Carolinas Group Psychotherapy Society
Life is Lived in Groups
Our two day workshops, and some shorter workshops, typically involve meeting in small groups as well as meeting in plenary sessions. These small groups are known as Experiential Small Groups, Process Groups, or just Small Groups.
At CGPS Workshops, these Experiential Small Groups are really the heart of our workshops. In the plenary sessions, we invite speakers to enhance our knowledge of topics that can be applied to group therapy. In the small groups, members observe themselves in the process of being in a group and, though not designed to be a therapy or discussion group, therapeutic experiences tend to happen. The groups are non-directive; that is, the leader sets no agenda, but simply holds space for whatever arises. Group leaders have different styles, based on their theoretical orientations. While the topic of the workshop might surface or come to light in the group process, it is not explicitly related or formally connected to the small groups. The purpose of the small groups is to learn about the experience of being in a group, rather than focus on the workshop topic.
Experiential learning of group process is centered in the individual being a member of a group in which the group’s primary task is for the group to study itself. This means that each person is as responsible as the next for what happens, or does not happen, in that group. The group leader offers comments as to themes, elements, and dynamics they observe as the group works to develop itself. How the group unfolds, how group norms are set for members, for whom and how leadership in the group emerges, what roles members take on, etc. are all part of group process. It is a unique opportunity for individuals to study not only how a group works, but also to learn about their own experience within an unfolding group and how members’ behavior and attitudes impact one another in a group. Participants are expected to be present for all of the small group meetings to the extent that is humanly possible.