How does the group work – the theory

Transference and Countertransference as Basic to Analytic Group Therapy

Because the patient transfers onto the group members/therapist, it allows him/her to form an intensive relationship of dependence, and it reflects the degree of their maturity or the amount of psychopathology present. The therapist should use the transference constructively. It exists, even if he/she is not aware of it or doesn’t use it. The presence and recognition of transference establishes analytic group psychotherapy as distinct from the encounter and humanistic psychology movements. The therapist watches for the transference, uses it, and works it through before a patient leaves the group.
Transference and countertransference differ in the group from that in individual sessions, the definitions from Freud still hold.
* Definition of the Transference:
The concept of transference can only be appreciated in terms of its historical development, different schools emphasise different aspects.
Freud referred to transference as “an almost inexhaustible subject”. The patients’ modes of relating in the therapy group are similar to those they use outside of treatment.
Transference is the process in which a person projects  a pattern of adaption which was developed in a previous life situation to a current life situation; s/he then displaces the affect  from that situation to the present situation.
Although the intensity of the transference on any one individual is reduced, the total emotional feeling is multiplied and intensified by the group situation.
Transference can be observed, clarified, and reduced, with a resulting fundamental change in the personality of the patient.
Transference makes the other person appear to be what they are not. Transference makes the perceived appear to be another.
Characteristics are put into the other that they do not have. It can emphasise or de-emphasise a person out of all proportion. Success in group psychotherapy depends largely on making transference overt, and working through them.