A group is a structure that goes far beyond the sum of all its members. All its elements are linked to each other and a change to any one of them will impact all the others.
Each group develops a huge psychic energy potential, where the cohesive and disruptive forces face off, creating an overall balance.
Main aspects present in the group field (analytical view)
(Zimerman & Osorio, 1997)
1. Interaction between the working group and the basic assumptions
There is a permanent oscillatory interaction between these two assumptions, based on the previously mentioned forces of cohesion and disruption of the group.
2. Presence of Drives
We can verify the presence of libidinal drives in any group. These drives can be aggressive or narcissistic and they will manifest in many different ways.
Within any group, some anxieties will always arise, caused not only by the group’s internal conflicts, aswell as the internal conflicts of each one of its members, but also by the series of frustrations that external reality to the group will likely impose.
4. Defensive Mechanisms
The group will develop these mechanisms, in many different ways, in response to the anxieties mentioned above. In a therapeutic group, these are of vital importance and should not be ignored.
5. Active Game of Identification
This is a very important aspect of the so-called group field, since it’s at the core of these projected identifications formed within the group, that the sense of the group’s identity will be created.
Fundamental within any group, either in its verbal, or nonverbal form.
The roles played, especially those that are repeatedly performed by the same people, should be the subject of careful observation by the group leader.
The way the links emerge in the group, aswell as the way these tend to manifest and relate with each other, is increasingly valued within the group therapy.
Resonance is a typical phenomenon within the group field. It consists of the way in which the communication from a group member will “resonate” in another member, which will then send a relevant emotional response to the group aswell, despite having a completely different story to tell. It is a phenomenon equivalent to “free association of ideas.”
10. Mirror Gallery
Where each one reflects himself and is reflected in the other, providing a possibility to discriminate, affirm and consolidate its own identity.
11. Containment Function
A cohesive, well-built group will play an important role in the containment of the anxieties and needs of each of its members.
It is important to notice that many aspects of the group field are still hidden and enigmatic. We should never forget that shame, fear of rejection, and the culture in which each individual is inserted, will always interfere with his or her development within the group and, therefore, with the others’ aswell.
ZIMERMAN, David E., OSORIO, Luiz Carlos & Col. (1997). Como Trabalhamos com Grupos. (How to work with groups) Porto Alegre: Artes Médicas.