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Understanding Your Countertransference

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1. Understanding Your Countertransference. As a group leader, you too have feelings! You might also have unfinished emotional business in your own life that could blur your objectivity at times in working with others who strike a chord in you. Put yourself into the following situations to see how any of them might fit for you. After you consider these situations, try to identify any areas where your unresolved personal issues might get in your way with certain group members.

a. You tend to over-identify with clients. You think about their problems after the group, and you have a difficult time separating their problems from your problems.

b. You get impatient with members who hold values divergent from yours. You find yourself trying to convince certain members what they should believe and do, and you have a hard time letting them decide for themselves.

c. You find yourself giving frequent advice. You tell others what they should do instead of letting them struggle for themselves.

2. Your Most Difficult Group Member. Think about a form of resistance that you expect you’d have the most problem in dealing with, or a particular problem behavior of a group member. Write about what factors within you make this behavior particularly troubling and write about how you expect to deal with this person therapeutically. Put the focus on yourself, particularly with respect to sources of counter transference. (2 paragraphs)

3. Group Membership Issue. Write on one specific issue, question, topic, problem, or concern of interest to you (as it pertains to group membership), and then build your response around this topic. (Select a topic from the textbook.) (2 paragraphs)

4. Dealing with an Entire Group’s Resistance. Imagine the following scenario in which your entire group seems to be colluding in the formation of patterns of resistance. A number of mem­bers accuse you of being very “pushy.” They say that you continually confront them on their not doing enough in the group, not showing enough emotion, and not bringing in personal problems for exploration. You agree with them that you have been challenging them, yet you also let them know about the resistances you see in the group. It appears almost that the group is becoming a cohesive unit as they rally against your leadership.

What are some ways you can think of to deal with the group’s resistance? How could you express yourself without becoming defensive? How do you think you might feel if you were attempting to lead a group and you were convinced there were many subgroups that were making progress difficult? What kinds of interventions can you think of to deal with an entire group’s resistance?

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