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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Regression and Group Psychotherapy: Observing the Effect of the Group-as-a- Whole Interpretation on the Group Members

The aims of the thesis are to explore from a theoretical and empirical perspective the process of regression in the field of group psychotherapy, and to build up an empirical methodology to study the manifestation of regressive phenomena in sessions of therapeutic groups. The first chapter of the thesis discusses the different perspectives regarding the notion of regression in the psychoanalytic theory. From Freud onwards I describe the main theoretical and clinical aspects of this concept developed by the principal psychoanalytic schools of thought: Ego Psychology, the Independent Tradition and Kleinians. The second chapter examines how this concept has been conceived in its application to the group sphere. Thus, I explore the different ways in which the most important models of group psychotherapy conceptualise such a concept. Moreover, I build up a critical discussion on the main debates around this issue, and on how the structural characteristics of the group setting affect the essential qualities of processes of regression. Finally, in order to test these theoretical constructs, I carried out an empirical study in the field of group psychotherapy. Observing 26 sessions of group psychotherapy in four different groups, I investigated the connection between the formulation of group-as-a- whole interpretations and the elicitation of regressive phenomena. This is a pilot research that attempts both to illuminate the way in which both sets of events are linked and to create a methodological approach for the study of these variables.