The disclosure of personal data to a wider public has been recorded negatively, as when it occurs in competitive contexts such as the court or the small screen, it becomes an occasion to undermine human dignity.
In contrast, the psychotherapy group does not favor unconditional exposure, but achieves the protected space that acts healing as it offers the experience of corrective experience.

In the therapeutic group, in addition to the valuable, but unequal relationship with the therapist, the members experience equal relationships with each other and share life experiences.

The therapeutic team accepts and includes the members. It is debilitating and at the same time leads to the assumption of personal responsibility.

It binds to life processes and frees from dysfunctional patterns of the past.

It provides the functional framework and invites members to experience the ability to contribute and maintain functionality.

Trust is built starting from the face of the therapist who accepts and honors everyone by experiencing the beauty of accompanying each member in the desire for change. When the prestigious person exercises his scientific capacity with respect and empathy, he inspires the corresponding way of dealing between the members.

Experiences demand the intimacy of repetition even if they are traumatic. The treatment is called to bring the discontinuity, it is called to break the vicious circle. It mobilizes the patient from passively accepting situations to actively dealing with them. It reflects to one who feels like a victim, how with his own attitude in today he contributes to the perpetuation of the situation. Other times she reveals to him how easily she reverses the role and becomes the aggressor, while she thinks she is the victim.

The therapeutic team moves functionally towards the dynamic utilization of situations and leads so that any traumatic event is not recorded in terms of its pathology. A person's development is not determined only by external traumatic events. In any case, he has the ability to choose the way he will deal with it.

V. Frankl in his book "searching for the meaning of life and freedom in a concentration camp" mentions that even in the fait accompli of death the convict could choose whether to die with his head held high.
In a group of young women in her 2nd year of treatment, Anna reveals an important secret: her father has committed murder after being provoked by his brother's killer.

The team listens respectfully and stands by. Anna is given the opportunity to express feelings she had repressed, to talk about the burden she was experiencing in the parental home, about her mother's difficult position. It refers to the decisive role played by the incident in the violent uprooting of the father from his place of origin.

The therapeutic process allows Anna to explore her difficulty with her father and express her anxiety about provoking him and her fears about the destructive expression of his anger. Deep down she saw him as evil, deep down she feared that his outburst would be disastrous.

At the same time, the effort to understand the father's behavior in this specific event is favored, as it took place in the closed circle of relatives who asked the village for retribution, in the context of the destructive dynamics of the vendetta in which the whole family was involved.

Anna had never shared this fact with her husband, because she was afraid of rejection, not only from her husband, but also from her parents. Already, discounting his attitude, she considered her husband evil, like her father.

That traumatic event, which happened before he was born, comes underground and undermines the new couple's relationship today. Anna, in her attempt to keep the secret from being revealed and to protect her paternal family, becomes disproportionately angry with her husband when he judges her father. So she gets a bad husband, then a bad father. She is still trapped in her paternal family, which alienates her from her husband.
She has transferred her defensive attitude towards the father to the relationship with the partner, with the result that she is unable to follow him with freedom and trust in a relationship of love and romance.

The therapist connects Anna's frequent unnecessary anger and misunderstandings towards her husband with the internalized negative image of her father. She empowers Anna to talk to her husband and helps her prepare.

The moment of revelation will be described later by Anna. She has chosen the right time, she speaks to her husband in confidence and asks for his understanding. And he responds with distinction and delicacy, with love and tenderness.

She recognizes her parents' struggle to survive and speaks of them with respect. This will then free Anna from the role of super-parent and allow her to move towards her husband.

The trauma is numbing. Instead, psychotherapy creates cracks in entrenched situations and impasses and opens up new perspective, allowing for flexibility and functionality. A member of the treatment team described psychotherapy with an image: traveling to different landscapes, in different seasons, and frequently changing means of transport.

The team members are deeply moved. Anna led them into the magical space of the corrective experience. Self-accused of being lukewarm, as she stifled her strong emotions for fear that they would end up destructive, Anna experienced that she can stir up the strongest emotions in others.

The revelation of the secret led to other revelations as the trust and security of the team members grew. Deeply hidden secrets, forbidden feelings and experiences found their way to the light as members realized the power of the past in the present and the redemption that comes from processing the traumatic event.

The commitment to the psychotherapeutic process increased, the desire for change was established, as the group experienced Anna's improvement.

The therapeutic group achieves mutual mirroring of members when it fosters internal personal processing rather than impulsive unconditional release and facile interpretations. He achieves mirroring when he has already developed honest loving trusting relationships otherwise the mirror is hard and cold, causing pain and not healing.

It is within the terms of the therapeutic contract of the group how one mirrors the other: empathy, interest, mutual respect, non-display of knowledge and cerebral ideas, equality of members are inviolable conditions of participation in existential group psychotherapy.

Interpretations are effective when they are done at the right time, they are never the same for the same situations when they involve different persons.

Memory in ancient times was considered the mother of the muses, i.e. of beauty, creation, science, fine arts. However, when the memory brings to the surface unpleasant traumatic experiences, if the possibility of processing, understanding and overcoming is not given, rejection is often considered an option. In the movie "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" the man's agonizing attempt to forget the unpleasant things is mentioned, but along the way he finds that at the same time he forgets the positives as well.

Psychotherapy utilizes the function of memory. It focuses comfortably and confidently between the past and the present.

The patient is redeemed when he makes connections between the experience in the context of the paternal family and his current impasses, the old trauma and the current ineffectiveness. Understanding leads to differentiation and reconciliation with the past, with people, with life.

The therapeutic group utilizes the collective memory to recognize the shared experience and release into the realization of universality. Later, collective memory will provide validation of change as the group remembers the initiation of treatment and each member's incremental steps of improvement.

The experience of co-existing relieves the suffering of the group’s members. There is not any human thought or action totally unrelated to other persons experience.

Reluctance to disclose sexual abuse usually leads other members to share similar experiences. They discuss the abuse, and the subsequent mental devastation they experienced. They talk about the experience of guilt from the social environment or disappointment from the prestigious person of the intimate environment who not only abuses but also charges the imagination of the victim as responsible. They share feelings of shame, guilt, rage and loneliness, alienation from the body itself as guilty, grief over the distortion of love, mourning over the violent end of innocence and the deprivation of the anticipation of the sanctity of love.

And then the group will talk about innocence regained. It will open perspectives recognizing the beauty and majesty of innocence that is regained and is a conscious life decision, the green of the forest after the fire.

The therapeutic group provides a social microcosm where members relive important life relationships by projecting their own feelings onto others through the mechanism of transference. It thus offers the possibility to expose the members under more favorable conditions to emotional situations which in the past they could not handle and to recognize their own participation in the perpetuation of the problem.

Sonia has experienced repeated physical and emotional abuse as a child. In a meeting where team members insisted on supporting her when she talked about her guilt, as well as her own abuse of her 4-year-old daughter, Sonia became angry and impulsively left the team area. Her emotion was inconsistent with the event, which is reminiscent of childhood experiences.

As A. Napier states: "To focus on that which upsets us, on that which seems disproportionate to the situation, which puts us in a difficult position, which is repetitive and excessive. An "excessive" feeling of this kind leads us to some important revelation about ourselves and is directly related to experiences in the paternal family.

Sonia, because she had lived in a climate of rejection, violation, lack of respect, could not distinguish the feeling of others that she had care, interest and sympathy. She rejected herself for her act and projected her own feelings onto others.

The next time she realized, if she misinterprets the positive feelings of others, she will eventually reject them and push them away, leading herself back to the familiar space of loneliness and rejection. Sonia experienced the same feelings, but this time in the protected group space. She was given the opportunity to understand what is happening, how she herself is involved and how she risks losing all the positive feelings that others have given her. He lived an emotional and corrective experience that means not only intense experience, but understanding and processing, through the experience of a meaningful relationship that develops in the here and now.

The therapeutic group shares anxieties and concerns regarding existential issues such as human freedom, the meaning of life, death, and then the members touch with awe the greatness and seriousness of existence which, as a litmus test, highlights what is valuable and what is secondary. The existential dimension drives the therapeutic process in depth and perspective.

In the long-term course of the group, it will happen that new members join on the one hand and old members leave on the other. Adaptation and separation evoke many emotions in the members, which are processed in the sheltered laboratory of the group and allowed to be harnessed in personal life.

Our age, as it is characterized by fast rhythms, underestimates the time given to preparation and parting; things remain weathered, they are not completed, they are not explained, they are not used.

Time in the group flows differently. It is protected from external breakdowns, it gives the seriousness and value corresponding to the healing process. It is consumed in the essence of things. It is not distributed fairly, but according to the needs of the members as they arise each time.

The therapeutic group enables members to discover that they are important to others. This rejuvenates and boosts self-esteem. The sense of transcending the limits of the ego redeems and gives meaning to life. The realization that they have something to offer makes them rich. They emerge from morbid self-absorption and compulsive introspection. They acquire life skills, of course, within the richness of relating. Often in the group members refer to each other assigning an important role to them for their improvement. They watch with bated breath the struggle of others and become animators of change.

When Katia reported the theft to the group, everyone supported her in claiming the money. But what touched her the most was Kostas' phrase: "Win it for us". Kostas, in his attempt to help Katia, realizes that he is carrying a heavy burden from a father who, on the occasion of a significant injustice that happened to him, resigned his life. If Katia persists, the hope is established that he too can resist the fate. If he helps her, she has already resisted resignation and the bitterness of injustice.

The lives of the members of the group are woven with strong threads of anotropy. Gradually the unique culture of each team is built. A microclimate is created, as it happens in the natural environment, where the growth of each plant enhances the growth of the other each grows uniquely, differently, but breathes next to the other.

The group experience is not limited to the group space, the important thing is that the members can transfer the experience of functional relatedness to their important personal relationships.
In the therapeutic group members cultivate empathy. According to Yalom: “the capacity for empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence and facilitates the transfer of learning from the therapeutic group to the wider world of the client. Without a sense of the mental world of others, relationships cause great mental confusion and frustration, and are repetitive as we mistakenly insert others into our own stories as players with prescribed roles.'
In a therapeutic group, emotion is mobilized as well as mental functions. Members experience emotions, learn to decode them as they contain valuable information, but at the same time learn to mentally process, connect past experiences with present entanglements and impasses, and be led to understanding and self-awareness.

Profit is important not only when they understand and support each other, but also when members come into conflict. The conflict brings to the surface corresponding raw important relationships of the members from the past.
The group offers the possibility of developing a relationship and at the same time understanding and processing. Each is present, available to offer all that is precious – their own self and their feelings – so that the other, the partner, can be truly mirrored and understood. On the other hand, there is never only individual benefit; when one offers to help another at the same time and unexpectedly discovers truths about oneself.

And the therapist? When he meets the desire of the treated person, when he succeeds in creating the contract and the atmosphere of safety and trust, then he favors the therapeutic process to begin.
The therapist leads and at the same time follows, creates, prototypes, produces and at the same time learns. He is in awe every time he gazes at the authentic human face, he admires the beauty of the relationships that are created, he appreciates the courage and tenacity of people to overcome the fatal, he feels the challenge when he is challenged, he constantly strives to provide personalized psychotherapy respecting the uniqueness of each person , lives a continuous interaction unique to each group, an occasion for continuing his own personal healing.

– Irvin Yalom: "Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy"
– V. Frankl: "Searching for the Meaning of Life and Freedom in a Concentration Camp"
– A. Napier: "The couple the fragile bond"

Eleni Karagiannis
Child psychiatrist – Group and family psychotherapist
5th Panhellenic Child Psychiatry Conference
June 8-10, 2007
Concert Hall, Athens