The adult and the therapist in an adolescents group: new object and transferential object


The psychology of groups and certain structural dynamic elements of their functioning are common to all groups. However, there are some variables that change according to the emotional needs and developmental tasks connected to the age of the individuals that comprise such groups. The basic feature that clearly distinguishes therapeutic groups for adults from groups comprising children or adolescents is asymmetric union, that is, the concomitant presence of an adult or adolescents. An adolescent views the leader of a group as an adult before he perceives him as a therapist, and this immediately gives a specific connotation to their relationship. In all adolescent therapeutic groups, sooner or later the therapist is asked about his age, his physical decline or his aging. The adult in a group of adolescents is the physical witness of time, of the age difference and thus of the difference between generations: this conjures up the thought of aging and makes death present. Indeed, to have access to an adult identity, the adolescent must accept changes in his body and sexuality. He Read more


A home for the dragon


Di Giovanni has called the minimal playing unit “ludeme” (2005). The agglomerates of “ludemes” give life to the scenic thinking by going through the playing body. When Anna Baruzzi (1979) spoke of therapeutic groups with children (developmental age), she described working with emotions as “giving a home to the dragon”. One of the functions of the leader in a therapeutic group of children is to facilitate and witness the process that evolves through the transformation from action into playing and, only later, from playing into words. It is clear how the therapeutic work in a group of young children cannot leave aside playing all together, which includes the involvement of the therapist him/herself at a body level. The bodily engagement becomes the first home that is able to welcome the dragon – that is, the hot emotions. To give a home to the dragon is the same as to provide Read more


The Bodily Dimension in Groups of Children


The work is based on the results of a clinical research project made over a fifteen year period on open groups in which children of different age groups participated. In group with children, the prevailing language is the primitive one of body language, whose alphabet, represented by sensory and motor functions, directly addresses the emotions. With children it is necessary to start with this archaic language of actions because their thought processes are concentrated on motorial “explosions”. The alpha function transforms the beta elements into that which Bion calls alpha elements, namely into those psychic elements that have characteristics that can be used as thoughts. The conductor collects the beta elements and after removing the distressing aspects, returns them to the children, thereby giving them the basis of an ability to think. The transformational path for the children is based primarily upon this passage from motorial action to the ability to describe what they feel. It is therefore necessary to note how narrative in groups of children is generated through forms of bodily contact, which often arrive at the borders of action.
Consequently, the function of the conductor must be based mainly on an Read more