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May 1981

Therapeutic Factors in Group Psychotherapy: A Review

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford University, England (Dr Bloch); Littlemore Hospital, Oxford, England (Dr Crouch); and the Department of Behavioral Science, University of Chicago (Ms Reibstein).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1981;38(5):519-526. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780300031003

• This is a review of theoretical, empirical, and clinical research on therapeutic factors (TFs) in group psychotherapy covering the period 1955 to 1979. Therapeutic factors are processes that contribute to improvement in the patient's condition; they are different from conditions for change and from techniques. The following TFs are examined: self-disclosure, interaction, acceptance (cohesiveness), insight, catharsis, guidance, altruism, vicarious learning, instillation of hope, and an existential factor. Criteria for adequate experimental design in group research are proposed. About 40% of the works reviewed contain empirical studies; the quality of these studies is variable both conceptually and methodologically. It is difficult to assess the extent to which clinical practice has actually been influenced by this work on TFs.

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