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1999 All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use of this material is prohibited .

By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.
-W. H. Auden

This booklet explains what Experiential Group Therapy is, how it compliments the work of Recovery, and the impact it can have on your emotional and spiritual development. The information contained in this booklet has evolved out of my thirteen years of research and clinical practice with people in Recovery for Chemical Dependency, ACOA, Co-dependency, Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Eating Disorder, and Sexual Addiction. I developed my Experiential Group Therapy program from thirteen years of working with people who wanted to expand and enrich their Recovery, get beyond the limits created by the vicious cycle of self-sabotage behavior, crisis oriented living, fear of intimacy, interpersonal mistrust, emotional paralysis, procrastination, and unfulfilled personal and professional potential.

You know as well as I do that the emotional consequences of your self-imposed interpersonal prison is despair, loneliness, depression, anxiety, addiction, anger, and shame. But be encouraged, thousands of people in Recovery have benefited from the programs that I’ve developed. They’ve discovered how to heal the relationship that they have with their Self, transform the relationships they have with the people in their life, and developed a significant relationship with their higher power. I appreciate your interest in my programs and I hope that this information in some way inspires you to take the most important first step of your life. 

 Experiential Group Therapy:
An Essential Facilitator of
Healing and Personal Growth

Experiential Group Therapy is a uniquely powerful growth process that facilitates personal growth and healing. Experiential Group Therapy helps to alleviate feelings of alienation, isolation, despair, and hopelessness. Experiential Group Therapy fosters a unique experience that will afford you the opportunity to achieve a better understanding of who you are, how other people experience who you are, the interpersonal strengths that you possess and how well you utilize those strengths, and the interpersonal blindspots and how you perpetuate patterns of behavior that tend to sabotage your interpersonal goals. Listed below are a number of developmental tasks that you will negotiate in Experiential Group Therapy. Experiential Group Therapy powerfully facilitates an experience which will support your efforts:

1) to learn who you are in the context of an interpersonal situation-how you think, feel, and act in characteristic interpersonal situations and how others characteristically  think, feel, and act toward you.

2) to learn how to trust yourself and others.

3) to foster self-knowledge and the development of a unique sense of identity that will allow you to feel whole, empowered, and worthwhile.

4) to reduce the sense of shame and isolation that you feel by learning from others that you are not the only one in this world that feels the way that you feel.

5) to reduce shame through the development of self-acceptance, self-confidence, and self-respect in order to redefine how you think about yourself.

6) to alleviate the chaos and turmoil in your life by learning alternative ways of resolving normal developmental challenges and conflicts.

7) to create the type of life you’ve always wished for yourself through increased self-direction, autonomy, and responsibility toward yourself and the people in your life.

 8) to exercise a new sense of personal power through acquiring the awareness of one’s choices, and to make those choices wisely.

 9) to learn more effective social skills.

 10)  to develop the ability to be supportive of others and thus receive more emotional support in your life through the ability to be more sensitive to the needs and feelings of others.

 11)  to make specific plans for changing certain behaviors and to commit oneself to follow through with these plans.

 12) to learn how to confront others with care, concern, honesty, and directness.

 13) to develop your own life by moving away from merely meeting others’ expectations and to learn to live by your own expectations.

 14) to discover your own genuine self through the development of a value system based upon who you are and will continue to become.

Objectives of Experiential Group Therapy

A good personal growth program  is built with a clear conception of  goals. This program has five long-term growth objectives. These objectives are:

 1) change of a specific problem behavior, such as poor interpersonal skills.

 2) insight or a clear rational and emotional understanding of your strengths and problems.

 3) change in your subjective emotional comfort, including changes in anxiety or tension.

 4) change in your self-perception, including goals, self-confidence, and sense of adequacy.

 5) change in your  life-style.


Experiential Group Therapy
 as Compared to other Group Therapy Formats

Experiential Group Therapy is uniquely different than the many different types of groups that exist today. Group therapy exists within the context of  many different formats, focuses, and purposes. Some group formats are designed to provide peer support by maximizing the opportunity for an individual to talk and minimizing the interaction of the group members. Another type of group format focuses on specific topics that seek to provide an educational experience through structured topic discussions. A third type of group focus is one in which a forum is provided for emotional ventilation by focusing on the “war stories” of the group member’s past. A fourth type is a group that attempts to provide solutions to members’ life issues by focusing on a discussion of the life issues and offering advice so as to “fix” the problem.

Experiential Group Therapy differs greatly from the above mentioned group therapy formats. My Experiential Group Therapy format serves more complex and encompassing goals than those listed above. The incredible power of Experiential Group Therapy transcends the more one dimensional aspects of the above mentioned group formats. The purpose of Experiential Group Therapy is to explore the intrapersonal and interpersonal world of the group’s members. The purpose of this exploration is to identify self-sustaining patterns of behavior that serve you well, to identify self-defeating patterns of behavior that perpetuate cycles of self-sabotage, and to alleviate the pain and suffering associated with these self-defeating patterns. Participation in this process will allow you to develop a more healthy life style based upon emotional honesty with yourself and others, a deeper understanding of who you are, a deeper understanding of your behavioral choices and the hidden goals that they serve, and finally self-responsibility for getting your needs met.  

Experiential Group Therapy is a powerful agent of change because it is an ACTIVE LEARNING EXPERIENCE. The unique dynamics of group therapy combine to help the motivated individual transcend the attitudes, beliefs, and rigid patterns of behavior established over a lifetime. The mutual support of the other group members provides you with a sense of safety and belonging that allows you to take risks and grow as a result of your new risk taking behaviors. The lifting of depression and anxiety associated with isolation and alienation results from the sense of belonging developed in the group. Despair and hopelessness diminish as you share in the growth and development of other group members. Passive learning through reading and thinking are replaced by active experiential learning. Active experiential learning facilitates a learning experience that allows the you to incorporate new ways of feeling, thinking, and behaving into your new lifestyle.

The Benefits Of  Experiential Group Therapy

You will be able to use Experiential Group Therapy to make new choices about old patterns of behavior that are no longer working as well for you and reinforce those patterns of behavior that are allowing you to get your needs met. Out of these new choices, you can expect to develop a lifestyle that is congruent with the goals that you have established for yourself. Emotional intimacy, professional development, and a higher sense of purpose are easily obtainable once you master a few of the rudimentary goals mentioned.

How Experiential Group Therapy
Facilitates The Achievement of
Your Personal Growth Goals

Experiential Group Therapy fosters the achievement of these goals in the following ways:

1.) by providing an opportunity for you to develop  a deeper understanding of who you are as an individual and as a participant in a larger interpersonal context.

2.) by providing you the opportunity to acquire an awareness of your level of competence in interpersonal skills.

3.) by providing you the opportunity to acquire and develop fundamental interpersonal skills.

4.) by providing you the opportunity to change the way you act interpersonally in ways that you consider important for yourself (including shedding those patterns that are self-defeating and developing more self-supporting behavior).

5.) by providing you with feedback from other group members. This component is essential for change because feedback is an important “AGENT OF CHANGE”.

The Basic Agents of Change
Contained Within The Group Process:
Social Microcosm, Experiential Learning,
The Here-and-Now, and Exploration
of Your Interpersonal World

The group process exists as its own social microcosm. This dynamic is crucial to the facilitation of healing and growth for the group members. Within the context of this social microcosm, you will  experience and manifest interpersonal relationships similar to those that you experience in  your everyday life. Given enough time, every group member will begin to be himself/herself. Group members will interact with each other the way they do in their own social sphere. Thus, you will get to experience first hand those interpersonal patterns of behavior that support your personal growth and those interpersonal patterns that sabotage your personal growth. The corrective experience of having a safe place to make those choices can not be overstated in its therapeutic importance.

The next two dynamics of Experiential Group Therapy that enhance its powerfulness is the emphasis of  EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING provided through an exclusive focus on the HERE-AND-NOW. The premise of this powerful agent of change is that the past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. Most people distance themselves from the here-and-now present. Rumination about the past or engaging in endless plans and resolutions for the future are examples of how this is accomplished. Because Experiential Group Therapy is an experiential process, not a verbal or interpretive process, the group members are encouraged to make contact with each other and their experience in the immediacy of the moment.

Because the focus is on what you experience in the here-and-now and the blocks that you must overcome to achieve full awareness of the here-and-now, you will be challenged to risk more and more. You will be challenged to learn how you create emotional intimacy, to learn how you avoid emotional intimacy, interpersonal connectiveness, and taking responsibility for getting your needs met. An important part of your learning experience will be to develop and utilize your internal resources as opposed to relying solely on your external world for support, comfort, and responsibility for your well-being.

The healing process emerges out of the context of  your  ability to live in the here-and-now. The ability to separate the here-and-now from the there-and-then for yourself is a crucial part of the process of healing. As you become more adept at living in the here-and-now and acquiring a clearer perception of the blocks and conflicts involved that have removed you from the here-and-now, significant unfinished business emerges. The underlying assumption of the Experiential Group Therapy is that the way to become an autonomous person is to identify and deal with this unfinished business from the past that interferes with your current functioning. By reexperiencing past conflicts as if they were occurring in the present, you will be able to expand your level of awareness, sometimes gradually and sometimes explosively, and thereby be able to face, recognize, and integrate denied and fragmented parts of yourself, thus becoming unified and whole.

The fourth agent of change is the EXPLORATION OF THE INTERPERSONAL WORLD of the group members. This dimension is crucial to your growth process. The following list enumerates the reasons that this dimension is explored: 

1) you are by nature a social individual who is relational and longs for a place of interpersonal belonging and safety, validation, acceptance, importance, and well-being characterized by being able to get one’s emotional needs met in a relationship.

2.) who you are as an individual is the relatively enduring pattern of recurrent interpersonal situations which characterize your life.

3.) emotional intimacy is a pivotal criterion of emotional and psychological well-being. The ability to achieve and maintain emotional closeness with others is a uniquely important index of emotional wellness.

4) interpersonal avoidance is central to psychological dysfunction.
Avoidance of whatever triggers off unpleasant emotions may not be the origin of all emotional turmoil and dysfunction but it certainly    
seems to perpetuate a large amount of emotional pain and loneliness.

5) unhealthy behavior is the consequence of self-defeating patterns in interpersonal relationships that are motivated by fear, self-protection, control, and avoidance. These patterns are characterized by turmoil, chaos, blame, shame, addiction, and fear.

6) unhealthy relationships are a product of disordered interpersonal
behavior and the blending of the there-and-then with the here-and-now.

7) avoidance of the here-and-now perpetuates a life of loneliness, depression, anxiety, obsessional/ addictive behavior, emotional avoidance or numbness, confusion, and separation from your genuine-self.

8) the issues of the group process, while unique to the group, in many ways mirror the issues that are currently being experienced by you in your life.

9) who you are in the group is no different than who you are elsewhere. Because of this   you will recreate in the group experience everything that you have created elsewhere in your life; in the most distant past being your childhood and the most recent past being your adult life.

Examples of How Experiential Group
Therapy Therapy Works

     The following poem by Portia Nelson is an excellent metaphor for how Experiential Group Therapy facilitates change.

 1) I walk down the street.
       There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
        I fall in.
        I am lost ... I am hopeless.
           It isn’t my fault.
   It takes forever to find a way out.


2) I walk down the same street.
        There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
         I pretend I don’t see it.
         I fall in again.
         I can’t believe I am in the same place.
              But, it isn’t my fault.
         It still takes a long time to get out.  

3) I walk down the same street.
        There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
         I see it is there.
         I still fall in ... it’s a habit.
            My eyes are open
             I know where I am.
      It is my fault
      I get out immediately.


4) I walk down the same street.
       There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
     I walk around it.


5) I walk down another street.

Experiential Group Therapy facilitates an experience much like the poem above. You will experience all the familiar holes that you fall into in your life in the group. You will be constantly challenged by your participation to learn about those holes and how it is that you wind up back in them. Through your interpersonal learning, you will develop other strategies to not make the hole, not fall into the hole, be able to walk around the hole, and ultimately walk down another street.

The following short story provides a second way of understanding how Experiential Group Therapy can effect powerful and long-lasting changes in your life.

One morning, Eve decided it was time to clean her fishbowl. Unable to find a container in which to put her two fish, Yin and Yang, while the bowl was being cleaned, Eve let about two inches of water into her bathtub, and lovingly placed the little creatures there. When she finished scrubbing the bowl and putting the ceramic deep-sea diver in a new position, Eve returned to find Yin and Yang engaged in a very thought provoking behavior: the two fish were swimming around in one little corner of the bathtub, in a circle no bigger than the fishbowl!!

In many ways, we humans are like the fish. We develop patterns, our habits, and our taught lifestyles (which we have adopted from families and friends), and then, when we have the chance to go beyond them to discover a new and freer dimension, we prefer to remain in our tiny corner of the world, though it offers us little joy, a lot of anxiety, and no expansiveness.

Experiential Group Therapy is very much like the story of the two fish. The group is very much like the bathtub. It allows you to live in an expanded environment that takes you beyond the confines of your rigid habits, attitudes, values, and beliefs about yourself and others. It allows you to observe yourself firsthand how you either restrict yourself to old ways in a new environment or how you take risks and discover a bigger interpersonal world for yourself.

Growth Areas Activated By
Experiential Group Therapy
Awareness is facilitated by participation in the group process. Awareness is the process of recognizing what one is thinking about and what one is feeling, sensing, and doing. Awareness should not be confused with introspection or insight. Self-awareness is facilitated by you expressing yourself in the group. Expressing your own unique feelings and your subjective views of the world is done largely through verbal and non-verbal behavioral communication. The focus is on the here-and-now-so that you can become increasingly aware of the unknown dimensions of  your behaviors, emotions, and thoughts. Responsibility and self-determination is another dimension of development facilitated by the group process. Self-determination means that you are free to choose among alternatives. Implied in this freedom of choice is the idea of self-responsibility for directing your life and the capacity to shape your destiny. A primary tension of the group experience is being confronted with having to constantly choose the kind of person you want to become and then behaving in such a manner.

     A third dimension of development facilitated by the group process is the continued discovery of meaning and the development of a new value system. Discarding old values without finding new and more suitable ones to replace them is a concern that many group members share. Some people live by a value system that they have never challenged and that was handed down to them and merely incorporated. Thus, an important part of the group experience is that you will be confronted by your life choices and the values that these choices are predicated upon. You may not be responsible for having acquired values that don’t support your  life choices today, but the group process certainly challenges you to choose for the first time perhaps, your own values that support your life choices for today.Authenticity is an important developmental aspect that serves your personal growth. Being authentic means doing whatever is necessary to define and affirm yourself. By leading an authentic life, you will be better able to become the individual that you are capable of becoming. Authenticity is surrendered by giving up the quest for self-identification, by submerging one’s identity into a relationship, and by allowing others to determine who and what you will become. This type of individual is finely tuned to what others expect of him/her. The group experience challenges you to step out of that trap and develop a sense of personal empowerment.

The Importance of The Development
 of Effective Interpersonal Skills

     Personal growth and healing is predicated upon the ability of you being able to satisfy your emotional needs. Interpersonal skills are the tools that you utilize in order to achieve that end. By developing the ability to express yourself, to respond to others, to place legitimate demands on others, and to open yourself up to being influenced by others, these skills help you to satisfy two primary needs. Those needs are safety needs and esteem needs.


Safety needs: this refers to the need that all individuals have to feel safe in their world. This safety is grounded in the belief that the individual’s world is secure, orderly, dependable, and free from threat.


Esteem needs: the need for both self-respect (for instance, the kind of self-respect that comes from a sense of interpersonal competence) and for respect from others.

The ability to satisfy these needs in your interpersonal life will greatly enhance how you feel about yourself, how you believe others feel about you, and ultimately how safe and secure you experience your life to be.

From an interpersonal perspective, your self-esteem and fundamental sense of security in the world are a function of your sense of potential interpersonal relatedness. Conversely, you experience anxiety when this sense of security or interpersonal relatedness is threatened. Thus, out of your need for security, you create either healthy functional relationships that allow for a wide range of choices or an unhealthy dysfunctional range of behaviors that create rigid self-defeating behaviors. For example, the individual who anticipates that other people will be aggressive, as a result constantly acts in a self-protective, aggressive fashion. Another example would be the individual who anticipates that others are untrustworthy, and as a result is suspicious or has difficulty trusting other people.

People who feel that their lives are working for them the way they want their life to be working for them tend to come to expect that satisfying interpersonal relationships are reasonably attainable. This expectation allows you to feel and act in a wide range of ways without jeopardizing your emotional safety and well-being. Through feeling safe and competent in your  interpersonal world, you are better able to process a wide range of emotions. This is an important formula for being able to get one’s emotional needs met. In contrast, the individual with rigid expectations of other people and a highly restrictive sense of how he or she must maintain interpersonal relatedness will be characterized by rigid, restrictive, stereotypic interpersonal patterns.


I have attempted to explain the philosophy from which I have created Experiential Group Therapy program that I have developed. I have seen many people use this process as a springboard for creating the things in their lives that they only dared dream about before. The participants in these groups have discovered the skills and the essential parts of who they are to create relationships with people that are caring, nurturing, and supportive, not destructive, shaming, and blaming. They have been able to develop relationships that have allowed them to experience new found freedom through empowerment, autonomy, emotional conncectiveness, and genuineness. The sense of despair, alienation, fear, loneliness, that brought them into this process has been replaced with hopefulness, confidence, self-direction, and accomplishment.

I feel certain that the role of my Experiential Group Therapy program is nothing more than a facilitator of the dormant potential that lies in all the participants in the program. There is nothing magical about the process, only something magical about the potential that lies in you. By discovering that potential and activating it in a safe environment, thousands have benefited from their active participation in my Experiential Group Therapy. YOU ARE NOT ANY DIFFERENT OR LESS DESERVING OF THE SAME OUTCOME FOR YOURSELF!!!!!!!!!!!!

look forward to hearing from you and starting our work together.

 Appendix A
The Behavioral Contract of

Experiential Group Therapy

     The following is the actual behavioral contract that is used in the six groups. Please read this carefully as it may help you get a better understanding of the concrete things that all group members agree to engage in.


As you enter this group experience, you contract for a threefold goal.


1. Exploration: You will use your time in the group, first of all, to examine your own interpersonal style. This process is designed to help you come to a practical awareness of your characteristic ways of relating to others, including both your effective styles and your self-defeating styles.


2. Experimentation: You will also use your time to alter your interpersonal style in ways you deem appropriate. One mode of altering will be to check out and strengthen basic interpersonal skills. Your work in the group should help you consolidate and develop your interpersonal strengths while beginning to work at eliminating or coming to grips with the means by which you self-sabotage your personal goals and relationships.


3. The Here-And-Now: The focus of the group will be a very narrow time frame called the here-and-now. This focus is on what is happening to the individual and the group at the moment. The concentration is on the action and interaction as it develops in the group. This orientation brings out members’ feelings and thoughts that are part of their present awareness and deals with current behavior. It maintains that what individuals are like in the group is representative of their personalities and actions outside the group. The basic assumption is that personality is consistent in human beings and that the group can use what occurs in the group as material for helping members resolve problems outside the group. The here-and-now provides a common starting point and is a necessary component of any effort to increase self-knowledge and improve social adequacy. 

The Two Symbiotic
Dimensions of The Here-And-Now

     It is vitally important to emphasize that the here-and-now is effective only when the two symbiotic dimensions, neither of which has any therapeutic power without the other, are being utilized by group members. If the group is to be effective both parts of the here-and-now must be utilized by the group. A powerful process of EXPERIENCING without self-examination does not create learning. Self-examination, through ILLUMINATION OF THE PROCESS, without a powerful EXPERIENCING, creates a sterile intellectual exercise that fosters rigidity, stereotyped behavior, and a lack of growth.


1)  DIMENSION ONE: EXPERIENCING: The first dimension is an “experiencing one”: the members live in the here-and-now; they develop strong feelings toward the other group members, the therapist, and the group. These here-and-now feelings become a major subject for the group to explore. The focus is ahistoric: the immediate events in the group take precedence over events both in the current life and in the distant past of the members. But the here-and-now focus rapidly reaches the limits of its usefulness without the second dimension, which is the illumination of the process.


2) DIMENSION TWO: ILLUMINATION OF THE PROCESS: If the powerful therapeutic factor of interpersonal learning is to be set into motion, the group must recognize, examine, and understand the events and the group members reactions to the events of the group. THE GROUP MUST EXAMINE ITSELF; IT MUST STUDY ITS OWN TRANSACTIONS; IT MUST TRANSCEND PURE EXPERIENCE AND APPLY ITSELF TO THE INTEGRATION OF THAT EXPERIENCE.

 The There-And-Then Versus
The Here-And-Now:
What is The Difference?

     Little energy is invested in recalling data from any member’s interpersonal past, and little time is spent on what takes place outside the group. Perhaps a better way of putting it is that you can certainly deal with your past or with what is going on outside the group PROVIDED THAT YOU RELATE THERE-AND-THEN MATERIAL TO WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE-AND-NOW IN THE GROUP!!!!!!!!  For instance, a person might say “Whenever my wife or children  make demands on me, I grow silent and tend to spend less time with them. Now that you people are beginning to place legitimate demands on me,  I notice the same thing happening here; I can’t withdraw physically, but I notice that I can withdraw psychologically.” In this instance, a there-and-then concern is related immediately to what is happening in the group. Since a major part of your work in the group will be concentrated on establishing and developing relationships with your fellow group members through the use of self-disclosure, it is only natural that the conversation revolve around the here-and-now.

         Self-disclosure, even when it does not deal with what is happening in the here-and-now, should in some way be related to the here-and-now.  In the group you are trying to examine and improve your interpersonal style through the process of establishing  and developing relationships with your fellow group members. This process is centered in the group and its transactions. It is not centered in any primary way in what takes place outside the group. This does not mean that you may not talk about your life outside the group. IT DOES MEAN THAT, WHEN YOU DO TALK ABOUT MATTERS FROM THE PAST OR MATTERS OUTSIDE THE GROUP, YOU SHOULD TAKE PAINS TO RELATE WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT TO WHAT IS HAPPENING WITHIN THE GROUP.

         Here are some examples of how there-and-then material can either distract from or relate effectively to the here-and-now of the group interaction:


UNRELATED SELF-DISCLOSURE: My dad and I don’t get along. He’s usually down on my brother, too. It makes living at home difficult. Sometimes I just feel like getting an apartment on my own.


RELATED SELF-DISCLOSURE: I’m reacting to you just the way I do to my dad. He doesn’t listen to me; neither do you. I feel like turning my back on you, just as I feel like getting my own apartment. You’re older, but I don’t think that has anything to do with it.


UNRELATED SELF-DISCLOSURE:  I’m an alcoholic. I don’t think society is fair to an alcoholic. But then society is threatened by a lot of things. People have to fit in, to do the things everybody else does.


RELATED SELF-DISCLOSURE: I think I trust you enough to tell you that I’m an alcoholic. The reason I’m telling you is not to have you counsel me. I feel that some of you may reject me, but I’m hoping you won’t. Since my self-identity is something big on my mind, and since I fear rejection, I felt I had to bring it up.


UNRELATED SELF-DISCLOSURE: I don’t communicate much with my wife and children, but they let me alone.


RELATED SELF-DISCLOSURE:  I don’t communicate much with my wife and children at home, and I’m falling into the same pattern here-except that you challenge me, whereas they don’t. I should begin to challenge myself.


UNRELATED SELF-DISCLOSURE:   I have many fears. I’m afraid of strong men. I’m afraid of those who don’t like me. I’m afraid I won’t succeed.


RELATED SELF-DISCLOSURE:   I  have many fears. For instance, I’m afraid of strong men, Bill, and I see you as strong. I fear rejection, and, Jane, I feel you don’t like me. I’m afraid of failure, I think I’m making a mess of this group experience. Well, it’s out in the open now.

     If the members of the group get taken up with the there-and-then concerns listed under the heading UNRELATED SELF-DISCLOSURE, the group will suffer a loss of immediacy. Therapy groups often deal extensively with such there-and-then concerns; BUT MUTUALITY , NOT PROBLEM SOLVING, IS THE FOCUS OF THE WORK IN THIS SPECIFIC EXPERIENTIAL GROUP THERAPY.



     You contract not only for the goals outlined above but also for a process to help you achieve these goals. These are the provisions of the contract.


1. Establishing and developing relationships: Your first-and overriding-means of achieving these goals is to participate actively in the process of establishing these goals and developing relationships with your fellow-group members. This process demands that:


a. In everything you do, throughout your time in the group, you are attempting to establish and develop a relationship with every other member of your group.


b. As you move through the process of attempting to establish and develop these relationships, you observe at first hand your own interpersonal style.


c. At the same time, you receive feedback from your fellow group members on your style, including your strengths and your patterns of behavior that sabotage your verbalized goals.


d. You have the opportunity to experiment with “new” behavior-that is, to attempt to alter dimensions of your interpersonal style in order to become, in your own eyes, more interpersonally effective.


2. The core interpersonal skills: You will develop a core set of basic interpersonal skills. This preliminary set of skills will include:


a. Self-presentation skills: Included here are the skills of appropriate self-disclosure, concreteness, and expression of feeling.


b. Response skills: Included here are the skills of attending and listening, the communication of empathic understanding, and the behavioral communication of genuineness and respect.


c. Challenge skills: You will develop a set of advanced skills, including skills of higher-level empathic understanding, confrontation, and immediacy (direct “you-me” talk).


d. Group-specific skills: You will develop skills that allow you to use both self-presentation and response skills in a larger group. Initiating  is more difficult in a group than in one-to-one dialogue.


Developing Relationships

     The phrase “establish and develop relationships of some closeness” will be used repeatedly throughout your group experience. In everyday language, establishing a relationship means:


       spending some time with another

       doing things with another (talking, sharing)

       beginning to feel comfortable in talking about relatively important issues

       developing a respect and perhaps a liking for another

       caring about, being concerned about another

       developing a sense of give-and-take, or mutuality, in sharing

       being willing to discuss at least certain problems with another

       feeling comfortable with another

       being willing to help another (even though you are not there primarily as a “helper”)



Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 498-5622.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


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