be clear now that each member first enters the group equipped with: (1) a biological need for stimulation; (2) a psychological need for time – structuring; (3) a social need for intimacy; (4) a nostalgic need for patterning transactions; and (5) a provisional set of expectations based on past experience. His task is then to adjust these needs and expectations to the reality that confrontshim. (Berne, 1963, p.221)
Before joining a group, individuals form their own individual group imago, that is, their preconscious expectation of what thatgroup will be like based on their fantasies and previous experiences with groups, including their families of origin. The provisional groupimago is compatible with structuring time through rituals, that is, interactions performed in a preprogrammed way (e.g., a greeting). At thisstage individuals are concerned with the nature and boundaries of the group task; they have fantasies about the ground rules andexpectations of limits on behaviour based on past experiences of what is acceptable.According to Berne, at this stage the group's focus is on a preoccupation with and dependency on the leader and how eachmember stands in relation to him or her. This relationship is the primary vehicle for psychotherapeutic understanding, whether of theindividual or the group as a whole. This is illustrated in Figure 2 by placing the leader in the upper slot, which corresponds to the projectionof the individual's image of the parent figure. The slots as Berne indicates them symbolically represent the projective spaces in whichindividuals project images of their own grandfathers, sisters, teachers, and so forth.
Self GroupLeader “ThoseOthers”
 In a small group, the central transference is on to the monitor but there is also the lateral transference of participants on to oneanother. This is due to the fact in a small group participants rapidly get to know one another. There is also a third type, much harder todiscern, analyse and interpret: the transference of participants (and the counter transference of the monitor) on to the small group as anobject or entity. (Anzieu, 1984, p.227)
Tuckman (1965) refers to the first stage of a group, which appears to correspond with beginning to test the provisional groupimago against reality, as
 Groups initially concern themselves with orientation accomplished primarily through testing. Such testing serves to identify theboundaries of both interpersonal and task behaviours. Coincident with testing in the interpersonal realm is the establishment of dependency relationships with other group members, or pre-existing standards. It may be said that orientation, testing, and dependenceconstitute the group process of forming . (p. 396)Case Example.
Stewart was the only son of a woman who works in a children’s home. His father left before Stewart’s birth, andhe was brought up in the children’s home with the other children – as both one of them and yet not one of them. His early experience wasof being resented by the other children for having a parent, yet feeling that he never got enough from his mother. Before joining the psychotherapy group he knew the name of the female therapist, whom he had met at a training course and with whom he had made a goodconnection. He knew no one else in the group. Consciously, his provisional group imago would have resembled Figure 2. However, hisscripted self (mostly unconscious) – his “blend of Child fantasy and Adult expectation” (Berne, 1963, p. 223) – expected a reproduction of the early scene (Figure 3). In addition, he had a history of leaving a group claiming that the therapist did not give him enough attention.During the forming phase of the group, Stewart’s transactions were those of a person accustomed to having to get along witheverybody. He was careful to make no “special” demands on the group leader other than to carefully establish the rules. He expressed noneof the fears and fantasies that other group members had about what group would be like. In this way, he kept his behaviour unexceptionaland was accepted easily by the group. By the end of the forming stage Stewart’s imago was adapted as in Figure 6.Figure 3 The Script Behind Stewart’s Provisional Imago (Based on a diagram in Berne, 1966, p.155)
 Leadership Tasks.
The process by which the provisional group imago is changed is influenced by member characteristics, but also by leadership tasks and behaviours. In this stage the leader’s most important task is to deal with the external group process and to definethe major external and internal boundaries (Berne, 1963, p.55). Secure, stable physical and psychological external group boundaries needto be established in order to ensure the group’s survival. Symbolically, the group therapist must create a
within which energy can be focused on internal healing processes (safeguarded from external pressures). It is crucial to have clear contracts between group membersand the group leader, group members and each other, and the group leader and his or her supervisor, co-workers, and/or agency (Berne,1963, p.55).The external boundary includes the physical space in which the group has its life. The unexpected arrival of the police at a séanceis one of Berne’s (1963) most vivid examples of how pressure on the external boundary of the group can lead to its disintegration.Although Berne was describing an actual external boundary, it is important to remember that this boundary has also psychologicalimplications. According to Gurowitz (1975) the external boundary is largely a function of the internal boundary, which he equates with theleader’s potency. Therefore, one of the leader’s tasks is to create a strong and clear internal boundary which the group then experiences as a barrier warding off external intrusions. “In groups with a weak IB, the EB is seen as a fence confining members in an unsafe space”(Gurowitz, 1975, p. 184). One important factor in defining the major internal boundary is the psychological state of the group leader or therapist.Other essential tasks of the leader in this phase are to clarify who is in and who is out of the group as well as who is in charge.These considerations also define and safeguard the external boundary. Almost any group which meets regularly will, with seeminglyrelentless energy, focus on absent members until all are properly accounted for. Only then can the group settle down to its task.It is equally vital for the group therapist to define the boundary between leadership and membership, that is, which decisions andresponsibilities are to be shared and which are the responsibility of the leader. Clarifying issues of leadership and power are important because often people call a group undemocratic in the false belief that democracies have no leaders. However, leadership needs to be balanced in such a way that eventually facilitates the empowerment of members. Leaders cannot responsibly avoid being leaders if that isthe psychological need of the group in its initial phases, just as parents cannot abdicate all structuring and decision making to an infantwithout endangering it. The task of the responsible leader at this stage involves, therefore, ensuring the establishment of rules, safety, and boundaries. It is necessary to establish dependency before resisting it. Like a parent, the group leader must have the courage to allowhimself or herself to be loved, knowing that the ultimate goal of growth and development leads to the loss of this love.Because group members are often so anxious in the beginning that they do not hear what has been said, experienced group leadershave learned they may have to repeat things later, when people are more relaxed. On the other hand, excessive anxiety in the leader can bedisruptive and needs to be managed in psychotherapy or supervision that addresses both archaic personal issues and counter transference.The group psychotherapist often embodies the cohesive forces of the group and may have excessive investment (e.g., because of fear of loss of reputation of income) in continued survival of the group.The group leader’s task is to find an optimal level of anxiety for the group, that is, level of arousal or investment which is
Self AssistantLeader (uncaringcaretaker?)HostilerejectingPsycho-therapist(unavailablemother?)

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