The first official experience done with groups occurs in 1905, with J. Pratt, who developed a serie of sessions with 50 patients of an infirmary unit suffering from tuberculosis. Each session began with a “class” about hygiene and protection and then, the patients made their questions and a discussion between them and the doctor, about the subject, was promoted. The results were very positive.
The experiments evolved and in 1935 the famous group Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was established which is very popular nowadays and has thousands of members all over the world.
Despite all these experiments, the expression group therapy was used for the first time in 1930 by J. Moreno (1889-1974), a romanian doctor who, due to his love of the theater, started the psychodrama technique (Zimerman & Osorio, 1997).
With the development of various experiments, it became clear that any given group has a certain dynamic and that they are all different from each other, so, Lewin (1936) created the expression group dynamic referring to any behavioral structure and the roles each subject plays within a set group. Lewin concluded that every individual is part of the group and has a specific role in it, however this is ignored by most of the other members of that group.
However, just in 1948, with Foulkes, the psychoanalytic group therapy became a reality. It assumes the idea that a given group is different from the sum of their individual members and the interpretations are directed to the group as one.
During the 40s, great advances were performed with respect to intervention techniques and group studies, majorly developed by Bion (1897-1979), a famous british analyst. According to Bion, the group precedes the individual, whose personal structure depends on his participation in the group. This group will be inserted in a specific culture and mentality, where there is an organization of which the individual is part of, and with which he repeatedly interacts.
In the 60’s, the so-called French School introduces a new concept, still based on the original concepts of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), defending the existence of a group psychic apparatus, which would keep the same organization as the individual psychic apparatus, but under different operating principles.
The importance of the so-called Argentine School and its contributions in the treatment of eating disorders should also be mentioned, as well as, its intervention with couples and families in what they call Psychoanalysis of Link Configurations (Zimerman & Osorio, 1997).
ZIMERMAN, David E., OSORIO, Luiz Carlos & Col. (1997). Como Trabalhamos com Grupos. (How to work with groups) Porto Alegre: Artes Médicas.