Leadership and Groups

 

 

 

Psychosynthesis and Group Development  ©


Beth Hammarström 

Psychosynthesis Academy, Stockholm 2006

 

Prologue

My intention is to present an understanding of leadership within the group process and group development related to psychosynthesis. I begin by presenting different theories of group process: Tom Yeomans Corona process, Michael Robbins System centered therapy, Will Schutz FIRO - Fundamental interpersonal relationship orientation, and Scott Pecks Community approach.

I have been working as a facilitator in group development with the FIRO theory for 14 years, I have studied with Tom Yeomans and Michael Robbins and have read over and over Scott Pecks book, The Different Drum where he tells of his thoughts about the development of community in groups. I go on to present my own interpretation of psychosynthesis in groups.

A discussion of intrapersonal needs according to Maslow will relate to the needs a group will have in its developmental process.

The role of the leader is discussed in relation to different phases of group development. The phenomenon of group energy is introduced to illustrate relationships and interaction in groups.

I conclude with my suggestions for changes in the work with group process at the Psychosynthesis Academy in Stockholm.

I am grateful to the Academy for encouraging us to think freely. Many of the ideas in this essay have come to me while walking in the woods and listening to the trees and the rocks. This essay is not the truth; it is an exercise in creative thinking.

 


Tom Yeomans Corona process

Tom Yeomans is an American psychiatrist trained in Psychosynthesis. [1]

Yeomans developed the concept of group work in a spiritual context after a dream that he later related to his colleagues. Over the years they developed an approach to group work called the Corona process.

 

The corona dream

“While standing there, I noticed a very bright constellation – the Corona – forming a circle of stars in the heavens, brighter than the actual constellation we see. As I watched, the stars began to emit sparkling light in all directions, while the circle held its form. Then, from deep within space came a flash of light that illumined the whole sky for several seconds, like a cosmic lightening flash. This light had a different quality than the stars light – more like laser light – and it flowed both through and around the corona of stars. It was beaded into rays and one ray struck the iris of my left eye, burning an equilateral, three dimensional triangle in it.”[2] 

 

The three dimensions

Yeomans explains the framework of the theory and practice of Spiritual Psychology based on three dimensions of a human being’s inner experience; personal, psychical and spiritual.

The three dimensions of the corona process are the corona  - the personal dimension, the shooting stars – the psychical dimension, and the cosmic lightening – the spiritual dimension.

“The personality of the group is the system of identifications and relationships of, and between its members. The psychic of the group is the collective unconscious of the members, and the psychic interplay between them, which includes individual, and group, histories and potential. The soul of the group is the organizing principle of the groups life, holding the fullest purpose and meaning possible for the group, and the potential of its mature identity and expression, both as itself and in relationship to other groups and the planet as a whole.” [3]

 

Group energy

Yeomans talks about the group energy that develops. “Perhaps the “collective” souls of the group members, or the soul of the group, was also radiating a coherent field of spiritual energy to guide and help with the group work…. and we were contacting this field and its resources for healing and creativity. If the soul was the organizing principle for the life of an individual, perhaps a group also had such an organizing principle for its life – a soul that radiated this field of energy to support and guide the group development.” Yeomans p 54 The soul of the group is like the individual’s soul – our guiding star, which holds our purpose in life.

 

Corona process phases and leadership role

The phases of the corona process can be seen in relation to the role of the leader who acts as a facilitator.

Gathering – in the initial phase the leader has an authoritative role, takes initiative and helps the group to be present to experiences. The leader gives structure, boundaries and norms while establishing a focus and purpose for the group work and giving a sense of protection and safety.  Every experience that comes into the room is needed. It is important that each person be true to his or her own experience. The result is that the group members feel included, safe and honored.

Circle – in the next phase the leader illustrates a nonjudgmental attitude, accepting and recognizing differences and encouraging polarities to develop. Group guidelines are reinforced, as the need for them comes up in the group work and the leader will acknowledge and remind the group of purpose in order to establish the container. Exercises and meditations are used to encourage the development of the group soul.

Working – in the working phase the group goes from an “I/we focus” to a ”we focus”. There will be a lot of creative tension, reorganization and transformation expressed through confusion and intensity. At the end the intensity can become unbearable. Here it is important that the leader actively aids in conflict resolution when the conflicts escalate to a stage where they are not constructive for group work, but this does not mean that solutions are given. The right decision or resolution will emerge between the opponents with proper mediation.

The leader releases more of leadership to the group by sharing the observing function, and sharing the intention to develop purpose.

Resolutiona common consciousness is apparent and a coherent group is evident in the group soul. There is a sense of community and group responsibility. The focus is now we/I; I am part of a group and I am an individual. The leader will acknowledge this emerging pattern and affirm a new meaning. Leadership is shared, there is a sense of equality in leadership and responsibilities are shared. Intensity is released as creativity flows. There is cause for celebration.

Expression – In this phase the group will need to take action and express it’s purpose. There is a risk that a group will bog down in internal admiration if not given an external purpose. The leader will support extroversion by guiding and helping with details to establish a relationship to the community.

 

The role of the leader

Yeomans describes the role of the leader as an ally to the soul that needs to do the work. Some times he/she will need to provide direction and structure, at other times let go of any structure and intention for the group. This is a complex role that is structured after the group’s maturity or phase of development. When the group soul is apparent, and this can be seen in relationships within the group, the leader can back off and let the soul take over.

“Leadership within a spiritual context seemed different, for the leader here was intent on cooperating with the soul of the group and with a process that he/she could neither control nor ever fully understand. Further, this leader was not outside, or above, this process, but was part of it with everyone else, and seemed only to have a initial role as an agent to get it started and guide it until the spiritual connection was strong enough to direct the group in its work and life through others as well as the leader. Leadership, thus, was gradually decentralized and shared, given the needs of the group, rather than invested forever in one person only. The leader here had to learn to let go of authority and power as much as use it in the service of this corona process and the group soul. He/ she had to learn to accept and work with a great deal of unknown and not move prematurely to solve problems and provide solutions.”[4] 

 

Leadership attributes

Tolerance of the unknown and welcoming of the unknown create an atmosphere of acceptance. When the leader welcomes intensity and can be comfortable with silence this will spread to the group. The leader will exhibit presence in perceiving with her body not with her head. The leader needs to let go of the need to understand, if she/he (for simplicity I will refer to the leader as she) can, then the group can. She needs to allow the group and individuals to be free to make their own choices. Tolerance of differences through acceptance and non-judgement spread to the group and become a group norm. Norm setting is especially important in the beginning in order to establish a holding, safe atmosphere. Yeomans tells of the importance of the “beginners mind” and allowing oneself to be curios with enthusiasm and vitality. The leader will help the individuals in the group to speak to each other and decentralize the power. She will encourage the group to get used to change. An important question to ask oneself is - what am I here to nourish? On an individual level she will encourage a connection with the soul. The basic assumption is that a group wants to become more expressive of whom it is so that it can realize itself. Releasing the power of leadership is not always easy as it can open to venerability, sadness and despair.

 

Meditation

Yeomans uses guided meditation to promote the individuals connection to his/her soul and the groups perception of and development of the collective soul. In one meditation he leads the members in breathing first as an individual and then to follow the breathing of the group without letting go of ones own breathing, holding both at the same time.

In another meditation he leads the group to see a light over the group and to be aware of what it looks like and what happens when the light changes.

In yet another meditation he guides one to perceive who is standing at her back, who is the support in her life. Also to visualize the answer to the question; where am I going as a leader?

 

 

Yeomans Working Guidelines

Circle. Form a circle, if possible, and work within this format. If not possible, work in the spirit of a circle – non-hierarchical, inclusive, containing.

Slow down. Slow down from your habitual pace of interaction and take all the time you need to listen to yourself and others, to express, to interact.

Breath. Breathe fully and rest in this rhythm of breathing as you participate in the group.

Silence. Tolerate, accept, and welcome silence in the group, either when called for by a group member, or when it falls spontaneously.

Truth of Experience. Speak the truth of your experience, moment to moment and over time. This includes disagreement, negative feelings, and the experience of being disconnected – these being the hardest to express.

Deep listening/presence. Listen to each other deeply and with presence. Let go of rehearsing your response, or strategizing.

Welcome/appreciate differences. Express differences and appreciate others’, even if this generates conflict. Hold the differences as a creative part of the group’s experience, not as something to be avoided.

No blame, no judgment. Suspend judgment/blame of self and others and practice simply being with your own and/or the other person’s experience.

Hold intensity. At moments of intensity, hold this experience in your awareness without reacting, or trying to do anything about it. Let it live in the group and be contained within the circle.

Welcome the unknown. Let the unknown of your, and others’ experience, simply be, rather than seeking to explain, or control events immediately.

Patience. Have patience with the workings of the group and the time it takes to grow and change, both individually and collectively.

Enjoy the process. Enter into the moment-to-moment changes in experience; both individual and group that necessarily constitute the multidimensional process of human healing, development and creative work.


Michael Robbins – System centered approach[5]

Michael Robbins in an American psychotherapist trained in Psychosynthesis. He has studied Systems Centered Therapy and uses this in working with groups.

 

Systems Centered Therapy (SCT) applies the principles of alchemy to group dynamics.  Isomorphy, the first principle, states that the macrocosm is contained within the microcosm.  Applied to the group this means that the group is a reflection of our selves. “ Each time we enter the group we are in a sense entering a hall of mirrors in which we find different reflections of our humanity.”

Thus each individual gains from the others experiences. Robbins goes on to reflect that groups usually explore opposite sides of an experience before reaching synthesis and integration to a higher level – psychosynthesis.

Hierarchy, the second principle, states, “Every system exists in the environment of the system above it and is the environment for the system below it.” Robbins compares this to Russian dolls where the larger system provides a context for the smaller systems within. If the group is functioning well, there will be a better environment for healing to occur.

The largest system is the group as a whole; the subgroups are the mediating structure. The purpose is to help members to work in subgroups in order to work with the group as a whole. The client is the group, not the individual members. The system member doesn’t exist until there is an observer, one must have an observing self – to find the part of oneself that resonates with subgroups. This will help the person to live a life that is not simply self-centered, to being centered (observing self) in whatever system they are living in.

The third principle of structure refers to the observation that, “every system is defined by its boundaries in space, time, reality and role.” This refers to the need of psychological presence in the here and now focusing on the purpose and goals that we want to accomplish. We must also realistically accept and adhere to the requirements necessary to reach our goal, which means that we need to leave outside roles and focus on the reality of the roles existing within the group. In order to create a system more attuned to the here and now and the roles developing in the group Robbins asks the participants to leave out the normal background presentation about themselves. He asks the participants to drop explanations of themselves - that is well known ideas of who we think we are - and instead to explore themselves.

Structure consists of: space – all in a room together, time, an agreed upon time, psychological reality – reality testing – a real relationship with people in the group instead of ideas, role – coming into the role that is appropriate for the group, well defined rules and regulations and goals.

Function, the last principle, defines the dynamic by which systems grow, “systems survive, develop and transform from simple to complex by the process of discriminating and integrating difference.” This means that differences are the key to growth. We grow when we recognize that something; knowledge, attitude, value or characteristic, is different from what we currently are in possession of and decide to integrate it into our being.

The way that all human systems survive, develop and transform is by recognizing and integrating differences, too much similarity stops growing. We must introduce and integrate new differences so the system will continue to grow. Subgrouping is the way the system-centered group recognizes and integrates differences.

On a group level this would indicate that the key to group development is the differences within the group. By integrating and accepting differences we further development of the group soul. In psychosynthesis we work on accepting our different subpersonalities and integrating them within the center of awareness.

Robbins uses a diagram to illustrate the influence of past and future on group dynamics.[6]

He emphasizes the need to remain within the present constructed reality and exploring through reality testing.

 

 

 

Past interpreted reality

Present constructed reality

Future predicted reality

The constructed world of Explanations

Stories, the stings and arrows of childhood, tragedies and romances, recriminating blaming self or other and guilt

Secondary experience generating secondary feelings mixed with anxiety, tension and hostility; obsessions. Mind reading, victim and bully roles, blind trust and mistrust.

Negative predictions, obsessive worries and guilt, catastrophizing.

 

 

Past experience

Present reality testing

Future unknown

The experienced world of Explorations

Primary affect and body memories

  Reality testing

Energy into here and now. Inner experiences; frustration, love, rage, grief, joy, pain, lust and curiosity

Plans, goals and surprises

 

 

 

 

Subgrouping

A systems-centered group comes into being through Subgrouping and subgroups come into being as members join on similarities. As ideas and thoughts are expressed, Robbins asks the members to refrain from asking questions and instead join a subgroup that expresses the thoughts akin to oneself. The role of the leader is to ask questions, the role of the member is to join. As more thoughts are expressed, more subgroups develop. Differences are seen as new subgroups, thus making them apparent and legitimate. Eventually the differences synthesis into new subgroups until there is finally only one group.

 

Reality check

Systems-centered therapy requires reality to be explored, not explained. Members are therefore encouraged to test out, in the group, their fears of what others will think or do. Reality check!

 

Group phases

Robbins divides group development into three phases, authority, intimacy, and work phase.

 

Authority phase

The core issue for the group to explore in the first phase is their relationship to the authority of the group leader and the structure of the group. “The clearer a teacher is about the norms and values of his or her group the easier it will be for an individual to understand the requirements of group membership and to decide whether or not they want to become a member.” [7]

 

In the authority phase the group will demonstrate both a driving force and a restraining force.

The restraining forces can be:

o       Social defences – hierarchy created by outside roles (no role presentation)

o       Cognitive defences, which are mind reads, negative predictions, reality distortion. Here Robbins encourages reality checks.

o       Somatic – tension as a defence against experience, a tension that binds feelings rather than experiencing feelings. Robbins works with opening up the body mind with Qi Gong exercises and encouraging mindful awareness of the body that gives information about the tension. He works with circulating the feelings that come up through holding eye contact thus providing containment and giving full space for the experience.

o       Discharge defences – outward in the form of blaming and complaining – it is the outside environments fault. The members are asked to keep the body relatively still to observe and make more space for feeling. Inward discharge defences are seen in depression. There may be tiredness in the group often expressed in depression. Here it is important to find what they missed. To find the primary experience, t ex of rage which is the energy of creativity.

o       Resistance to change defences. These are the most difficult to change. Many people would rather die than change knowing they need to and choosing not to.

 

The job is to move the restraining force out of the way so that the driving force, the natural intelligence will carry the group forward. The leader works with the cognitive defences first, tension second and the discharge defences third. Thus the group can explore their relationship to the leader and the structure of the group as they develop a sense of responsibility for their choices.

 

“SCT sees the core issue for every group to explore in the first phase of development as their relationship to the authority of the group leader and the structure of the group.”

The individual, in becoming a group member, must overcome fears of losing his/her autonomy. She will test the leader and explore emotions about authority. She will test the structure to see if it will hold and support her if she decides to leave her own well-known autonomy and go into the unknown of the group. This can be a difficult step for some and easy for others. It is therefore essential, in order to minimize fears and reduce the level of anxiety and acting out, to create a supportive holding environment where the structure is clearly presented and facilitated by the leader. Some members will need to question the leaders authority and the designated structure in order to take the leap into the unknown. A leader who is open and accepting of criticism will facilitate group development by allowing all feelings to be expressed thus encouraging the group to accept differences.

 

Intimacy phase

When a group has confronted and contained their resistance to change they move into the intimacy phase of development and begin working with the conflicts they have around aloneness and separation. The group may want to merge into a blissful enchantment at the cost of recognizing their differences or to distance themselves in isolation and despair at the cost of recognizing their real similarities. These tendencies are explored through the subgroups in finding differences in the enchanted group and similarities in the isolated group.

Scapegoating is the main way a group kicks out the differences and this needs to be dealt with at the group level. “Systems centered theory and practice asks us to test the hypothesis that a group member who gets scapegoated is always the messenger of some aspect of the human experience that the group or the group leader has not yet contained, explored and integrated.” [8]

 

Love, work and play phase

In the final phase of development the sense of existential humor goes up. The group has explored their conflicts around authority and intimacy and has the skills to check experience against reality and fully live in their feelings for each other, for themselves and for their leader. They can hold their differences and similarities simultaneously and are more capable of working through their defences. 

 


Guidelines

Robbins introduces guidelines as part of the structure supporting group development.

 

Explore don’t explain your experience

Subgroup - Look for resonance with other group members and join with your own experience. Once you have committed to a sub-group stay with it until you are done.

Slow down, center, and become mindful of your feeling, sensations and thoughts.

Sit comfortably with your feet on the ground and your spine aligned, breath!

If you are anxious, notice if your thoughts are generating fear. Dare to reality check; undo mind reads, negative predictions and constructed realities.

Listen deeply to your body. Notice how feelings turn into tension when we don’t allow them into awareness.

Make space, contain and fill up with your energy and feeling. Notice the impulse to discharge irritation, frustration, or intense feelings of any sort out in tantrums, outrages, blaming or the giggles or in by becoming depressed or collapsed.

Welcome the edge of the unknown. It is natural to feel anxious with the unfamiliar - curiosity helps!

Avoid advise giving or interpretation

Don’t take things just personally. No one can take responsibility for how a group will react to what one says, however we all must take responsibility for what we withhold from the group.

Distractions – crossing the boundary into the group. If you notice yourself going out of the group in time, space, reality, or role, bring your distraction in, facts first (simply), and then the feeling.

 

Scott Peck - Community[9]

Scott Peck is an American Psychiatrist who has worked extensively with groups in creating a sense of community in which he believes lays the salvation of the world. He recognized that the “sensitivity” movement of the 60’s and 70’s was moving toward community but the result was often haphazard as the rules had not been defined nor the goals clear. Confrontation was commoner than love and the idea of community was not understood. He began working with groups to better understand the dynamics of community.

Stages of community making

The stages of community making are pseudo-community, chaos, emptiness and community.

In pseudo-community the members are extremely pleasant with one another and avoid all disagreement. The dynamic is conflict avoidance and the basic pretence is the denial of individual differences. People will often speak in generalizations instead of specifically stating their personal problem and allowing themselves to be vulnerable. Often the group will suppress conflict and projections so that material for the next stage of chaos is created.

In the second stage of chaos individual differences are out in the open and instead of accepting them the group will try to dissolve them by healing or converting all who differ from a norm. Conflict develops as the members fight over whose norm will prevail. The group will need to be in chaos for a while to raise the energy level and expose the differences. The leader may need to eventually intervene to bring the group further by explaining the concept of emptiness.

A group enters emptiness by removing all barriers to communication. The leader will have seen many barriers during the chaos stage and can help the group by pointing out specific feelings, assumptions, ideas and motives. The most common barriers to communication are:

  • Expectations and preconceptions
  • Prejudices, ideology, theology and solutions
  • The need to heal, convert, fix or solve
  • The need to control

The leader will ask the group to become silent and reflect on what they need to release. The stage of emptiness holds vulnerability, pain and suffering and involves individual and group death and dying. The group, to rid themselves of barriers, will need to release expectations and preconceptions, prejudices, ideology and solutions and accept that you don’t have to do anything, not heal, convert, fix or solve. The will also need to release the need for control.

Entrance into community is a gentle process of peaceful acceptance where the members will speak deeply and personally about themselves and with one another. The silence is shared on a community level – poignantly tangible. There is spontaneous healing and conversion. It is like falling in love and the members will hug and touch one another. It is wise here to mention the risk of acting out the heightened sexual energy that is created. The love should be held on a brotherly, sisterly level. The energy level can at times be highly charged and ecstatic.

 

The role of the leader

Peck begins the group process with instructions to refrain from generalizations, speak personally, to be vulnerable, to avoid attempting to heal or convert, to empty itself, to listen wholeheartedly, and to embrace the painful as well as the pleasant.

He also tells the story of the Rabbi’s Gift[10] to describe the atmosphere of respect, both for oneself and others, and acceptance of differences which enhances the development of community. He encourages the group to tell stories in creating group norms and a group culture. “Groups create myths about themselves or myths in general which describe their own situation or the social or political situation of their time. This is an act of creativity in community.”

After this the leader will become much more complacent, occasionally reminding the group of the guidelines when they become bogged down. He has a general rule that the designated leader should make only those interventions that the other members are not yet capable of making.

Peck seldom uses exercises when working with groups.  Of the few exercises Peck uses silence is one of the most important. “Silence is the ultimate facilitator of emptiness.”

The healing power of groups

Peck speaks of the healing power of groups. A safe place is created where the members can dare to be vulnerable, to reveal their fears and their deepest emotions. The healing comes, not from a conscious act of healing, but from the atmosphere of safety that allows each person to truly be his- or herself, thus creating spontaneous healing. “Paradoxically, then, a group of human beings becomes healing and converting only after its members stop trying to heal and convert. Community is a safe place precisely because no one is trying to heal or convert you, to fix you, to change you.” [11]

 

 

FIRO – Fundamental interpersonal relationship orientation[12]

Will Schutz was an American psychologist who did a study for the US Navy in the Korean War about why some warship crews were more effective than others. He saw a relationship between how the members related to one another and their effectiveness as a group. He went on to propose a theory with three main phases describing a group in their development towards union and effectiveness.

 

Inclusion

The first phase, inclusion, is about becoming a member of the group, am I accepted, do I accept the others. The group focus is in or out, am I taking an active part or am I outside looking in. The members are dependent upon one another and dare not stick out or take risks. During this phase the group will consciously avoid important conflicts, especially those about leadership. Relationships between the members are temporary. Each individual wants to be recognized and accepted in the roll they are presenting. The main fear is that of being ignored.

We all have different motivation and energy in the phases of group development. Some people are active in the first phase while others are passive and withdrawn. The important issue for the leader is to openly accept each member in their specific roll thus encouraging the group to accept the differences. As the members feel they are accepted they can accept themselves and begin to show more of their feelings and thoughts.

An authoritative leader is needed in this first phase in order to establish a structure with clear guidelines, purpose and goals so that the group can feel safe. The leader will guide the group in how to give and receive feedback so that they may better understand how to relate within the group.

 

Control

The second phase is about how much influence each member has in the group. Who do I want to influence and whom will I let influence me? The group feeling is independence, which allows the members to become more openly aggressive towards one another. Each person wants to have their roll recognized and to have their own competency accepted as a necessary component of the group structure. The main fear in this phase is that of being humiliated and of not being good enough.

In a group where open expression of feelings and thoughts is accepted the group will have fewer conflicts and be more readily able to resolve the conflicts they have.

The leadership role changes from authoritative to supportive and guiding. The group members are in a sensitive stage of developing their own leadership. If the leader is too strong the members will abdicate their own leadership to the group leader. The group might need help in conflict management, though only if they fasten and cannot continue on their own or if they are projecting too strongly on one member with the risk for scapegoating. It is important for the leader to be present, aware and patient, not jumping in too soon.

 

Openness

Openness is about creating stronger relationships with one another where the group tests how open they can be and become. The group feeling is one of mutual dependence, which leads to collaboration and consensus agreements where conflicts are seen as a possibility for growth. Each member wants to know that they are appreciated and well liked and that they appreciate and like the others. The main fear here is of being ostracized from the group.

The group leadership is well developed in this stage with each member taking responsibility for his or her own leadership. The group leader can freely delegate in this stage, more serving the greater purpose of the group than guiding.

 

Intermediate phases – cosiness and ideal

The cosiness phase comes after inclusion when all of the members are accepted in the group. The members demonstrate more openly their involvement in the group and there is a good feeling of being together. There is an increased sociableness with more energy and good humour.

The ideal phase comes after control when the group has accepted its own leadership where each roll has been accepted and recognized as a necessary component. It usually comes after solving a major conflict or crises that is holding the group back. This phase has a strong feeling of freedom and the members work to maintain the ecstasy while avoiding solving any problems or doing any work. There is more energy than in the cosiness phase and the members are physically very close. 

Schutz points out that the group will retreat to an earlier stage if they do not manage to solve the problems in each stage. The group will go back to the first phase when a new member comes in or an old member leaves. When the group is given a new task it will start with inclusion again though a mature group will quickly develop by being open with their feelings and thoughts and using the guidelines effectively.

 

A holding atmosphere

A facilitator who leads the leadership courses, UGL, will create a holding atmosphere where experiential learning is followed up by feedback, theory, reflection, and the possibility to test new boundaries. As the days go by (this is a 5 day course) the leaders will leave over more and more of the responsibility for leading the process discussions to the members of the group. The group members learn through experience how to give feedback and interrelate to create a viable group process.


 

Psychosynthesis and groups

A group is a living organism that can be compared to an individual in the psychosynthesis egg. Where an individual has subpersonalities that need to be recognized and accepted, the group has individuals that represent subpersonalities that need to be affirmed and accepted into the inner circle. The group soul develops when enough subpersonalities interrelate from the center of awareness and express the group will.

 

“Indeed, an isolated individual is a nonexistent abstraction. In reality each individual is interwoven into an intricate network of vital, psychological and spiritual relations, involving mutual exchange and interactions with many other individual. Each is included in, and forms a constituent part of, various human groups and groups of groups, in the same way in which a cell is a tiny part of an organ within a living organism. Therefore individual psychosynthesis is only a step towards inter-individual psychosynthesis.” [13]

 

The work of the group is to expand the center of awareness by accepting the subpersonalities presented by the group members. In expanding the center of awareness the group soul enlarges and enfolds the members in its therapeutic healing embrace. The group “I” comes more and more in contact with the group Self and the universal Self with unlimited recourses.

 

Subpersonalities

Each member of the group represents a subpersonality, which in order to enter the field of awareness needs to be accepted as it is, with it’s faults and its potential. As it is accepted the potential for change and evolvement is released. It is only through acceptance that we can create change. Just as the individual’s polarities reach a higher synthesis the different subpersonalities reach a synthesis in the center of awareness creating a super personality.

Five phases of harmonization of subpersonalities

1.      Recognition – Identifying a subpersonality or individual in the group. The leader can begin by mirroring the subpersonalities as they come up to illustrate acceptance.

2.      Acceptance – it is okay to include this subpersonality, individual, just as it is. This acceptance then facilitates change. Differences are seen as a creative resource.

3.      Coordination – a deeper understanding for the subpersonality and its function in the group. “Before the group can become well integrated, and function as a unit, interpersonal problems are likely to emerge, which need to be solved. And to be solved, they require some inner changes by the people in the group. “ [14] The subpersonalities will change and develop as they are accepted, including more subpersonalities from each individual.

4.      Integration – subpersonalities interact with one another in increasingly harmonious relationships. The group soul has begun it’s work.

5.      Synthesis – concerns the group as a whole. The subpersonalities become part of the whole, which is transpersonal as well as interpersonal. “….it has to do with the interaction of the individual with others and with the world, and is mediated by the Transpersonal Self.” [15]

 

The field of awareness

The group’s field of awareness encompasses all of the resources of the group as they are presented and accepted by the group. This can be likened to inclusion – the process of including the members into the inner circle.

As the subpersonalities are included they begin to transform and reveal more subpersonalities, all the time increasing the field of awareness. When the subpersonalities feel accepted and safe they can work with taking back projections and recognizing transference.

 

Qualities from the Higher Unconscious - HUC

When the subpersonalities are drawn into the field of awareness they reveal qualities from the higher unconscious. The energy in the field of awareness increases with each quality enabling the subpersonalities to transform and reveal more subpersonalities and more qualities. The energy becomes so strong that it cannot be contained within the egg and penetrates out into the environment and the universe, thus becoming an external unifying center for other groups and spreading the qualities from the HUC such as love, openness, conflict management and so on.

 

Qualities from the Lower Unconscious - LUC  

Individuals are encouraged to delve into their lower unconscious to discover hidden aspects that when revealed can release energy and access to their corresponding qualities in the higher unconscious. Accepting the darkness, hidden motives and fears of the group is an essential part of working with groups. The darkness, when suppressed, may come out in one individual and then it is important that the group does not exclude the darkness, but take back their projections and own their own darkness. Scott Peck says that in working with over a hundred workshops involving 5000 people of groups he has only met two “evil” persons who were unwilling to subordinate themselves to the needs of the group and were motivated to actively destroy community. He found the best way to deal with them was to let the group manage them and eventually exclude them with the right to come back if they wanted.

 

The “I”

The group “I”, or conscious self, is at the center of the field of awareness and expresses a will to include. The group leader in the beginning will encourage this by being present and voicing acceptance of whatever comes up. As the “I” develops it becomes a driving force within the members of the group to include everyone and to be the present observer in group processes. As the leader decentralizes her power the soul gains maximal access to the  group“I”.

 

The Self

The Self holds the group’s purpose, it is the guiding star, and is connected to the universal self. As the field of awareness expands, including more subpersonalities, the “I” develops a stronger will and comes more and more in contact with the group Self. As this happens, the group soul develops. The group soul is both the “I” and the Self expressing through the will and the transpersonal will. The more the group is in contact with the Self, the more it will be open to the universal Self and the possibility to serve the universe.

 

 

External unifying center - EUC

The leader of the group can function as an external unifying center by mirroring, setting boundaries and including all that is being revealed – the subpersonalities of the group members, feelings, thoughts, opinions, attitudes, conflicts and so on. The leader will need to set boundaries by stating guidelines and helping the group to be aware of them in the beginning. It is important to openly accept each subpersonality as it comes up and to recognize by affirmation or summation.  As the group soul develops, the leader can more and more release the role of the “I”, as the group “I” develops and becomes apparent within the group itself. The leader is a role model in acceptance opening the way for the group to be more and more accepting. As the group “I” develops it will take over the function of the EUC and the leader can become more and more passive. The leader is the agent of the soul of the group until the group soul has developed.

 

The will

In the beginning there are individual wills bouncing back and forth, meeting and retreating. As the “I” develops, it needs a mean to express itself and this is through the will. The strong will needs to develop and this is often done through the engagement in conflict. It is important that guidelines have been formulated to help in developing the good will and the clever will. With these guidelines the leaders can aid the group in developing the will. When a group is in conflict it will need to be there long enough to develop the strong group will. The leader may need to facilitate the group so that the strong will can be used in a clever, loving way. The more the “I” can be aware of the different subpersonalities and express and except the differences the more the group comes in contact with the group Self, and the influence of the transpersonal will. The group energy is expressed through the group will. The group will chooses from the individuals the best person to express what the “I” is aware of.
The goal is to allow the group Self to express itself through the transpersonal will so that the group may serve mankind.

The group will is not always connected to the group Self, just as we are not always connected to our Self. Therefore it is important to ground the process in a set of values that have a basis in the good will. This set of values should be incorporated in the guidelines, which are presented in the beginning of working with group processes.

 

The energy of relating

When the process of inclusion is completed so that all of the subpersonalities are accepted as they are, (some subpersonalities can be accepted as verbally silent, but still showing involvement) the will to relate will increase as the group moves toward integration. As the subpersonalities relate more and more with one another conflicts will develop and the group will quite often become chaotic. The differences in values, attitudes, appearances, actions, feelings and so on will create an energy that most often results in conflict. Conflict is not a necessary ingredient of relating, and in groups where openness and feedback allow for taking back and owning feelings and projections conflicts will be resolved with much less effort and there will be very little conflict and the conflicts will be resolved quickly. 

 

Group needs

As a leader it is important to understand what each group needs related to their stage of group development. A group goes back to the first stage of group development whenever someone either leaves the group or someone new comes into the group. A group will also retreat to the first stage whenever it is given a new task.

 

Group needs related to Maslow

Maslow tells us in his hierarchy of human needs that the basic needs must be fulfilled before one can fill the higher transpersonal needs. Richard Barrett has compared these to the individuals needs in groups and organisations.[16]

 

Physical

If we look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we see that the most basic need is survival. People need to feel secure. Their greatest fears can be expressed as a lack of trust. Control is important.

Here the group needs structure – guidelines, purpose and goals. They need to feel that there are safe boundaries and that they will know how and what to do.

Emotional

The second basic need is for relationships. People want to find similarities and differences that can lead to friendships. The fears here are about standing out and losing their place in the group. The focus is more on what each person can get from others rather than what they can contribute and give to others.

The members of the group need to get to know one another, to see similarities and differences so that they can feel at home somewhere. Or as Michael Robbins says, “Finding resonance with each other.”

Respect

As a group proceeds in its development the needs are more focused on being respected.

The third basic need is the need for respect. Each person wants to have a good feeling about oneself and feel respected by others in the group. They can become ambitious and competitive. Their fears here are about not being appreciated or respected.

Acceptance of differences and of each subpersonality creates an atmosphere of respect. It is important to allow and encourage confrontations, to take home projections and to discuss values. It is important to have a value system apparent in the guidelines.

Mental – transformation phase

The transformation phase often comes after a crisis in the group, such as a major conflict, and can also come after enough members of the group have shown openness and vulnerability.

As the group soul develops the focus becomes centered on the group as a whole. The individuals in the group develop more awareness of themselves and others. Each person takes more personal responsibility for oneself as he/she becomes more aware of ones own feelings and projections and can make conscious choices. The members become more aware of how important values and beliefs are in their work in the group. The group soul is becoming more apparent.

Altruistic

The individuals become more and more conscious of the group. The focus here is to find meaning within the group work and this gives meaning in their lives. They seek to be more effective in their work and see that the best way to meet their own needs is by serving the group as a whole. The individuals in the group care about each other’s development and will support one another.

The group expands their consciousness and seeks to do something important in a larger context in the society and in the world. They feel responsibility for the group and for society. They are concerned about the environment and social factors. They see their group and their own work as a possibility to fill their visions and goals in life and are not very interested in personal rewards.

Focus on this level is above all to serve. The group has a global view and keeps up on international affairs. Everything the group does has a meaning, a purpose and it does that which is ethically and morally right. The group has large visions that are not always easy for others to understand because they are in the forefront. The members of the group will use meditation and silence to advance the spirit of the group. The individuals include deep silence in their inner lives and are tenaciously engaged, feeling often joy and contentment.

 

The leader

One ground rule as a leader is that less is better than more. The focus is primarily on the group, not the individual. Individual processes will benefit the group, but it is not necessary for each individual in the group to have a deep process. A group can accept a silent member as long as the person has shown or said that she is engaged and active in her silence.

 

“Since a group is more than the sum of its parts – it is a living organism in its own right – leaders should keep their focus on the group as a whole. They usually need not concern themselves with the problems or personalities of individual members. In fact, such concern is likely to interfere with community development. The general rule, therefore, is that leaders should restrict their interventions to interpretations of group rather than individual behaviour. And the purpose of all such interventions is not to tell the group what to do or not to do but to awaken it to awareness of its behaviour.” [17]

 

In the beginning the group “I” is not developed and an external unifying center in the form of leaders is beneficial in helping the group to develop it’s personality and it’s will. Here it is important for the leaders to be a loving witness and show the way by mirroring the subpersonalities as they come up until the group is able to take over this responsibility of acceptance. It is important that the group-will grows and this is done first on an individual level with each member deciding they want to be a part of the group and aid in it’s development. In order to do this they need to know how to act and interact. Here the leaders, or facilitators can help the group by stating guidelines and helping the group to become more conscious of how to use them.  As each subpersonality is recognized and accepted into the field of consciousness, the group “I” becomes more integrated. The group soul becomes stronger and stronger and the “I” comes more and more in contact with the group Self and the transpersonal will.

It is best if the group or the individuals themselves discover how to use the guidelines and remind one another. Intervention should be used sparingly and with great patience and a sense of the groups potential always guiding with a gentle hand to create a safe place for the group to grow. 

As a leader, you know what the group needs to do to deepen a process or solve a process, but it is not so much important to solve a process as to engage in it. The therapist wants the client to be enlightened, but group enlightenment comes from the group fully taking responsibility for its own processes and each member developing their own leadership. If the leaders give too much leadership the group will gladly fall back on them and abdicate their own responsibility and leadership because developing their own is a painful difficult process.

“When a leader solves the problem for a group it disempowers them and they will later try to take it back by attacking the leader.” [18]  Robbins, Peck and Yeomans describe the importance of letting the group solve its own problems. Assistance may be given in revealing behaviour in terms of what the group is doing or suggesting silence and reflection in order to see one’s own and the group’s responsibility.

As the group develops the leader releases more and more control to the group so that each member can find his or her own inner leader. Once the group has come to community the leader can “sit back and relax and be one among many for another of the characteristics of community is the total decentralization of authority. A community is not a leaderless group, but a group of all leaders.” [19]

 

A holding atmosphere

The individual, in becoming a group member, must overcome fears of losing his/her autonomy. She will test the leader and explore emotions about authority. She will test the structure to see if it will hold and support her if she decides to leave her own well-known autonomy and go into the unknown of the group. This can be a difficult step for some and easy for others. It is therefore essential, in order to minimize fears and reduce the level of anxiety and acting out, to create a supportive holding environment where the structure is clearly presented and facilitated by the leader. Some members will need to question the leaders authority and the designated structure in order to take the leap into the unknown. A leader who is open and accepting of criticism will facilitate group development by allowing all feelings to be expressed thus encouraging the group to accept differences.

Yeomans creates a loving holding through the guidelines and guided meditation. Scott Peck tells the story of the Rabbi and facilitates the group with guidelines. Robbins creates a holding atmosphere with Qi Gong, guidelines and structuring differences into subgroups. FIRO uses guidelines and structure with the intention to create a safe environment and a gradual teaching process to allow the group to take more responsibility for their own development. 

 

Conflict

Conflicts are a sign of interaction within the group and can be seen as a positive force in developing the group. A group that allows conflicts to develop has progressed to a higher level where they feel comfortable enough with one another to dare to disagree.

Conflicts within the group may be resolved with or without aid from the leader. Some conflicts will arise which do not need resolving so much as acceptance of the differences existing within the group. Michael Robbins would say the group has subgroups.  Other conflicts will benefit with help from the leader in facilitating a dialog between two individuals or two sides in the group. Some conflicts might need to be worked on at a deeper level to “transform the substructures on which the conflict was based.” [20]

 

Chaos

Scott Peck describes the conflict stage as chaos. Conflict will often occur in the process of developing the group, but it is not a necessary component. A group that has chosen “openness” will resolve their conflicts before going into chaos. When a group does go into conflict it is important for the leader to allow the chaos to exist for a while but then to intervene. Peck will ask the group members to empty themselves of preexisting values and prejudices, becoming silent for a while. If the chaos is allowed to continue too long it will introduce so much fear that the group will regress to an earlier stage and be hesitant in entering conflicts and thus hindering further development.

 

Awareness

We use meditation to increase our field of awareness. We train our observer to become more and more aware by being present in the moment and observing our thoughts, our bodies and our feelings and desires. In the same way the group needs to bring their feelings, thoughts and sensations in the here and now out into the groups field of consciousness. That which is hidden from the group will decrease the field of awareness. The more that is brought into the group’s consciousness, the more the group will become aware and relationships will expand.

The purpose of interventions by the leader should be to awaken awareness in the group of its behaviour. References to behaviour will be made to the group as a whole rather than each individual. For example in a group where sensitive issues are avoided, such as crying or vulnerability, the leader will suggest that the group is avoiding the sadness in the group.

 

To lose the need for control

One of the most difficult tasks for the leader of a group is to avoid or release the need to control the group. It is so much easier for the leader to see what is going on in the group, but much more healthy for the group to realize what it is doing. Patience and waiting are important for the leader to practice so that the group may become more aware. Helping too much will encourage the group to become dependent on the leader and avoid taking responsibility for group development. A group that is dependent on the leader will not develop into the “group of leaders” that is necessary for community. Each member must be a leader in opening and becoming more vulnerable and empty of preconceived ideas and prejudices.

 

Group energy

The group is a living organism. Strange statement, but when you think of it as a being composed of relationships and interactions of its parts you can see that we as individuals are a microcosm of a group which is a microcosm of the earth and so on. Yeomans describes the consciousness of a group as the “collective soul, which is seeking to reorganize the system so that more life can be expressed through it.” As the soul develops, creating safety and a flow, blockages between individuals or subgroups and intrapersonal blocks come to light and are worked through. The soul is a guiding element and in order for it to function, the leader needs to tone down his/her role so as not to disturb the role of the collective soul.

Group energy, or the group soul is the increasing consciousness of the group members, comprised of all interrelationships and personal manifestations. Everything that is consciously present increases the energy. Relationships that contain energy but are not open to the group create fears and fantasies, which decrease the energy. False or hidden motives decrease the energy. Everything that is consciously or unconsciously hidden decreases the energy because on some level it is conscious and when not openly presented it creates fantasies and fears. Everything that is open increases the energy.

Each member of the group influences all the others; they are interwoven into the group process and part of the group soul. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in his book, Comment je crois describes this in relation to the universe. “All creatures are wireless fibers interwoven into a universal process.”  As each member presents more of their thoughts and feelings, their personality becomes more apparent and the group personality grows and becomes more manifest. De Chardin writes of a ”super-consciousness” and a “super-personality” [21]

Others describe this power as the group energy or group intelligence. There are many different terms to express this power that emanates from a group and has both a healing and a destructive capacity.

 

The whole entity expresses itself in the parts

The energy in the group has an almost mystical quality to it where it seems to operate independent of the group members. The whole entity expresses itself in the parts. It may be that people are feeling sorrowful in a group, but only one member expresses the sorrow and it comes out much stronger than the individual feels. The person most attune to expressing sorrow will sense the energy of sorrow in the group and express more than her own sorrow. There may be a lot of anger in a group and one member will express the group anger, this person being one who can most easily or readily sense and express the anger. This phenomenon has a tendency to result in projections where the group members will project their own sorrow and anger on the expressing member of the group. This can, in extreme cases, lead to eliminating the member, scapegoating, from the group to relieve the group of feelings it does not want to own.

More often this energy will express itself in more subtle ways, always choosing the person most likely to express the suppressed feelings. It may be that someone will express depression for the whole group or be angry or cry excessively. It is important for the leader to recognize when this is happening and redirect the feelings back to the group so that the members may re-own their projections.

Peck gives a personal account where he became the voice of the group’s depression and was excluded by the group who refused to see their own down side.

“This experience of being scapegoated as a minor prophet was so condensed, so clear and personal, as to be of great benefit to me. For every since that time when I have been out of step in some way, I have never been totally certain I was wrong. And whenever I have been a member of a vigorous majority, I have never been able to be complacently certain I was right.” [22]

The energy generated by a group is a powerful force that chooses to express itself through the medium of group members. The underlying feelings that are not being expressed will accumulate in one member and come out in a force which that member will not recognize or even own. I had a personal experience with this force during a five-day course in group development where an atmosphere of fear and insecurity was created.[23] The leaders were very provocative and analytic, but not supportive. On the fifth day I was very critical of happenings in the group. This turned the whole group against me and I literally was lifted out of the room by the energy of the group. I was scapegoated out of the room. When I came back into the room the leaders did not support me in any way. I could not stop crying after this and I believe I was expressing the whole group’s sadness.

Michael Robbins gives a very good explanation of the energy that rebounds in a group.

“The underlying dynamics that are stimulated in the intimacy phase of a groups’ development are rooted in our earliest learnings of what it is like to be in relationship. The systems Centered perspective is that these dynamics are larger than any individual group member. From this point of view, it is vital that we do not scapegoat or demonize a teacher or student who acts out under the influence of these dynamics. Restraining the impulse to go on a ‘witch hunt’ when the facts of a teachers’ or students’ abuses of power come to light can be a monumental task as the forces which are unleashed at this moment are often quite virulent and laced with feelings that originate in the early childhood experiences of group members. If the acting out can be contained, the community as a whole has a tremendous opportunity to deepen their understanding of the dynamics that have been at work behind the scenes. This is not to condone the actions of teachers or students that have acted out. Depending on the situation, sanctions and reparations may be necessary to reestablish a sense of safety in the community. However, once a sense of safety has been restored and clear norms of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour established, the community must explore the feelings that have been acted out or they may simply be recycled and return to haunt the community in another form.  From the Systems Centered perspective, these feeling belong to the group-as-a-whole, not to any individual member. If the group can ‘unstuff’ the scapegoat, each member has the opportunity to take back the disowned parts of themselves that they have projected into the person who has acted out. It is one of the most extraordinary and important lessons of the systems centered approach to group process that when group members take back the feelings that they have projected into the scapegoat in an authentic way, the group member who has acted out has much less pressure to continue acting out. Systems Centered theory and practice asks us to test the hypothesis that a group member who gets scapegoated is always the messenger of some aspect of the human experience that the group or the group leader has not yet contained, explored and integrated.” – Agazarian [24]

 

In the perspective of the egg one can see this powerful energy coming from the lower unconscious. The group will be facilitating this energy by not being completely open yet presenting half-truths, thus snowballing the effect. The truth shall set you free, but when it is hidden it binds us by acting out through one member of the group.

 

 

There is so much energy floating around that influences each person in the group. There is the group fear, the group anger and the group sorrow, which usually comes out in one person. This person then expresses more anger, sorrow, or fear than they feel because they are expressing several people’s feelings. This then causes a reaction in the group where the members gladly let the person express their own feelings, not owning them, projecting them onto the group outlet. 

 


Suggestions for development of group process

I would like in conclusion to suggest some changes in the symposiums on group process.

 

A set of guidelines should be developed. It would be beneficial to discuss this in a group to reach the appropriate set of guidelines, however I have chosen some from Yeomans and Robbins guidelines.

 

Guidelines

Circle. Form a circle, if possible, and work within this format. If not possible, work in the spirit of a circle – non-hierarchical, inclusive, containing.

Slow down, center, and become mindful of your feeling, sensations and thoughts.

If you are anxious, notice if your thoughts are generating fear. Dare to reality check; undo mind reads, negative predictions and constructed realities.

Listen deeply to your body. Notice how feelings turn into tension when we don’t allow them into awareness.

Avoid advise giving or interpretation

Don’t take things just personally. No one can take responsibility for how a group will react to what one says, however we all must take responsibility for what we withhold from the group.

Breath. Breathe fully and rest in this rhythm of breathing as you participate in the group.

Silence. Tolerate, accept, and welcome silence in the group, either when called for by a group member, or when it falls spontaneously.

Truth of Experience. Speak the truth of your experience, moment to moment and over time. This includes disagreement, negative feelings, and the experience of being disconnected – these being the hardest to express.

Deep listening/presence. Listen to each other deeply and with presence. Let go of rehearsing your response, or strategizing.

Welcome/appreciate differences. Express differences and appreciate others’, even if this generates conflict. Hold the differences as a creative part of the group’s experience, not as something to be avoided.

No blame, no judgment. Suspend judgment/blame of self and others and practice simply being with your own and/or the other person’s experience.

Hold intensity. At moments of intensity, hold this experience in your awareness without reacting, or trying to do anything about it. Let it live in the group and be contained within the circle.

Welcome the unknown. Let the unknown of your, and others’ experience, simply be, rather than seeking to explain, or control events immediately.

Patience. Have patience with the workings of the group and the time it takes to grow and change, both individually and collectively.

Be curious – ask questions

 

A psychosynthesis theory of group development

I think it is possible to use psychosynthesis to explain the phases in group development. I draw upon my knowledge of FIRO which I know and understand best and which I consider to be simple and clear and relate psychosynthesis to this theory. One can also incorporate Yeomans Corona process and Robbins Systems Centered Therapy into the theory.

 

The first phase

In the first phase of a group the need is to create a safe environment and to feel accepted and to accept others. The leaders focus will be on teaching the guidelines through practical experience. They will be active in this process as well as acting as an external unifying center and showing acceptance of the subpersonalities as they come up and of the group’s reactions and interactions. If the leaders show acceptance the group members will learn acceptance. I find it is good for the leaders to be very open with their plans and observations. This is part of the learning process. The leaders are an external unifying center for the subpersonalities so that they may be included in the group I. The focus in the first phase is on the individual in relation to the group and in including the subpersonalities.

It will be important to teach feedback techniques and to guide the group in using them, giving space for practical experience.

Robbins uses subgroups as a method of acceptance. As each new thought, feeling, fear or attitude comes up the members are asked to not question but to search within to see if they also can recognize this within them. Then they will simply join the subgroup. This is a way of owning your projections instead of laying them out on individuals in the group. A group can learn this as the leaders ask them to listen and search within them selves as new phenomena come up and to join in the members experience with one’s own experience. Often a leader will ask the individual if they would like feedback from the group and the feedback can include joining in the phenomena. If a member expresses sadness, one can say, “I also feel sadness” and so on.

Meditation can be used to infuse a sense of being an individual and part of the group. The idea of the group soul will be introduced in the beginning and meditations used to encourage this. The concept of the group soul will include the psychosynthesis concept of Self and at some point towards the end of this phase it will be important to compare the group egg with an individual egg and to introduce the concepts of psychosynthesis in groups.

It will be important to point out that a group will retreat to the first phase of development whenever member leaves the group or a new member comes, or if an extended period of time has lapsed or the group is given a new task. The questions of in or out will come up again. Do I want to be a member of this group, do the others accept me. Is my subpersonality included in the center of awareness?

I find that in most groups there is always someone who says they don’t know the purpose of group processes, what is the goal they ask. Yeomans tells of the groups he has led that became much more efficient in their work. Peck tells his stories, the Rabbi’s gift. It will be important to explain why a group should work with group development. I believe the purpose is to allow a group to come in contact with its purpose and to find the meaning and theme for its existence on earth. Can it be that each psychosynthesis group at the academy will serve the universe in a larger capacity?

                                                                                                              

The second phase

In the second phase of development the members will be more independent of one another and be more daring in their interaction. Material will come up from the lower unconscious as the members become more open. Conflicts will come up as the interaction becomes more intense. When conflicts become too chaotic Scott Peck will eventually go in and ask the group to cultivate silence a while in order to empty themselves of whatever is hindering them. A group should not leave for the day in severe conflict as it creates so much fear that they may close down the next day.

The goal in this phase here is that each member will develop their own leadership and take more responsibility for themselves and for the group.

The leaders will still be there for the group, but will tone down their role, always referring to the group as a whole and pointing out behavior without giving solutions. The focus in this phase will be on the group as a whole. It may be necessary to guide in conflict management as a teaching process. Yeomans teaches dialogue and reconciliation techniques by mediating in conflicts. It will probably still be necessary to point out processes so that the group will learn to see process and promote them instead of avoiding strong feelings. The guideline of  “holding intensity” is helpful to guide the group in becoming more aware of processes.

Hopefully a chance will come to mention group projections when group feelings come out in one member. This is an important point to learn so that the members can learn how they are projecting and to take back their projections. The leaders will explain that they are toning down their role so that the group members can be more active. Scott Peck is very passive at this stage and will go in to refocus the energy into the group if they are concentrating on the leaders, and to mention group projections when they are scapegoating or when one member is standing out from the others.

The members will be encouraged to become more open and vulnerable, as they feel more confident and safe. The group soul will become more apparent as more and more subpersonalities are included in the group I. As the group I develops its own unifying center the leader can release this role and become more a supportive guide. The leader will need to be attuned to the group soul and let it guide the group.

As the group progresses the leaders turn their leadership over to the group as completely as possible. The group will be instructed to carry on with interrelating following the guidelines and giving feedback. Peck goes in with interventions of the type that give the group responsibility for their process. In the book, The Different Drum, Peck mentions several interventions he has used to help the group to community. I find his book invaluable as a support for leadership. He gives his personal experience of being in groups and of leading groups. Robbins stays physically in the group intervening as little as possible as the subgroups synthesis. Yeomans stays in the group and follows the development of the group soul, only supporting when and if it is not evident.

Each day should be rounded off so the group has a good feeling about itself. If they are meeting the next day then it is okay to leave insecurity so that the process will grow. If they will not be meeting for a few weeks then I would suggest some form of rounding off so that the group will have an understanding of where they are as a group.

 

The third phase

The focus in this phase will be the group’s relation to the outside world. Everyone in the group feels they have a purpose as an individual in the group. Each person’s leadership role has been accepted. The group soul will be apparent as a guiding element. The group “I” will be an active observer with a strong and a good will. The group will be more and more in contact with the group Self as the transpersonal will guides them in their process. Healing of intra- and interrelationships will spontaneously occur as members reveal more of themselves and are willing to be vulnerable. The group I will expand as it includes more material from the lower unconscious and qualities from the higher unconsciousness. The leaders roll in this phase will be to help the group focus on the Self and the transpersonal will. What is their purpose, how may they serve so that the universal will may guide them in serving a larger purpose?

 

Conclusion

I believe the academy has an important role to fill in furthering international relations and caring for the ecology by fostering a group purpose in each group. This should be an important focus of the academy as it relates to the world, that of the supreme synthesis of bringing heaven to earth and taking responsibility for ecopsychosynthesis and inter-individual psychosynthesis. I conclude with a poem that I have written.

 Mother Ghia

Your energy is like a fire that explodes within me.
A thousand tiny sparks filling me, igniting me.
Longing to be released to unite with God’s energy,
the energy of the heavens, of the universe.
Striving to unite to create the peaceful power of love.

I open myself to heavens energies.
They flow through my body with a gentle clarity.
T
he lover God meeting the beloved Ghia.
As the energy flows down into the womb of Ghia,
I am drawn as a magnet into her inner heat.

Mother Ghia’s womb is filled with a passionate fire,
the fire of volcanoes, the power of earthquakes.
F
ather God brings His supreme love to unite with the fire.
Out of the fire and love comes an all-encompassing peace.
The peace takes hold of my body as I gently sink into the earth.

They peace of their love surpasses understanding.
When these two energies meet they create a synthesis.
The supreme synthesis of relations - love.
Their union creates a healing energy with one soul purpose -
to heal relationships.

Between man and the earth,
between man and man,
between man and nature,
between man and animals,
between man and Self,
between man and the universe.

 

Bibliography

 Roberto Assagioli, The Act of Will, 1999, David Platts Publ. Co, England

 Roberto Assagioli, Psychosynthesis: Individual and Social, some suggested lines of research. An article.

 Richard Barrett, Liberating the Corporate Soul, Building a Visionary Organization, 1998, Butterworth and Heinemann

 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Så Tror Jag, 1969, Swedish 2002, Förlagshuset Hagaberg, Malmö

 Scott Peck, The Different Drum, 1987, Cox and Wyman, England

 Michael Robbins, The Alchemy of Group Work, Resource book, michaelrobbins@rcn.com

 UGL Handledar material, 2000

 James Vargiu, Subpersonalities, Psychosynthesis Academy

 Tom Yeomans, Soul on Earth, Readings in Spiritual Psychology, Psychosynthesis Academy


 

Appendix 1

 

The rabbi’s gift

The story concerns a monastery that had fallen upon hard times. Once a great order, as a result of waves of antimonastic persecution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the rise of secularism in the nineteenth, all its branch houses were lost and it had become decimated to the extent that there were only five monks left in the decaying mother house: the abbot and four others, all over seventy in age. Clearly it was a dying order.

On the deep woods surrounding the monastery there was a little hut that a rabbi from a nearby town occasionally used for a hermitage. Through their many years of prayer and contemplation the old monks had become a bit psychic, so they could always sense when the rabbi was in the hermitage. “The rabbi is in the woods, the rabbi is in the woods again,” they would whisper to each other. As he agonized over the imminent death of his order, it occurred to the abbot as one such time to visit the hermitage and ask the rabbi if by some possible chance he could offer any advice that might save the monastery.

The rabbi welcomed the abbot at his hut. But when the abbot explained the purpose of his visit, the rabbi could only commiserate with him. “I know how it is,” he exclaimed. “The spirit has gone out of the people. It is the same in my town. Almost no one comes to the synagogue anymore.” So the old abbot and the old rabbi wept together. Then they read parts of the Torah and quietly spoke of deep things. The time came when the abbot had to leave. They embraced each other. “It has been a wonderful thing that we should meet after all these years, “the abbot said, “but I have still failed in my purpose for coming here. Is there nothing you can tell me, no piece of advice you can give me that would help me save my dying order?”

“No, I am sorry,” the rabbi responded. “I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you.”

When the abbot returned to the monastery his fellow monks gathered around him to ask, “Well, what did the rabbi say?” “He couldn’t help,” the abbot answered. We just wept and read the Torah together. The only thing he did say, just as I was leaving – it was something cryptic – was that the Messiah is one of us. I don’t know what he meant.”

In the days and weeks and months that followed, the old monks pondered this and wondered whether there was any possible significance to the rabbi’s words. The Messiah is one of us? Could he possibly have meant one of us monks here at the monastery? If that’s the case, which one? Do you suppose he meant the abbot? Yes, if he meant anyone, he probably meant Father Abbot. He has been our leader for more than a generation. On the other hand. He might have meant Brother Thomas. Certainly Brother Thomas is a holy man. Everyone knows that Thomas is a man of light. Certainly he could not have meant Brother Elred! Elred gets crotchety at times. But come to think of it, even though he is a thorn in people’s sides when you look back on it, Elred is virtually always right. Often very right. Maybe the rabbi did mean Brother Elred. But surely not Brother Phillip. Phillip is so passive, a real nobody. But then, almost mysteriously, he has a gift for somehow always being there when you need him. He just magically appears by your side. Maybe Phillip is the Messiah. Of course the rabbi didn’t mean me. He couldn’t possibly have meant me. I’m just an ordinary person. Yet supposing he did? Suppose I am the Messiah? O God, not me. I couldn’t be that much for You, could I?

As they contemplated in this manner, the old monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that one among them might be the Messiah. And on the off, off chance that each monk himself might be the Messiah, they began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect.

Because the forest in which it was situated was beautiful, it so happened that people still occasionally came to visit the monastery to picnic on its tiny lawn, to wander along some of its paths, even now and then to go into the dilapidated chapel to meditate. As they did so, without even being conscious of it, they sensed this aura of extraordinary respect that now began to surround the five old monks and seemed to radiate out from them and permeate the atmosphere of the place. There was something strangely attractive, even compelling, about it. Hardly knowing why, they began to come back to the monastery more frequently to picnic, to play, to pray. They began to bring their friends to show them this special place. And their friends brought their friends.

Then it happened that some of the younger men who came to visit the monastery started to talk more and more with the old monks. After a while one asked if he could join them. Then another. And another. So within a few years the monastery had once again become a thriving order and, thanks to the rabbi’s gift, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the realm.



[1] Tom Yeomans, Readings in Spiritual Psychology and lecture notes

[2] Yeomans, Soul on Earth, p 44

[3] Yeomans, Soul on Earth, p 46

[4] Thomas Yeomans, Soul on Earth, p 61

 [5] Michael Robbins, The Alchemy of Group Work

[6] Agazarian in Robbins Alchemy of Group Work

[7] Michael Robbins, The Alchemy of Group Work, p. 9

[8] Agazarian in Robbins Alchemy of Group Work

[9] Scott Peck, The Different Drum

[10] Appendix 1

[11] Scott Peck, The Different Drum, p. 68

[12]  FIRO is the theory used in UGL, Utveckling av grupp och ledare, a Swedish course in group and leadership development based on Will Schutz work.

[13] Assagioli, Psychosynthesis: Individual and Social

[14] James Vargiu, Subpersonalities p. 8

[15] Yeomans

[16] Richard Barrett, Liberating the Corporate Soul

[17] Scott Peck, The Different Drum, p. 118

[18] Yeomans

[19] Scott Peck, The Different Drum, p. 68

[20] Yoemans, Soul on Earth, p. 52

[21] Pierre Teihard de Chardin, Så Tror Jag, p 44 & 63

[22] Scott Peck, The Different Drum, p. 37

[23] Agslo

[24] Robbins, p 16

 

 

 

 

 

 

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"There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way." The Buddha

Beth Hammarström & Relationer

 

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"There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way." The Buddha

Beth Hammarström & Relationer