The Group Psychotherapy Session Paper

The Group Psychotherapy Session Paper

A Group Psychotherapy Session for Older Clients: Stage of Group, Issues of Concern, and Therapeutic Measures to Address the Issues The Group Psychotherapy Session Paper

The Group Psychotherapy Session

According to the American Nurses Association, ANA (2014) group therapy is one of the forms of psychotherapy; alongside other individual therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) amongst others. Payne and Marcus (2008) have confirmed empirically that group psychotherapy is indeed beneficial to adults who are older. This group session of psychotherapy followed the same pattern and had the same characteristics like any other group therapy session. The only difference is that the members of the group are older adults. This particular demographic makes this group acquire some unique characteristics that then differentiate this group from any others. For instance, older people are slower in learning, are looking for relevance in life, and also have organic factors affecting their psychological functioning (Payne & Marcus, 2008). This particular group of older adults was at the group stage of jostling for space. This is the second stage of group formation that is also referred to as storming (MindTools, n.d.; Hansen, 2015). It is in this stage of group formation that a clash of personalities usually occurs, and most problems arise out of that.

The resistances and issues that arose, therefore, included that some group members wanted to drop out of the group because they could not get along with another group member (lack of cohesiveness) and confusion as to purpose in the group in majority of members (Overholser, 2005). These problems were magnified by the fact that the group is still at the storming stage, as mentioned above. When these challenges occur in a group, the onus as usual is normally on the therapist to provide guidance and leadership; even as they employ the necessary therapeutic techniques to resolve them. Among these therapeutic techniques or curative factors are instillation of hope, catharsis, self-understanding, universality, and altruism or helping others (Overholser, 2005). In this particular case, the two therapeutic techniques that were employed by the therapist or facilitator to tackle the emerging resistance and issues were catharsis and interpersonal learning (Overholser, 2005). According to professor of psychiatry at Stanford University Dr. Irvin D. Yalom, the most important therapeutic factor in group psychotherapy is interpersonal learning (Overholser, 2005). The therapist in this case encouraged catharsis or verbal expression by those that wanted to leave the group because of interpersonal conflict. Being allowed to express themselves proved to be therapeutic. Also, the search for identity and purpose was tackled by interpersonal learning which enabled the group members to learn from each other and realise that they share a lot in common.


Challenges Occurring when Working with this Group   

There are several challenges that are bound to occur when working with this psychotherapy group for older adults. For starters, this is a group of adults who are past their middle age and who are battling with issues of existence and looking for meaning in life. Many are struggling with social isolation and self-pity. All this produces a recipe for strong interpersonal conflicts that may be difficult to deal with. Therefore, the challenges that may occur with this group include lack of cohesiveness and a slow pace of learning (Payne & Marcus, 2008). Lack of cohesiveness is a result of interpersonal conflicts as noted above. Slow pace of learning, on the other hand, is a function of the deteriorating state of organic and cognitive functions of the adult persons. To tackle this, the therapist makes adjustments accordingly to suit the group characteristics. For instance, she repeats sentences severally in oral sessions and writes in larger fonts for written material, so that the group members can follow treatment easily (Payne & Marcus, 2008). The Group Psychotherapy Session Paper


American Nurses Association [ANA] (2014). Psychiatric-mental health nursing: Scope and standards of practice, 2nd ed. Silver Spring, MD: ANA.

Hansen, S. (2015). Five Stages of Group Development. Retrieved from

MindTools (n.d.). Forming, storming, norming, and performing: Understanding the stages of team formation. Retrieved from

Overholser, J.C. (2005). Group psychotherapy and existential concerns: An interview with Irvin Yalom. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 35(2), 185-197. Doi: 10.1007/s10879-005-2699-7

Payne, K.T. & Marcus, D.K. (2008). The efficacy of group psychotherapy for older adult clients: A meta-analysis. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 12(4), 268–278. Doi: 10.1037/a0013519. The Group Psychotherapy Session Paper

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