HEAL MY HEART: STORIES OF HURT AND HEALING FROM GROUP THERAPY
Knight, Z., Rhodes University, South Africa
This paper is based on the clinical material that emerged from an intensive three day, residential, experiential group therapy workshop. The overarching theoretical framework of the group process is based on the underlying assumptions of Existential and Gestalt Therapy, while the group therapy techniques employed are based on the broad principles of Gestalt Therapy - creating and deepening awareness - and which can loosely be described as individual therapy within a group context. However, the group is invited to participate, when appropriate, and thus act as a bridge for interpersonal learning and personal insight for the group member in the "hot seat". In the group therapy setting, individuals are therefore brought together to express emotions within an interpersonal context, the purpose of which is to enable the member to see how others perceive and experience them through feedback and discussion. In this way, experiences of group members may be re-enacted within the group setting, while the group itself may potentially provide a "corrective emotional experience". The group comprised eight members, two men, six women, aged between 21 and 27 years. From within the group therapy, some of the stories of essentially broken hearts, hurts, betrayal and fears that emerged are documented. In so doing, the paper maps out some of the territories of the psyche revealed within the group, such as resistance and anxieties concerning self- disclosure as well as the struggles to create meaning and self-healing. In addition, the clinical material is utilized to illustrate the phenomenon of "a corrective emotional experience" within group therapy, and thus confirms the literature on the healing potential of group therapy.