Somatic Interventions Aren’t Just For Clients

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

For Psychotherapists Leading Groups

bodywisdomDo you find yourself frightened by the idea of leading groups?  Working with groups, including families, is daunting for many therapists.  It’s challenging work because we have to manage many different people with their multitude of reactions, emotions and defenses. Each member of the family or group sees life from his particular perspective and that viewpoint needs to be respected and examined.  We also have to understand the power of the group mind and be able to recognize the impact it has on all members of the group including ourselves.  All of these enlivening details make groups exciting and interesting and, yes, very complicated.  Add to all of this the fact that you, the leader, come in with your own group injuries and fears from the past.  The fearfulness that you might have about leading groups most likely comes from your own developmental injuries that occurred in your group history which ranges from your family of origin through school, church, sports teams, etc.  That fear walks in the room with you, sits beside you and tells you what to watch out for.  It can also blur your vision of the present with flashes from your past.


In the process of working with therapists on their counter-transference in groups and families, we have found that often their group of origin (GOO) represents their “first failure” and that the powerless feeling that was experienced as a child can get triggered for the therapist in the group session.  Then, we are at the mercy of our past experience and it can be difficult to lead the group towards new experiences and solutions in present time.  As children we were dependent on our original group and lacked the strength or power to change the dysfunctional dynamics even if we could see what those dynamics were.

As a therapist leading groups, these “failures” can get triggered rendering you insecure and doubting your clarity and ability to make a difference.  When you are in the middle of this counter-transference reaction, it’s easy to forget that the circumstances are different in present time and that you have your adult power and resources that you didn’t have before.  The role that you are currently in offers the possibility that you can redirect the energy, shine light on the dynamics and change the outcome in a new and more functional way than in the past.

Somatic techniques and practices provide ways to stay in present time and therefore stay connected to your current clarity and power.  There are somatically based therapeutic interventions that can slow down the process and sort out the present from the past leading to more understanding of what is actually happening in the moment.  This differentiation provides the opportunity to get out of our own way and facilitate a satisfying healing process for our group members.

For more information about Somatics in Group Psychotherapy go to and check out our workshops or read our articles at
Written By Kitty Chelton MFT and Theresa Beldon MFT