It is well-known group psychotherapy in its modern form, developed from the reconstructive and reparative forces of World War II. Valiant efforts to use group forces, "by the group they were broken, by the group they should be mended", in mental hospitals were made. Moreno gave birth to psychodrama, Trigant Burrow to group analysis. These were the harbengers of work to come.
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Vol. 2, núm. 3 - Agosto 2003
Revista Internacional On-line / An International On-line Journal
TRAINING AT IGA, LONDON
It is well-known group psychotherapy in its modern form, developed from the reconstructive and
reparative forces of World War II. Valiant efforts to use group forces, "by the group they were
broken, by the group they should be mended", in mental hospitals were made. Moreno gave birth to
psychodrama, Trigant Burrow to group analysis. These were the harbengers of work to come.
Group psychotherapy, small groups, large groups, therapeutic community, erupted in British military
psychiatry. Necessity gave birth to Bion's leaderless small groups, when a British Army had to
reform post-Dunkirk catastrophe. John Rickman drew on his experience as a Quaker doctor, a
shrewd social observer in a Russian village during World War I where he learnt how communities
self-regulate. Wilfred Bion drew on his experiences of loss and recovery of morale while serving in
the tank core in that same war. Foulkes may have derived some ideas of the importance of matrix
and communicative networks whilst he was a telephone operator in the German army. His future
colleague Norbert Elias lived through the perils of repairing broken wires in the front line. These were
the experiences that lay the ground for the dynamic psychiatry of World War II. We know now from
Harrison's (2000) researches of Northfield, of the disputes over what methods treatment and
training should be used. Harold Bridger and Tom Main against Michael Foulkes and his supporters.
Foulkes, the only recognised and trained psychoanalyst, gets seminars of psychoanalysis and group
psychotherapy, but was seen by his opponents as insufficiently radical: a thesis re-ignited by Dalal
50 years later. (Dalal 1998).
So, when and how was group-analytic training born? The Institute of Group Analysis was founded in
197.. Before that, Foulkes and James Anthony had formed the Group-Analytic Society in 1952. At
first it was closed group of founder members, which in 1955 was enlarged. Full members were
medical, lay persons, including Norbert Elias, were associates. Training consisted of weekly
seminars, observing groups by sitting as an observer in groups conducted by senior members, then
conducting groups under supervision, first with supervisor sitting in, later by reporting, leading to
qualification for independent practice. Qualification then meant being accepted as an associate
member of the Group-Analytic Society. This training followed the established apprenticeship model
of psychoanalytic training. Candidates were expected to have had the experience of personal
psychoanalysis and then to participate in therapeutic groups. That was the state of the GroupAnalytic Society when I came to know it in the early 1950s, both as an analysand of SH Foulkes and
as a training psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital, where he had organised a quite large and
efficient outpatient department, which offered group psychotherapy to a wide range of disorders.
Now to the formation and history of training at the Institute of Group Analysis, London. Robyn
Skinner and Pat de Mare were approached by psychiatric social workers to teach them
psychotherapy. The first cohort consisted of about 12 persons, the second many more. Colleagues
who had met at the Maudsley Hospital and who had joined the Group-Analytic Practice, also founded
by SH Foulkes and James Anthony, resolved to create a new organisation, an Institute of Group
Analysis to systematise training. Amongst the founders were Robin Skynner, Pat de Mare, Vivienne
Cohen, Heinz Wolf, myself, all psychiatrists and James Hume, a lay analyst. Foulkes himself, though
I think not too keen on the idea, went along with it.
To begin with, we offered a 1 year introductory course, consisting of weekly lectures, some
seminars, and experiential groups. Three terms of 10 weeks or more, and later the last term was
turned over to an experiential large group instead of lectures. We were surprised and delighted by
our success - more and more applicants. Initially there was no selection, though we tried to
encourage mental health professionals: priests, educators, probation officers soon joined. Our
trainees wanted more, so we offered more: an advanced course, as a second and even a third year.
Finally, we planned a qualifying course, which would lead to membership of the Institute of Group
Analysis and which should be the only route to membership of that organisation. No grandfather or
grandmother clause. Twice-weekly group analysis, to begin with mostly in groups at the Group
Analytic Practice, with persons who had sought treatment for their own difficulties. Theory of
supervision was organised. Theory concerned basic psychoanalysis, basic group analysis and group
psychotherapy. Group analysis was on the Foulkesian model, with sideways glances at other models,
such as Bion, Ezriel, Whitaker and Lieberman, Wolf and Schwartz.
Foulkes and I jointly gave series seminars, later Dennis Brown took over. Other teachers,
increasingly our graduates, offered their particular experiences in hospital psychiatry, child and
family work, where Robin Skynner was our authority and leading light. The training was designed to
last 3 academic years.
Two significant episodes: The quite large number of family and marital therapists who joined our
course were discontented with the emphasis of psychoanalysis and group analysis. They wanted
systems theory, Bateson, Palo Alto, the Milan School. Robin Skynner tried to hold things together,
but had to accept the inevitable and headed a new Institute for Marital and Family Therapy, whilst
himself staying loyal to group analysis.
He was our most successful and prolific author and it is sad that he was struck down in his prime by
a stroke, which he bore with courage and dignity.
Another major development was redesigning a comprehensive curriculum organised by the
Curriculum Committee, which I had founded and for many years chaired. We re-thought our theory
of teaching to give more or less equal weight to individual social and group dynamics. Thus, term 1
was given the title "Mind, Self and Society". For many years I taught the socio-cultural and historical
approach to the concept of self. Of course, Norbert Elias was important, but we went back to the
ancient Greeks, to medieval society, to the origins of the modern self in the pre-Renaissance period.
We looked at the child in the family, the family as a group, group in society. Child development,
normal and pathological; psychopathology; neurosis and psychosis. Right from the start our students
studied group analysis both as a theory and as a practice: selection and formation of groups, the
role of the therapist at both dynamic and as administrator and group conductor was given much
attention. We had plenty of material to fill a 3 year didactic training with a later obligation to write
both a clinical and a theoretical essay.
What of selection: selection became progressively rigorous. All candidates had to take the
introductory First Year, however well-qualified and experienced they might be. Many balked at this,
but those who accepted, recognised that they had benefited. Then belonging to a twice-weekly
therapy group for a year, a psychiatric interview, a panel of selectors. Many candidates, including
some senior members of the Institute, had to re-apply after having had more therapy. Sadly, some
candidates were rejected even after several attempts. There were hurt feelings, appeals. Probably
some mistakes were made, but the science of selection is still problematic.
What of personal psychoanalysis? This is not a requirement. Many applicants have had their own
psychoanalytic psychotherapy, others go on after qualification into individual therapy, either because
they wish to have an additional qualification for practising individual therapy, or for more personal
reasons. There is a tendency for people to go into analytic psychotherapy rather than psychoanalytic
therapy. A very few persons leave group analysis to become exclusively psychoanalyst. Perhaps
issues of status are involved.
In the United Kingdom there are two rival organisations competing for public recognition and
governmental recognition as representing psychotherapy trainings: the psychoanalyst and analytical
psychologists who call themselves members of the British Confederation of Psychotherapy: there are
many other organisations, which include Group Analysis, belong to a less exclusive organisation
United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. Group Analysis is not a watered down psychoanalysis. It
has its own inner strength and dignity.
Supervision. The trainee has to select and form a therapy group. Many find openings as part of their
employment in the National Health Service or Social Services: others are unpaid honorary assistants
in such units. Supervision is in groups, optimally groups of 3 or 4 trainees. The group must run for at
least 2 calendar years and recently, to comply with the European regulations, a second group
running for up to 1 year is added, which may be a specialist group rather than a mixed clinical
group. The candidates groups meet once a week. Towards the end of their training they bring their
experience together in their clinical and theoretical essays, many of which reach a very high
standard, and which are judged by a panel of readers, who may ask them to rewrite if they do not
seem to reach the necessary standard.
Training outside London. Trainings in group analysis recognised by the Institute of Group Analysis
take place in Manchester, Glasgow and Dublin. Other centres are pressing for recognition. All these
other trainings take place in what we call the "block system": therapy over the week-ends, teaching
with a combination of local and visiting group analysts. The enthusiasm in these other trainings is
very high, probably higher than in London, as the trainees seem less drained of energy than our
London students, who indeed find it difficult to pursue both training and full-time employment at the
Inevitably, there was some rivalry between London and the other centres, rivalry now more or less
reconciled and all can call themselves members of the Institute of Group Analysis with the name of
their training organisation added, eg. Institute of Group Analysis (Manchester), (Glasgow), (Dublin).
A recent development is that students who are taking the IGA London Qualifying Course can elect to
sit for the Master of Arts of the University of London. This is validated by Birkbeck College. Its
requirement is for additional paperwork and assessments.
If we cast our minds back 20 years, you will recall that homosexuality was a bar to psychoanalytic
training. It is widely known that despite this policy, gay and lesbian analysts were trained through
concealing their sexual orientation. Now the gates are wide open. In group analysis we opened the
gates somewhat earlier.
Nowadays we are all more sensitive to issues of ethnicity. Dalal, a Parsee, born in India, has
expanded our thinking with his recent book "Race, Colour and the Processes of Racialisation: New
Perspectives from Group Analysis, Psychoanalysis and Sociology" (Brunner-Routledge, 2002). Dalal
has highlighted the hidden dimension of power in psychotherapy, thus following on Trigant Burrow's
pioneering lonely path. When Burrow brought these issues of power to the psychoanalytic
community, they were refuted; this path eventually led to his exclusion from the American
Psychoanalytic Association, despite his having been a founder member and former president. He was
a man ahead of his times who endured the fate that Bion predicted for those who "menace the
existing web of thought", the "defensive termination of the unknown Messianic idea, or person, or
The accepted order in group analysis has been a theoretical framework broadly outlined by SH
Foulkes in the 20 years after 1945. This framework is sufficiently robust and flexible to
accommodate and respond to internal criticism. I refer here to Morris Nitsun and Farhad Dalal.
Nitsun (1996) indites for an over-optimistic and idealising belief in the power of the group to
overcome destructive anti-group forces. His criticism, which I do not agree with, has encouraged
debate and has indeed brought group-analytic theory into prominence, particularly in North America,
which hitherto had paid relatively little attention to group analysis, preferring the apparently more
radical approach of object-relations theory and Bion.
In Dalal's first book, subtitled "Towards a Post-Foulkesian, Group-Analytic Theory" (Jessica Kingsley
Publications 1998), he asserts that there is a disjunction between Foulkes, the "orthodox"
psychoanalyst, still wedded to individualistic psychoanalytic theory and "radical Foulkes", whose
ideas were inspired by the sociological thoughts of his close friend Norbert Elias. For Elias, the
personal is profoundly social: Dalal writes that the social unconscious "is a representation of the
institutionalisation of social power relations in the structure of the psyche itself" (page 209, Taking
the Group Seriously: Towards a Post-Foulkesian Group-Analytic Theory. Jessica Kingsley
Publications, 1998). Earl Hopper, a powerful theorist, who essays to integrate sociology,
psychoanalysis and group analysis explores the concept of the Social Unconscious from a somewhat
different perspective. (2003)
I present these contributions to convey that group analysis is a progressive body of knowledge with
boundaries oven to developments in the neighbouring fields: I could also speak of Neuroscience,
particularly the mirror neurone, or the economic theory, where Adam Smith spoke about society as a
mirror for the individual and genetics and evolutionary psychology.
How is this developing field expressed in our teaching? The expansion of knowledge and the wide
application of group-analytic theory and practice has led to introduction of Modules.
All students share a common First Year of Theory and subsequently they make choices amongst
Modules on offer:
Modules are particular areas of theory and practice, such as Gender & Sexuality,
Social Unconscious and Culture
Victims and Perpetrators
This major step in our Curriculum is a response to the differing needs of our students. The "one size
fits all" model is no longer valid. Students have a wide range of knowledge and experience when
they enter training. Some are novices to the field of psychotherapy, others have years of experience.
They have different needs and different career structures. The modular development imposes new
tasks for teachers and complex organisational demands, another necessary challenge to the health
of the Institute of Group Analysis.
IGA London is the UR Institute. It is the model from which other European Institutes develop on and
for which they create their own identities. IGA Athens, Denmark, Norway, have their own
characteristics. Institutions at the periphery are often emboldened, are able to be innovational. They
are less held down by tradition and bureaucracy. Overall, the picture as I see it in London is a
healthy one and we are all linked together in the European Group-Analytic Training Institutes
Network. We can look forward to hearing from these Institutes and from others which I have not so
far mentioned on this notable occasion.
Harrison T. (2000). Bion, Rickman, Foulkes and the Northfield Experiment. Advancing on a different
Front. London, Jessica Kingsley Publications.
Dalal, F (1998). Taking the Group Seriously. Towards a Post-Foulkesian Group Analysis. Jessica
Bion, W.R. Cogitations, page 319. Karnac, London1992.
Hopper, E. The Social Unconscious. Jessica Kingsley 2003.
ASMR Revista Internacional On-line - Dep. Leg. BI-2824-01 - ISSN 1579-3516
CORE Academic, Instituto de Psicoterapia, Manuel Allende 19, 48010 Bilbao (España)
Copyright © 2002