This study examined the interactions of individuals who showed symptom improvement and those who showed symptom deterioration during the course of 12-14 sessions of group process psychotherapy. Both general group themes, as well as themes specific to improvers and deteriorators were found. General group themes included (a) an initial difficulty distinguishing between improvers and deteriorators, and (b) a tendency for group to focus on past or future focus versus present group issues. Specific themes for deteriorators included (a) substantial early disclosure in the group process, (b) open praise of the process of group, (c) the stated expectation of sharing deep personal information, (d) focus on others as well as questioning themselves, (e) concerns that were focused on family of origin, and (f) special interactions with group leaders. Specific themes for improvers included (a) initial hesitance in joining in the group process, (b) initiation of group time without apology, (c) tendency to announce and take credit for positive life changes, and (d) tendency to be checked in with by leaders and other members of group. Findings suggested the difference between deterioration and improvement may be subtle and thus difficult for group leaders to detect. Although the differences were not immediately apparent, a deeper examination of group process did reveal distinct interaction patterns for deteriorators that were different than those of improvers. These patterns of interactions for deteriorators and improvers are discussed. The general and specific themes found in this study are also examined in terms of the variables commonly examined in group (i.e. client variables, leader variables, and group variables) that may have contributed to the outcomes of group members. Clinical implications, limitations and future research directions are also discussed.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





group psychotherapy, qualitative research, deterioration in group, negative outcome in group