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Title: What is the nature of the therapeutic encounter in an adolescent psychotherapy group?
Author: Maxwell, Monique
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 8819
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2016
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This study takes as its subject the clinical work with 7 older adolescents who attended for once-weekly psychoanalytic group psychotherapy, and focuses retrospectively on the first 15 months of this intervention, in which the researcher was a co-therapist. The clinical process notes formed the data set. The starting point for this thesis is our conception of an inherent, developmental relationship to groups, and to the intersubjective relating that exists in human beings. It then moves on to the psychoanalytic thinking about groups and the emotional disturbance that emerged during World War II found in the work of WR Bion and SH Foulkes. It further examines literature on adolescence as a developmental process, adolescent breakdown, and the particular psychosocial risks and challenges of later adolescence. The intrinsic complexity in the data precipitated initial conceptualisations – for example, borrowing Foulkes’ notion of figure-ground - to help apprehend the material. Then, using a form of Grounded Theory, the data set was examined methodically. This evidenced how members brought complex, changing constellations of feeling, and mental and bodily states to the group. Analysis revealed relational and developmental predicaments which would interweave inter-relationally at both conscious and unconscious levels. Using both narrative and tabular forms of presentation, it is demonstrated how this shared, multi-dimensional matrix of iv relationship and communication created the bedrock of the group therapeutic encounter. Emotional and psychological growth developed in the context of members’ capacities to bear emotional knowledge, and hold emotional states over time as individual preoccupations became less pressing within a heuristic relational encounter within the group. This conferred to the group the qualities of Bollas’ ‘transformational object’, while the matrix itself linked with Stern’s primary inter subjective matrix. It is suggested that group psychotherapy has much to offer young people whose relational and psychosocial struggles can be explored in the safety and stability of the clinical group setting.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Prof.) Qualification Level: Doctoral