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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: The authors introduce their own five-stage model of group development in this book, including the tasks of both the group members and leaders.
Purpose: According to the authors, "our primary goal is to provide readers with an in-depth coverage of group development, historically and contemporaneously, focusing on theory; research; and, of course, practice. They note that although they "describe the literature on child and adolescent groups that bears on the topic, this book is primarily about group development as it pertains to adult psychotherapy groups."
Audience: They intend their book for experienced group psychotherapists, therapists relatively new to group psychotherapy, and graduate students and others in training in various disciplines, including clinical and counseling psychology, clinical social work, psychiatry, couples and family work, and pastoral counseling. In addition, they feel the book would be useful for "researchers and those interested in developing or refining theoretical approaches for group psychotherapy." Dr. Brabender is the associate dean and director of the Institute for Graduate Clinical Psychology of Widener University in Pennsylvania and Dr. Fallon is on the faculty of the Fielding Graduate University in California and associate professor at Drexel University in Pennsylvania.
Features: This book begins with theoretical concepts and research. The authors then introduce their five-stage model of group development: formation and engagement; conflict and rebellion; unity and intimacy; integration and work; and termination. It ends with future directions for contextual group variables. The book is readable, with helpful tables and exhibits. The authors present wonderful vignettes which help readers understand group therapy as it is displayed in the clinical session. The vignettes contain both characteristic behavior of members and tasks and conflicts. Other helpful features include a glossary and an author and subject index. I really enjoyed how the authors integrate their five-stage model with various group approaches including cognitive, cognitive-behavioral, and behavioral (chapter 7). Their discussion of constructivism and social constructionism in chapter 8 is fascinating in the way it shows how they are related to group development.
Assessment: This is an excellent book for understanding group dynamics and development. It is useful for both novice therapists and seasoned veterans. The instructive vignettes show how the concepts relate to clinical practice. It compares favorably to Groups: A Counseling Specialty, 5th edition, by Gladding (Prentice Hall, 2007), and The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, 5th edition, by Yalon (Basic Books, 2005). Either one of these can probably be a standalone text for a graduate class, where Group Development in Practice is not comprehensive in the same way. However, this is a good instructional tool for learning about group therapy and readers will not be disappointed.