Joining up with 'not us' staff to run adolescent groups in schools

Sayder, Suzan (2008) Joining up with 'not us' staff to run adolescent groups in schools. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 34 (1). pp. 111-126. ISSN 0075-417X

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The author describes the development of a model for working with staff members from non-psychoanalytic backgrounds to run therapeutic and therapy-like pupil groups in schools. She draws on her experience of co-facilitating groups at a London-based secondary school and uses examples from recent group work with Year 10 pupils (aged 14-15). Child psychotherapists who have shied away either from doing group work in general, or more specifically taking on group work in schools, may be encouraged to see that the underlying principles are essentially no different from those of individual therapy. Worrying and troublesome young people tend to have difficulties in their external relationships, often exhibited at school and contributing to their underachievement. Psychoanalytically informed groups such as the kind portrayed here can address this difficulty by offering a safe setting for interactions with other group participants and with the leaders to be observed, examined and challenged in the here and now. Attention is paid to primitive anxieties and the defences employed to keep them at bay, including the tendency to place individual needs before group needs when sense of self and sometimes survival itself are felt to be threatened. The aim is for participants to learn about themselves by sharing a group experience and, if successful, integrate some conflicting aspects of themselves. This model for doing group work demonstrates how child psychotherapists can make a unique and valuable contribution, provided the school environment is conducive and there is a member of staff who is open to learning a new way of working.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Adolescent groups, school groups, Applied Child Psychotherapy, Group Processes; Emotional Management
Subjects: Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Adolescents - Psychotherapy
Groups & Organisations > Group Psychotherapy

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