Chapter 6, titled “The Psychoanalytic Approach to Groups,” details the influence that psychoanalytic theory has on group therapy. Psychoanalysis is arguably one of the most important influences: “Psychoanalytic theory has influenced most of the other models of group work presented in this textbook” (Corey, 2011, p. 126). This chapter credits Alexander Wolf with being the first psychiatrist to apply “psychoanalytic principles and techniques to groups” (Corey, 2011, p. 126). This chapter provides excellent insight into psychoanalytic theory, including different perspectives, modern trends, and developmental stages within a person’s life.
One of the most important aspects of psychoanalysis pertains to the unconscious, which “consists of those thoughts, feelings, motives, impulses, and events that are kept out of our awareness as a protection against anxiety” (Corey, 2011, p. 128). Despite being hidden, these sentiments strongly influence people’s daily lives and behavior (Corey, 2011, p. 128). This chapter also details numerous ego defenses that “are typically manifested in the pattern of interactions in the therapeutic group,” such as repression, denial, regression, projection, displacement, reaction formation, and rationalization (Corey, 2011, pp. 130-131). Many people try to resist the unconscious, and in order to work through resistance in terms of group therapy, “the therapist needs to enlist the cooperation of members” (Corey, 2011, p. 132).

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This chapter became particularly interesting when discussing various personality disorders, such as borderline and narcissistic personality disorders, which represent “the most significant developments of recent psychoanalytic theory” (Corey, 2011, p. 151). Borderline personality disorder entails personal instability and difficulty relating with others, while narcissistic personality disorder involves hypersensitivity and an absence of empathy (Corey, 2011, p. 151). In general, this chapter provided excellent insight into the power of the unconscious, and how that power can impact group therapy.

  • Corey, G. (2011). Theory & Practice of Group Counseling. Farmington Hills, MI: Cengage Learning.