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Tukman's original article on stages of group development

Posted on September 19, 2012 at 2:23 PM Comments comments (103)
Reading Berne's 1963 book the other day I thought: How odd that we use Tuckman's stages to describe how the psychotherapy group evolves, instead of Berne's own phases of group imago differentiation. The two describe the same process, in different words. Petruska Clarkson was onto this ages ago. Her very useful guide through the stages aligns Tuckman's sequence with Berne's phases. Here is the TAJ article by Petruska Clarkson. 

Tuckman's model of group development has been adopted by the TA community a central concept. The original article, published in 1965 in the Psychological Bulletin:

In a 1983 article Tuckman reflects on the experience that led him to come up with this model: "This week's citation classic". I add this article because I personally find it illuminating to know the history and experience that allows an idea/system/theory comes to to take shape. 


Group Imago

Posted on September 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM Comments comments (4)
I am currently considering the question of what TA concepts I use most in my work with group. For my research I went back to Berne's books on groups: The Structure and Dynamics of Organizations and Groups (1993) and Principles of Group Treatment (1966).

I am drawn most to Berne's concept of Group Imago. From my notes: 

Group Imago (1966,p.153) “The private structure, that is, the group as seen through the eyes of each member, is found in the group imago of the member. This private structure is the most decisive structural aspect for the outcome of the individual’s therapy.”

And an earlier definition (1993/1966, p.244)  Any mental picture, conscious, pre-conscious or unconscious of what a group is or should be like.

In the course of the group process the group imago may go through the following phases: -       provisional imago. Before entering the group or before the group is activated, based on fantasies and previous experiences with groups
-       adapted. Specifically modified in accordance with the member’s estimate of the confronted reality
-       operative. Further modified in accordance with the member’s perception of how he fits into the leader’s imago
-       secondarily adjusted. The final phase, in which the member relinquishes some of his own proclivities in favour of the group cohesion.

It seems to me that the unavoidable process of transformation that the internal structure or Group Imago goes through, directly influences what Berne terms the "major and minor internal group processes", or the conflicts that arise at the contact point between self and group leader on the one hand and self and other on the other.

What I would like to explore is how the group emerges from these multiple images and multiple realities, and also how the therapist's Group Imago is influenced by the pressures placed on her to fit with the picture of the relationship the way the client sees it. I think that the Group Imagoes, or private structures or private narratives, are the major structuring force in the group and in the leader. 

Bruce Tuckman's (1965, 1977) model for stages of group development predicts the following stages: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning, which iare nothing other than various stages of adjustment that the private structures or private imagoes go through.