Imagery pp 137-144 | Cite as

Points of View: Working with Spontaneous Images in Group Psychotherapy

  • Mark F. Ettin


Amidst the complexities of the psychotherapy group, it is possible to see the way clear. Within the free flow of the group dialogue, mental images of abiding lucidity often arise spontaneously, figuratively following the twists and turns of interaction and literally leading towards sequences of meaningful exploration. Such emergent metaphoric and symbolic word-pictures serve to depict individual and interpersonal dynamics, while aptly characterizing the collective’s thematic patternings, resistances, and impasses (Ettin, 1986). Unlike the fixed motifs of Desoille (1965) and Leuner (1969, 1984), or the standard situations of Shorr (1978, 1983, 1986), and Ahsen (1981), these creative configurations often arise unbidden or unplanned (Horowitz, 1970; Ettin, 1982). Suddenly a mental picture comes to mind in direct response to the group’s timely need for concrete representations of its more abstract processes. By carefully attending to and following such portending images, members are helped to personalize meanings and clarify interchanges, while the group itself can both analyze its current trends and make necessary adjustments to its progress (Ettin, 1985).


Mental Imagery Active Imagination Mental Picture Formative Past Thematic Patterning 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark F. Ettin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.East BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryUMDNJ, Robert Wood Johnson Medical SchoolUSA

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