Some groups may take on characteristics of psychotherapy cults. A leader may be charismatic, even helpful in some important ways, but not have formal training as a psychotherapist--or the person may once have received formal training, taken and passed coursework on ethics and boundary issues, yet be unable to apply such knowledge to running his or her groups.
If teacher and students are trapped in unexamined idealizing transferances, they are in a child's state of mind and will be unable to apply principles of boundary ethics which are taught and learned--and applied--- at the adult cognitive level.
If group members who happen to be psychotherapists unwittingly recruit their clients into the group, this becomes a violation of professional ethics.
*If a psychotherapist has someone as a client, the therapist has to accept that no matter how much he or she comes to like, and even love that client, certain types of relationships are [b:70297eb753]off limits [/b:70297eb753]during therapy--[i:70297eb753]and remain off limits even after therapy has successfully terminated. [/i:70297eb753]You cant become friends, lovers, business associates with a client or former client, nor is it ever appropriate to initiate recruitment into ones spiritual community.
In some cases, a group may refer troubled members to therapist disciples who loyally put the welfare of the group or teacher ahead of and at the expense of the counselee--therapists in this predicament may be unable to imagine that their beloved group or teacher could ever harm anyone, just as a tiny child cannot imagine Mom or Dad ever doing anything bad.
All this can be done with the very best of intentions if therapist disciples are unconscious in relation to their beloved teacher and group.
Finally, therapist-disciples may unknowingly violate professional ethics by teaching powerful techniques of trance induction or group work to an adored but uncredentialled leader who is untrained in the proper use of such methods.
[b:70297eb753]Psychodynamic Issues Possibly Relevant to Small Group Work[/b:70297eb753]
A prospective student should be aware of these issues when evaluating whether to join or continue in a group. The Catch-22 for many seekers is we begin the quest precisely because we are not aware of these issues...we begin the quest lacking the tools we need most for discernment purposes..[i:70297eb753]and that is why students deserve protection and teachers are in a protective role[/i:70297eb753].
In some spiritual traditions there is great prestige, even mystique in being a guru or teacher, because such persons are supposedly at a higher level of development than students. One works with such a teacher in order to strive toward attaining that higher level of development. In such a situation, many students could readily form idealizing transferances to such teachers.
Unless the teacher fully understands transferance/countertransferance, can get his or her intimacy needs met by peers and [i:70297eb753]not [/i:70297eb753]by students, and unless the teacher also knows how to assist students in working through their transferances, teacher and students may become trapped in each other's unconscious material.
Students thus entangled may wake up and become mature in many areas, and this progress may conceal the extent to which they they may remain asleep & regressed in relation to the teacher and group. Students in this predicament may lose ability to determine whether they are being helped or harmed by their participation. They may risk staying adoringly dependant on such a teacher for years, even decades.
In some cases, the teacher can have the best and most benevolent intentions while remaining a long-term inmate of an unconscious idealizing transferance toward his or her own master -whether that teacher is alive or dead.
If a guru or teacher is asleep in relation to his or her teacher, that teacher will be unable to assist students in waking up in relation to the teacher...
**This type of blind spot may be transmitted, unexamined, through many generations of sincere teachers. They may be able to assist their students to become awake and mature in relation to many things[i:70297eb753], but never in relation to the transferance, to the student-teacher relationship itself[/i:70297eb753].
IF these students become psychotherapists, they may be unable to apply what they learn about ethics and boundary issues to their teachers, if they are in an unexamined transferance to their teacher. These students may not even think to mention any of this to their clinical supervisors, or may keep it a secret, so the relationship to their guru or group leader and this issue remains un-explored during clinical supervision/training analysis.
And if a [i:70297eb753]clinical supervisor [/i:70297eb753]happens to have an intense but unexamined transferance to a guru, magus or teacher, that person will be unable to assist students in exploring this matter in relation to their own gurus.
Someone studied problems that came up in dysfunctional psychoanalytic training programs. The issues described by Robert S Pepper resemble problems that have been reported in troubled Fourth Way groups.
(quote--abstract from longer article)
Therapists who are trained at psychoanalytic institutes often foster unethical relationships between trainees and senior therapists. This practice may pass on the damage to the unsuspecting population of patients at large.
One way in which trainees are harmed, at these institutes, is in their failure to develop a clear sense of the importance of boundaries in treatment. In not learning how to develop a secure frame from their own treatment, neophyte therapists are often unable to recognize the need for appropriate boundaries in their treatment of others. As a result, their patients may be in danger.
The therapist who does not value the struggle to maintain a healthy balance between independence and dependence in their own treatment will probably not be able to help their patients find the proper balance either. One can only wonder how such a therapist could help their own patients know when the time to end treatment is at hand.
My own research seems to indicate that unethical treatment practices at these institutes cut across ideological and theoretical differences within the analytic community[i:70297eb753]. Consequently, the problem is not one of individuals who are poorly analyzed and poorly trained. Rather, the focus is a wider one, in which a serious blindspot seems to be endemic to a system that fosters a lack of regard for appropriate boundaries in treatment.'[/i:70297eb753]
Robert S. Pepper
27 (3): 215-223, Fall 1997
Copyright © 1997 Human Sciences Press, Inc.
All rights reserved
Treatment with Unethical Practitioners; Caveat Emptors
information on psychotherapy cults here: