Group psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy where one or more psychotherapists treat people within a group setting. The group context and process is used as the mechanism for change. It is through the development, interaction, exploration and examination of the group, facilitated by the therapist/s, that understanding, self-awareness, and an ability to improve the individual's situation occurs. The group itself creates at its core something individual and special; both greater and unique to the clients comprising the group. It is this centre of transformative power which aids the healing processes of the group members. Group psychotherapy is effective at least in part because forming relationships and being social are an essential aspect of human nature.
AIMS OF THE AAGP
- To encourage the training of competent psychoanalytic group psychotherapists
- To establish and maintain high standards in clinical practice
- To provide a forum for the exchange of ideas among qualified mental health professionals practicing in psychoanalytic group psychotherapy
- To promote continuing education and research in the field of group psychotherapy
history and membership
The Australian and New Zealand Association of Group Psychotherapists was founded in Melbourne in 1973 by Drs Francis Graham, Ian Martin, OHD Blomfield, Bill Orchard and George Lipton. The first president was Dr. Graham who had pioneered psychoanalytic group psychotherapy in Australia. Discussion was initiated by Dr. Martin in response to the growing need for trained and competent group therapists among health professionals. The Association grew from this foundation and gradually extended to membership in Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane. Members have a postgraduate clinical qualification usually in psychology, psychiatry or social work.
The criterion for selection of original members was membership of the American Group Psychoanalytic Association (AGPA) or GAS (London). Requirements for subsequent election to membership, and the development of a Training Programme, were modelled on those of the AGPA, and influence by the philosophy of the Tavistock Clinic, London. Most founding members were psychoanalysts or in psychoanalytic training, with Ezriel, Bion and Foulkes a strong background component. From these theoretical strands the Australian individual style evolved. Principles established by the initial steering committee were later built into the Constitutions.
In December 1987 the name was changed to The Australian Association of Group Psychotherapists (AAGP), and three years later the AAGP was Incorporated. Training courses were inaugurated in Melbourne, and with experience and a broader range of teachers, have grown in sophistication. Eventually Adelaide and Brisbane developed training courses. A national training program has been running since early 2013.
In the early years the AAGP was a Foreign Affiliate Association of the AGPA with links to GAS (London). Our Association is now an Organisational Affiliate of the International Association of Group Psychotherapists (IAGP) and our members and trainees are encouraged to hold individual membership of the IAGP, as well as Group Analytic Society (GAS, London). We have been members of the European Group-Analytic Training Institutions Network (EGATIN) for many years and have recently attained the 'Qualifying Level' of membership in recognition of the high standard of our National Training Program. This is the highest of three levels of membership.
We are currently participating in the formation of a Confederation of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies with other psychoanalytic psychotherapy organisations nationally. Through mutual psychoanalytic interests we have established cordial links with the Melbourne Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Victorian Association of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapists with some members of the AAGP also having membership in these Associations.