Behavioural therapists have identified two primary goals of group therapy. These are process goals and outcome goals. Process goals refer to goals that are related to the group process. For example, process goals can be to help members improve their comfort level in the group, to increase openness in the group, and to learn to confront members in a more productive manner (Jacobs, Masson & Harvill, 2006).

Outcome goals on the other hand are goals that affect the behaviour changes in the member’s life such as obtaining employment, improving interpersonal relationships and successfully addressing whatever issues that the member presented with for group therapy. Therapy groups that focus primarily on the members concerns are usually more beneficial than those that focus on the interactions of the group members (Jacobs, Masson & Harvill, 2006). However, for the more robust effectiveness of any group therapy, the therapist should focus on both process and outcome goals.

Models of Group Therapy

Interpersonal Group Therapy

The focus in this form of group therapy is based on the premise of interpersonal learning being a primary mechanism of change. The group provides the antidotes to maladaptive interpersonal beliefs and behaviours through feedback from others and encouragement to experiment with healthier alternative behaviours, first within the group and then outside the group. The shared examination of inter group transference reactions allows members to replace processes of relating that have a historical origin in the ‘there and then’ (the dynamic past) with those more appropriate to the ‘here and now’ (dynamic present).

The Tavistock Model

According to this model, the culture and climate of a group is governed by primitive unconscious anxieties that ultimately can impede the group’s capacity for rational work. This is a therapist centred approach with the focus on techniques that enforce a series of interactions to reduce the complexity and the constraints of the group work.

The Group Analytic Model

Group Analysis is a method of group psychotherapy that combines psychoanalytic insights with an understanding of social and interpersonal functioning. It has a specific focus on the relationships between the individual group members. Deriving from psychoanalysis, Group Analysis also draws on a range of other psychotherapeutic traditions and approaches. This includes systems theory other psychotherapies, developmental psychology and social psychology. From this emerges what some group therapists consider a powerful psychotherapeutic technique.

The assumption of this model is that deep lasting change can occur within a carefully formed group whose combined membership reflects the wider norms of society. A stimulating interaction between group members becomes the focus of treatment and therapeutic work by building an understanding of group interactions, conversations and events to facilitate a powerful way each group member learns about themselves (Aviv, 2010).