Weekly Group Summaries

Therapists can provide group members with weekly group summaries (a method adapted from Yalom, 1995) that they prepare following each session and mail to group members at least twenty-four hours before the next session. (All group members receive the same mailed set. To protect confidentiality and patient identity, it is imperative to use only group members’ initials throughout these summaries and to ensure that mailings accord with HIPPA guidelines.) These four- or five-page summaries include a discussion of the transactions that occurred during each session and their implications for each patient’s recovery, notes about the group process, the common interpersonal problems of those in the group, and how to use the group most effectively. Because writing group summaries can be time-intensive, an alternative may be the use of self-help manuals. In this approach, which has not received formal study, all group members receive the same self-help manuals with the instruction to read them during the course of treatment.

Interventions Informed by Group Stage Development Theory

Maintaining the important individual focus in IPT-G requires attention to developmental processes that characterize time-limited groups. The group’s developmental sequence emerges naturally, and it is essential for therapists to understand the stages of group development in order to manage the group effectively while maintaining the interpersonal focus IPT requires (see Table 20.2). Attending to normative transitions in the group intensifies cohesion, prevents premature dropout, and assists patients in making otherwise difficult interpersonal transitions. Informed therapists who can predict critical transition points across group sessions and use “stage-appropriate” interventions are more likely to effectively facilitate the work of group members.

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