Petruska Clarkson, Group Imago and the Stages of Group Development

The author wishes to thank Charlotte Sills for her editorial assistance. Abstract This article emphasizes similarities between Berne's concept of group imago adjustment and the stages of group development as conceptualised by Tuckman (1965) and Lacoursiere (1980), highlighting the most relevant tasks of group leaders at different phases of a group's maturation. Feedback from practitioners and trainees is used to identify useful group leader behaviours at different stages. The article focuses on how developmental phenomena related to the group as a whole can be understood and used as adjunct to individual psychotherapy in the group, not as a substitute for it. Particular factors in the blending of individual and group 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 films that show him doing Gestalt therapy with individuals in a group context. Another combination popular with therapists who blend group and individual 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 by utilizing material from relationships between group members as well as between group members and the therapist. Just as the individual externalises his or her intrapsychic object relations in the client / psychotherapist dyad, each group member externalises intrapsychic object relations 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 article compares Berne's concept of group imago adjustment with the stages of group development as conceptualised by Tuckman (1965) and Lacoursiere (1980). It uses Berne's diagrams of group dynamics to explain the nature of the processes involved at different stages. In addition, 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 extensive surveys 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 first exposure 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 injuries or permissions. Some of the most important changes in human history (for good or ill) have come about through individuals combining their forces in groups, whether the group is a lynch mob or a band of missionaries. A group provides a microcosm of human existence, with great 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 are able 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 shaped and affected by previous experiences. It is useful to understand this in relation to the process a group goes through as it forms and develops over time. Berne's primary contribution to group psychotherapy was his development of transactional analysis as a means of individual change 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, technical culture, 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 group members. 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. Groups are 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 apparently 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 be conflicting, 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 developmentally liable. Bad management of critical periods in a group's life may affect its future functioning just as ineffective parenting affects an individual's subsequent social and psychological development.

Group

Leader

P A C

P A C

Figure 1 - Social Level and Psychological Level Communication

Although many authors have considered the stages, phases, or cycles in the formation of a well - functioning group, most emphasize 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 where one 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 relevant and 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 remains reasonably 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 are combined into one "step family," they almost invariably need to rework issues of identity, conflict management, rules, and values before they can function effectively. Understanding the stages of group development can help therapists think more clearly about sometimes baffling group dynamics and to be more discriminating in their choice of techniques and interventions. Further, linking these stages to the concept of the group imago helps clarify how the group's experience connects with the individual's.

Group Leader

S elf

“Those Others”

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 the group. 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 confronts him. (Berne, 1963, p.221) Before joining a group, individuals form their own individual group imago, that is, their preconscious expectation of what that group will be like based on their fantasies and previous experiences with groups, including their families of origin. The provisional group imago is compatible with structuring time through rituals, that is, interactions performed in a preprogrammed way (e.g., a greeting). At this stage individuals are concerned with the nature and boundaries of the group task; they have fantasies about the ground rules and expectations 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 each member stands in relation to him or her. This relationship is the primary vehicle for psychotherapeutic understanding, whether of the individual or the group as a whole. This is illustrated in Figure 2 by placing the leader in the upper slot, which corresponds to the projection of the individual's image of the parent figure. The slots as Berne indicates them symbolically represent the projective spaces in which individuals project images of their own grandfathers, sisters, teachers, and so forth.

In a small group, the central transference is on to the monitor but there is also the lateral transference of participants on to one another. 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 to discern, analyse and interpret: the transference of participants (and the counter transference of the monitor) on to the small group as an object 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 group imago against reality, as forming. Groups initially concern themselves with orientation accomplished primarily through testing. Such testing serves to identify the boundaries 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 dependence constitute 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, and he 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 was of 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 good connection. He knew no one else in the group. Consciously, his provisional group imago would have resembled Figure 2. However, his scripted 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 with everybody. He was careful to make no “special” demands on the group leader other than to carefully establish the rules. He expressed none of the fears and fantasies that other group members had about what group would be like. In this way, he kept his behaviour unexceptional and was accepted easily by the group. By the end of the forming stage Stewart’s imago was adapted as in Figure 6.

Psychotherapist (unavailable mother?)

Assistant Leader (uncaring caretaker?) S elf Hostile rejecting others

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 define the major external and internal boundaries (Berne, 1963, p.55). Secure, stable physical and psychological external group boundaries need to be established in order to ensure the group’s survival. Symbolically, the group therapist must create a container within which energy can be focused on internal healing processes (safeguarded from external pressures). It is crucial to have clear contracts between group members and 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 séance is 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 psychological implications. According to Gurowitz (1975) the external boundary is largely a function of the internal boundary, which he equates with the leader’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 seemingly relentless 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 and responsibilities 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 is the psychological need of the group in its initial phases, just as parents cannot abdicate all structuring and decision making to an infant without 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 allow himself 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 leaders have learned they may have to repeat things later, when people are more relaxed. On the other hand, excessive anxiety in the leader can be disruptive 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

conducive to maximum risk-taking and learning and yet not so extreme as to lead to incapacitation, retraumatization, or the reinforcement of a pathological system. It is interesting to note that what may look like a lack of structure (e.g., over-long silences, undiscriminating refusal to explain) may actually be the imposition of a damaging covert process, one that may even lead to the appearance of psychosis. Some casualties of encounter group and T-group experiences in the sixties no doubt resulted from the tyranny of structurelessness. Indeed, Berne (1963) defined structure hunger as one of the basic hungers of the human being (pp. 215, 327) and leadership hunger as the need for the leader to provide structure for the group within which individuality and creativity can flourish (p. 216). In this way, as in others, the group leader’s role is similar to that of a parent. Time is one of the most significant boundaries affecting safety and trust among human beings. Carelessness around time is frequently reported as one of the more destructive group leader behaviours. Those who are concerned with psychological-level communication (Casement, 1985; Langs, 1978) corroborate the severe repercussions of confusing time boundaries. In terms of complimentary counter transference, group leaders may need to monitor their tendencies toward over-dash nurturing or overcontrol in the beginning stages of a group session or in the initial stages of forming a psychotherapy group. Table 1 – based on feedback collected over several years with hundreds of organisational, psychotherapeutic and social work group leaders – identifies the leader behaviours most frequently listed as destructive or constructive. Any of these behaviours may be relevant at any stage of group development. Also, most constructive behaviours can be destructive if used poorly, inappropriately, or if mistimed. Table 1 Summary of Destructive and Constructive Behaviours at the Provisional Group Imago Stage (Forming) Destructive Behaviours Excessive anxiety in leader The tyranny of structurelessness Hidden sadism Confusion about roles Appears too aggressive or too seductive Too task oriented Too many rules – too authoritarian Focus on one person’s pathology/acting-out behaviour at the expense of other members Constructive Behaviours Clear contracts Clear time structure Building optimal anxiety Clear assumption of responsible leadership Clarity of boundaries and clarity of group task Facilitation of group member getting to know one another Early provision of practical/survival information, e.g., toilets, breaks, food limits Preparation of the room in a manner which demonstrates that group members are expected and welcome.

Figure 4 The External Group Process Group Cohesion versus External Disruptive Forces (Based on a diagram in Berne, 1963, p.38)

Likewise many of the behaviours listed here as destructive may at times or in certain circumstances be useful, provocative, or creative. It should be noted that these results are offered in order to stimulate further thinking about this subject and to act as a supervisory aid and a tool for self-exploration; they are not meant to be a set of rules. The Second Stage of Group Development The Adapted Group Imago. The adapted group imago is “superficially modified in accordance with the member’s estimate of the confronting reality” (Berne, 1963, p.321). It is particularly suitable for structuring time by pastiming. When pastiming, group members are usually engaged in relaxed, informal, general conversation that is not part of the group activity or task; they will not act on their conversation. It is primarily characterised by agitation across the leadership boundary or the major internal group process (Berne, 1963, p. 55). The major internal group process results from conflicts between individual proclivities and group cohesion as represented by the leader and primarily takes place at the major internal boundary, that is between members and the leader. Tuckman calls this second stage storming. The second point in the sequence is characterised by conflict and polarisation around interpersonal issues, with concomitant emotional responding in the task sphere. These behaviours serve as resistance to group influence and task requirements and may be labelled as storming. (Tuckman, 1965, p. 396)

This stage in a group’s life – characterised by conflict with or rebellion against the leader – is one of the most important. It is often thought to occur as a result of the group member’s emotional response to task demands. Storming does not always involve overt or covert criticism; sometimes it may be manifested in depression, passivity or lack of energy in group members. In such cases there has been probably been insufficient forming. This second phase in the development of the group imago is characterised by superficial modifications of the group imago in accordance with member’s estimate of the confronting reality.

Figure 5 The Major Internal Group Process Individual Proclivity versus Group Cohesion (Characterized by agitation across the leadership boundary) (Based on Berne, 1963, p. 38) Archetypally, the effective leader at this stage is reminiscent of the “firm and fair” teachers some of us remember from school. Experienced teachers and group leaders often report that their relationship with the class or group can be made or marred in the first session. Group leaders can misguidedly avoid overt storming by exploiting their own fears and vulnerabilities. For example, a leader told a group “I hear you don’t like me”; rescuers in her group told her what a nice woman she was but gossiped to others that they did not really mean it. Storming frequently appears to be about the nature of the task, but psychologically it is about the ability of the group leader to be effective. Is he or she strong and secure enough to survive members taking power? The storming phase is a necessary precursor to later effective group functioning, and is probably as important as is effective resolution of the rebellion of a child’s “terrible twos.” Storming should not be viewed as a distraction from the group’s central task, but as a necessary stage in establishing the most efficient ways of conducting that task. This is a time when an “I’m OK, You’re OK” life position really gets tested. Case Example. During the storming stage of the group, Stewart’s energies went into finding out where he stood in relation to the group leader. He continued to be superficially friendly with other members, but did not make much good contact with them. On the contrary, he was unusually exclusive in his attention to the group leader and performed much of the group’s storming task for them by challenging and testing. The therapist guessed that in the children’s home he often took the challenging role on behalf of the children because of his perceived special status. In this stage, Stewart’s internal work was on allocating the slots in his imago to the leader and members of the group.

Psychotherapist (unavailable mother?)

Assistant Leader (uncaring caretaker?)

S elf

An n

John

Hostile rejecting others

Figure 6 Stewart’s Adapted Group Imago (Based on a diagram in Berne, 1966, p.155)

Leadership Tasks. At this stage the leader’s task is to keep leadership boundaries and the group task intact while still allowing individual group members maximum opportunity to test. At a psychological level the group leader has to survive. The leader needs to withstand verbal attacks from the group without punishing or collapsing in response, neither becoming punitive nor apologetic (e.g., “I’m

only trying to please you”). Feedback on leadership factors is reliable at this stage than at later stages because contaminated projections colour respondents judgement. Later in the development of the group, feedback from group members to the leader can be enormously valuable, but at this stage it is helpful for group pshychotherapists to give themselves the benefit of the doubt while seeking both support and confrontation in supervision. It is important that the leader not appropriately seek support from group members and perhaps reinforce second-order structural symbiotic patterns, that is, patterns which might invite the client to take care of the leader in the same way that some children become “caretakers” of their parents. Table 2 Summary of Destructive and Constructive Behaviours at the Adapted Group Imago Stage (Storming) Destructive Behaviours Leader who deflects or denies intergroup aggression and “syrups over” conflicts Leader interprets anger and rebellion as a sign of individual pathology or of group sharing in a way which invalidates/patronises members Group leader looking too fragile, sick, or appearing hurt Taking any of four drama roles (Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor or Bystander) Ignoring the conflict – pretends it doesn’t exist Supporting polarisation or scapegoating No sanctions or unjust sanctions Abandoning group Constructive Behaviours Taking people’s feedback seriously without collapsing under the criticism Not giving in to blackmail threats Validating people’s right to their feelings, thoughts, opinions, and concerns without giving up rights I’m OK, you’re OK Ability to negotiate issues – to be flexible about negotiation for group to form its own particular culture Discriminating between compromises/negotiations which would facilitate or handicap group task

Conflict and polarisation between members occurs in response to adjusting their own needs to the group task. Fight or flight might be predictable responses to anxiety and threat. In psychotherapy group this conflict or withdrawal may appear as resistance to change, overadaptation, or other passive behaviours. In groups where the leader is perceived as too frightening or too fragile to test or question, premature conflicts and polarisation may erupt between group members. Especially vociferous and apparently irreconcilable differences between group members in the initial phases of a group often mask unsatisfactory management of the storming phase by the group leader. Although not impossible, usually groups in the beginning stage are involved in rituals with each other and not serious games. “In a psychotherapy group, an adaptable member will not begin to play his games until he thinks he knows how he stands with the leader. If he is arbitrary and not adaptable… he may act prematurely and pay the penalty” (Berne, 1963, pp. 224-225). Individual group members, unless seriously disturbed, will tend not to engage actively in second – or third – degree interpersonal games before having established the group leader’s boundaries vis-à-vis themselves. For example, a group of adolescents may test the group leader by coming late, verbal abuse, or swearing. How group leaders or unit managers deal with these early testing situations will, to a large extent, determine how group members subsequently use the therapy or activity group. The Third Stage of Group Development The Operative Group Imago. The operative group imago is “further modified in accordance with the member’s perception of how he fits into the leader’s imago” (Berne, 1963,p. 321). In this phase time is structured by means of games. This stage corresponds to what Tuckman (1965) calls norming. Resistance is overcome in the third stage in which ingroup feeling and cohesiveness develop, new standards evolves, and new roles are adopted. In the task realm, intimate, personal opinions are expressed. Thus, we have the stage of norming. (Tuckman, 1965, p.39) This stage of the group imago is characterised by the development of group cohesion; games are played out and games and racket tolerance levels are established. Issues with the leader have been successfully worked through, and the mechanisms are in place for constructively dealing with interpersonal conflicts. Thus the seemingly contradictory definition of “operative image” and “norming” can both be true. This is a time of maximum game playing and reenacting the family drama, yet it is also a time when group members are available for insight, feel safer in the group, are invested in its future, and can share feelings and offer mutual support. A group in this stage has a clear sense of “this is the way we do things around here.” Shared norms and values have developed. Case Example. During the norming stage, Ann, another group member, told Stewart that she noticed that he talked only to the therapist, and she felt sad about this because she would have liked more of his attention. Stewart reacted by becoming withdrawn and depressed, acting in a pleasing, anxious way to other group members and not speaking to the leader. Two weeks later Stewart said that he was furious with the leader for paying more attention to the others and deeply bewildered by Ann’s comment, which he experienced as rejecting and persecutory. He felt that he got less attention from the therapist than did the others. The game was eventually exposed, and Stewart’s Adult was decontaminated as he became aware of how he had set up a repeat of his childhood. Stewart had been functioning from his operative group imago, in which he had allocated slots for his mother, other caretakers (the assistant leader and a Parental group member), and the rejecting children. Leadership Tasks. The leadership tasks at this stage involve facilitating interpersonal skills and modelling behaviours that will support constructive group norms. For example, effective leaders teach emotional literacy (Steiner, 1984) and provide information and resources. In a psychotherapy group, or any group where comment on personal process is appropriate, leaders can teach game theory, in the process facilitating feedback to group members about how they are playing out their games and scripts and to the whole group about how they encourage each other’s games. The group imago is further modified in accord with members’ perceptions of how they fit into the leader’s imago. Other leadership tasks at this stage are encouragement, modelling, and providing psychological-level messages that are congruent with the genuine values that the leader espouses. Effective leadership fosters the healthiest forces within the individual or the group, those oriented toward individuation and self-actualisation.

The leader may set rules and contracts as well as sanctions which are activated if these rules or contracts are not observed. Norms can be influenced by the leader(s), but primarily arise and are shaped by group members themselves. Group norms compromise the most vital factors in establishing a healthy group culture. There is some indication that group norms are influenced not so much by what group leaders say as by what they do; for example, it is often throw-away comments or the peripheral management of boundary issues from which individual members draw conclusions about acceptable norms. In this way a group leader can challenge premature or oppressive norming in order to maintain flexibility and to facilitate informed and compassionate valuing processes, rather than norms based on rigidity, certainty, and loudness. The Fourth Stage of Group Development The Secondarily Adjusted Group Imago. The secondarily adjusted group imago is “the final phase, in which the member relinquishes some of his own proclivities in favour of the group cohesion…. The minor group process results from conflicts between individual proclivities and takes place at the minor internal boundaries” (Berne, 1963, p.321). Tuckman (1965) calls this stage the performing stage, in which interpersonal structure becomes the tool of task activities. Roles become flexible and functional, and group energy is channelled into the task. Structural issues have been resolved, and structure can now become supportive of task performance. Table 3 Summary of Destructive and Constructive Behaviours at the Operative Group Imago Stage (Norming) Destructive Behaviours Stroking rigidity Reluctance to let the group move to the stage where group members make more autonomous movement and the group leader often loses centrality Constructive Behaviours Members get stroked for making explicit queries around norming

Rigidity concerning rules such as “there are no exceptions,” no allowance for individual differences and individual needs Capriciously malevolent destructive members are allowed to stay and destroy group cohesion, task, and process Carrying one’s expectations, group norms based on past experience, thus perhaps interfering with the unique development of each individual group’s norms Leader tries to set rules instead of norms

As a group leader, challenge norms to maintain flexibility and deny “there is only one way to do it” Facilitate group developing own norms – norms are group’s personality Flexibility around norms Focuses on process of valuing and norm formation or culture building not as pure introjection of unconsidered rules or procedures Referral/Exclusion of destructive members after very careful consideration of cost/benefit effects on the rest of the group Explicit statements of leader’s values, e.g. race, sexual orientation, where this is appropriate Respect for each particular group’s uniqueness

Leader expresses own values excessively, allowing no freedom and causing possible repression of individual’s views In this phase the group functions effectively in their task with minimal interference from distracting group process, and the grop can deal with what arises with the reality orientation. In therapy group, members achive insight and behaviour comma while the task group engages in effective problem solving. This is the phase during which intimacy is more frequent among group members and between group members and the leader, that is, when feelings and wants can be expressed and heard without censoring. The performing stage is satisfactorily achieved if the leader or the psychotherapist ends up surrounded by individuals who take responsibility for their own psychotherapy. Case Example. In the performing stage of the group, Stewart’s imago was secondarily adjusted as shown in Figure 8. His relationships with his peers became warm and trusting as he accepted their support and affection. He developed a good relationship with the therapist and could make himself heard appropriately. His psychotherapy involved deconfusion of the Child ego state as he became aware of and worked through prior painful experiences. Leadership Tasks. The leader’s task at this point is to enjoy having navigated the previous phases and to now feel that he or she is doing psychotherapy: people are “in treatment” (Berne, 1962). Group members have ways of using their interpersonal processes to each others’ benefit, and although group members are not always happy, they are always learning.

Figure 7 Minor Internal Group Process (Based on Berne, 1963, p. 38) If this level of functioning has been established in an ongoing group is usually will, to a large extent, maintain the established culture even through temporary separations such as summer holidays or minor fluctuations in group membership. However, to some extent the group will recycle or rework previous phases – although perhaps in less obvious, lengthy, or uncomfortable ways. At this stage it is important that the group leader relinquish many leadership behaviours, allowing each group member to perform leadership acts even as the leader retains ultimate responsibility. In successful and effective groups the leadership slot may be vacated and filled by one or more of the effective leaders in the group. At this stage leadership tasks involve offering praise, positive strokes, and minimising control while maintaining safety – although the group will usually do this for itself – as well as offering structures and resources (e.g., “Let’s try this.”) He or she invites comment and evaluation while the group makes choices and decisions within a wide range of open boundaries regarding what is permitted and what is not. He or she relaxes, enjoys group permission to have fun and work, and encourages and validates autonomy, immediacy, authenticity, spontaneity, feelings, skills, and knowledge. Finally, the leader is seen by the group as a whole person and thus can be role-fluent, that is, move elegantly from one role to another (e.g., allowing group members to provide support or assistance to the leader). The group is now autonomous and no longer needs the leader in the ways it used to: the group leader thus can receive more from the group and allow himself or herself to be fully there, without needing to monitor so carefully what the group needs.

Psychotherapist

Assistant

S elf

An n

John

Chris

Lilly

Figure 8 The Differentiated Group Imago (Based on a diagram in Berne, 1966, p.155) The Fifth and Final Stage of Group Development The Clarified Group Imago. Although Berne only identified four phases as such, he says that “The real aim of most dynamic psychotherapy groups is to clarify the group imagoes of the individual members” (Berne, 1963, p. 241). Insofar as the group imago is a facsimile of an infantile group imago or a reproduction of a childhood group imago, its clarification and differentiation is part of facilitating individuals and groups to live more in terms of their current needs and to reduce or eliminate anachronistic interferences in intimate relationships whether in the therapy group or in life. If a group experience has been successful for a member it will usually result in a higher level of functioning and integration. Psychotherapy groups have as their major concerns “internal conflicts and concerts between forces, that is, in the internal group process” (Berne, 1963, p. 59). As this activity operates across all stages of group development, withdrawal as a time structure becomes relevant and necessary at the termination of a group or an individual member’s life in a group. Withdrawal is the divestment of emotional energy or cathectic charge from group cohesion. As Berne (1963) said “a phantom is . . . left whenever a well-differentiated member leaves a group and persists until the mourning process is completed if it ever is” (p.225).

Table 4 Summary of Destructive and Constructive Behaviours at the Secondarily Adjusted Group Imago Stage (Performing) Destructive Behaviours Criticise destructively, says “I know better” Puts people down Takes credit Deprives group of autonomy Too keen on schedule Tells people what they’re doing isn’t good enough, blemishing Holds too tight a rein Offers more punishment than reward Stresses task and ignores maintenance Is cool, impersonal and distant Refuses to listen to group members Invalidates feelings Invokes drivers Invokes injunctions This last phase is one of mourning (Lacoursiere, 1980) or adjourning (Tuckman & Jensen, 1977). The collective group focus is on termination. Psychologically, the group has to say goodbye and to negotiate the relevant grief processes. Case Example. In this stage, Stewart realized that, in addition to mourning the end of the group, he was carrying a great deal of grief for the father he never had. His leave-taking of his fellow group members was warm and intimate. He said that he had never felt so close to friends or peers before. Leadership Tasks. The most important leadership tasks at this stage is to keep the group focused on saying goodbye and not to let them “run away” from dealing with these issues at intrapsychic, interpersonal, or group levels. Often people try to avoid the pain of this period by making the group “bad, “ “blemishing” the group leader, and/or prematurely disengaging, for example, by physically getting sick, or psychologically be denying that the group was important to them. According to Worden (1983) the four major tasks of mourning are: 1) to accept the reality of the loss, 2) to experience the pain of grief, 3) to adjust to a changed environment, and 4) to withdraw emotional energy and reinvest it in another relationship. As the group terminates, the leader’s task is to facilitate the working through of such processes as they are manifested in the collective consciousness and avoidances of the group. Table 5 Summary of Destructive and Constructive Behaviours at the Clarified Group Imago Stage (Mourning) Destructive Behaviours Being persecuting about mourning Going along with group denial (collusion) Working out own problems with endings Behaving defensively at blemishing stage Packing in the information No time for process Sentimental prescribed mourning, e.g., all hug or all say something nice Overly extending the mourning period Too abrupt and ending, not allowing afterglow of satisfaction Over-indulgent or allowing of idealisation or splitting Constructive Behaviours Allowing individual to handle grief in own way Predicting varied reaction Letting people know well in advance Being explicit and honest about what he or she is doing Realistic plans for future connected with ending Allowing ambivalence to be expressed Finishing at a definite time Knowledge of what the leaving ritual is going to be Allowing and encouraging reminiscing Graciously accepting appropriate recognition and appreciation from the group Focusing on individuation, integration, and generalisation Facilitating group to use this ending as a learning experience for future endings Constructive Behaviours Lets people get on with it, letting go Allows people to be leaders Becomes participant – joining group Minimum control, maintains some safety boundaries – though group will usually do for themselves (time, refreshing, etc.) Offers praise, positive strokes for being and for doing Leadership slot is vacated to appropriate person though ready to step in if necessary Says things like, “Let’s experiment with this” Invites comment and evaluation, allows group to make choices Within a wide range of open boundaries says what’s permitted and what’s not. Relaxes, enjoys group Gives permission to have fun and work Encourages and validates: autonomy, immediacy, authenticity, spontaneity, feelings, skills, and knowledge

Kübler-Ross (1969) identified five stages that occur in grieving a loss – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Analogous phases of the grief process can be observed in the collective preoccupations of group members during the termination phase of a group. For example, idealisation as part of denial prevents dealing with the sad feelings of separation by creating romantic ideas of reunions. Feelings that need to be dealt with at this stage include anger, fear, sadness, and appreciation. The leader can give information about the process of grieving, but he or she also needs to help the group grapple emotionally with the implications of termination. The leader must participate in the termination process personally – with integrated Adult emotions – as well as intellectually if this phase is to be resolved effectively, just as a parent must experience the ambivalence that accompanies letting a child go, including sadness at losing a certain kind of closeness as well as pleasure at the child’s independence. It is not uncommon for survival issues to emerge again at this stage, and predicting that possibility can be useful. Every time people say goodbye, or separate from meaningful connections with

others, they have the opportunity to relive archaic separations in more healthy or creative ways, thus helping to heal wounds of the past. Termination is often both deeper and more effective if the group has been successfully managed. Group members let go of their group imagoes in moving from the third to the fourth stage, so mourning in the final phase is for real intimate relationships, not the fantasized ones of the original imago. And ultimately the hope is that their next provisional group imago will be based to a greater degree on trust in their own capacities and in other people’s rational good will. The effective group leader helps individuals handle grief in their own ways. It is important that the leader not participate in group denial (collusion) or work out problems with endings vicariously through the group. It is also vital not to behave defensively at the blemishing stage, but to listen and receive feedback: to support realistic plans for the future connected with endings; and to predict varied reactions and to allow ambivalence to be expressed. Group leaders must let members know well in advance of a definite finishing time, and one of their tasks may be to provide or facilitate leaving structures and rituals that are congruent with group norms. Table 6 Summary Table of Stages of Group Development Tuckman Forming Storming Norming Performing (Mourning) Berne Provisional Group Imago Adapted Group Imago Operative Group Imago Secondarily Adjusted Group Imago Clarified Group Imago Time Structuring Rituals Pastimes Games Intimacy Withdrawal Lacoursiere Orientation Dissatisfaction Resolution Production Termination

Blending Individual and Group Psycotherapy All the interventions and approaches discussed here are applicable to both individual and group psychotherapy. The emphasis in this article has been on whole group dynamics because there are events and times at which it is necessary to focus on the group as a whole in order to facilitate the most effective psychotherapy with individual group members. The smooth and efficient management of the stages of group development is one of the most important factors in creating optimal conditions for psychotherapeutic change: “Encouraging processes such as cohesiveness and universality by varying therapeutic techniques, decentralising leadership, and promoting free interaction among group members should provide a positive overall group atmosphere with which to make more active, TA-based interventions” (Kapur & Miller, 1987, p.299). The whole group process should also take priority at other crucial points in the group’s life such as the transition points between the stages of group development just discussed. For example, attention should be paid to group rather than individual processes when the group is beginning or ending or when the group has not moved onto the next stage of development. In addition, although significant interruptions such as breaks for holidays can cause interference in the performance level of the group, when competently managed they can provide improved individual understanding and functioning. Changes in the psychotherapeutic frame such as a change in fee, time, and location also need to take priority over individual change contracts. When members leave or when new members join, the collective response of the group will need attention as will responses of individual members. External causes of group anxiety, for example, a catastrophic world event, may coalesce the energies of individual group members in a way that the psychotherapist can use to maximise change. Neglecting to deal with either positive or negative such events may result in the group becoming stuck in some way; this may be signalled by poor attendance, recycling old issues, playing old games, or passivity on the part of group members. Major existential issues, including death, loss, loneliness, and love may also resonate for many members in a group or in the group collectively. Although there are many indicators or a disturbed group process, one of the most important is the leader’s own informed intuition. Conclusion The study and practice of psychotherapy includes attention to and understanding of the developmental stages of the individual from conception to death. Whenever a psychotherapist and a client meet, a further elaboration of developmental theory emerges. Whether or not a therapist works with groups or individuals, he or she is also involved in some form of group therapy. This article draws together various perspectives on these observable developmental stages of groups. This article offers an integration of some of the observations of Tuckman, Berne, and Lacoursiere with my own ideas in order to help psychotherapists to become as aware of group life and group needs as they are of those of each of their individual clients. I hope this article will also encourage greater attention to writing about and research into the essence and evolution of groups. Already colleagues, trainees, and friends have started updating my contribution – for example Sue Fish’s inclusion of an initial stage which she calls performing. Petrūska Clarkson, M.A., Ph.D. (Chartered Clinical Psychologist), A>F>B>Ps.S., TSTA, is the Director of Clinical Training at metatonoia Pschotherapy Training Institute in London. She was on the ITAA Board of Trustees and is Chairperson of the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute of Great Britain for Integrative Psychotherapy. Please send reprint requests to Dr. Clarkson at metatonoia, 13 Norh Common Road, London W5 2QB, England. REFERENCES Anzieu, D. (1984). The group and the unconscious. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Berne, E. (1962). In treatment. Transactional Analysis Bulletin, l(2), 10. Berne, E. (1963). The structure and dynamics of organisations and groups. New York: Grove Press. Berne, E. (1964). Games people play. New York: Grove Press. Berne, E. (1966). Principles of group treatment. New York: Grove Press. Casement, P. (1985). On learning from the patient. London: Tavistock. Foulkes, S. H. (1951). Concerning leadership in group-analytic psychotherapy. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, l, 319-329. Gurowitz, H. (1975). Group boundaries and leadership potency. Transactional Analysis Journal, 5, 183-185. Jongeward, D. (1973). Everybody wins: Transactional analysis applied to organisations. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Kapur, R., & Miller, K. (1987). A comparison between therapeutic factors in TA and psychodynamic therapy groups. Transactional Analysis Journal, 17, 294-300. Kübler-Ross. E. (1969). On death and dying. New York: Macmillan. Lacoursiere, R. (1980). Life cycle of groups. New York: Human Sciences Press. Langs, R. (1978). The listening process. New York: Jason Aronson. Steiner C. M. (1984). Emotional literacy. Transactional Analysis Journal, 14, 162-173. Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental Sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63, 384-399. Tuckman, B.w., & Jensen, K. (1977). Stages of small group development. Journal of Group and Organisational Studies, 2, 419-427. Worden, J. W. (1983). Grief counselling and grief therapy. London: Tavistock Publications.

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