The quality of human relationship in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is facing major changes. Mental health care, clinical psychology, as well as social care and education are making first steps into development and implementation of the most progressive, scientifically elaborated methods of education, therapy and democratic group processes in the human communication. The situation in the area of group psychotherapy demonstrates existence of wide range of theoretical approaches, which are missing systematic and complete European level training programs, qualification standards, and properly trained teachers. There is great need of such education programs built into curriculum of local training institutions with their own tutors and mentors in every Baltic country.
The main goal of the Baltic Training Project in Group Analysis (BTPGA) is to bring the professional culture of Group Analysis in Baltic countries and to achieve the level of professionals able to implement their skills and knowledge in practice, educate other professionals, to introduce and train other close professionals (nurses, educators, representatives from legal system) and to create network for scientific, practical and tutorial exchange in Baltic countries.
Group Analysis has wide application with small and large groups in psychiatry, psychotherapy and psychology, medical, social and educational work, organisational management, and resolution of multidisciplinary conflicts and development of democratic functioning in the society. The theory and method of Group Analysis is based on sociology, psychoanalytical psychology and Gestalt theories in psychology.
History of the Baltic Project of Training in Group Analysis
The Lithuanian Group Psychotherapy Association requested for 5 year Group Psychotherapy and Group Analysis training programme in 1991 to the representatives of the Institute of Group Analysis (Oslo, Norway). The idea was positively received, discussed, and finally supported by Norwegian Psychotherapy Committee in Norwegian Psychiatric Association/The Norwegian Medical Association in 1994. After years of joint efforts of Institute of Group Analysis (Oslo) and Lithuanian Group Psychotherapy Association the program was finally approved and financial support of was received from the Norwegian Council of Mental Health for first year of Introductory Course in 1995. The project has got moral support from Lithuanian Health Ministry, Vilnius University, Lithuanian Medical and Psychiatric Associations and in the subcommittee for Baltic countries of Nordic Psychiatric Joint Committee.
Three members of Institute of Group Analysis (Norway) – Steinar Lorentzen, Tore Sorlie, and Kjersty Lyngstad – conducted the introductory course of training for 31 psychiatrists (MD) and psychologists (MA) from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in 1995-1996 in Vilnius (Lithuania). As 29 participants completed the first year and the program got highly positive evaluation there was definitely high need for continuation of the project. The Nordic Council financially supported next two years of the project on the Advanced level of training in 1997-1999. The project extended with participation of Vivi Maar from Institute of Group Analysis and Family Therapy of Copenhagen, Denmark and became the five countries project with 5 trainers and 36 participants. Lithuanian Psychotherapeutic Society took the leading role as co-ordinating and hosting organisation. During third year of the BTPGA two Lithuanian trainers- Erna Petkute and Eugenijus Laurinaitis were approved by Institute of Group Analysis (Oslo) as affiliated teachers in the project and started their activities in the course. In this way the network was established both on the level of trainees, and on the level of teachers.
The BTPGA is administrated by Local Arrangement Committee (LAC), which was formally elected by the members of Group Analysis Section of Lithuanian Group Psychotherapy Association and representatives of Latvia and Estonia. Lithuanian Psychotherapeutic Society carried out financial management of the project. Financial report of the Project training years 1997/1998 has been presented to and approved by the Nordic Council. Regular meetings of the LAC and the trainers are decision-making body of the BTPGA. Main selection, program and certification decisions of BTPGA are being approved by Institute of Group Analysis (Oslo, Norway).
The tasks of the training programme is to prepare group analysts, supplying them with necessary knowledge and skills in the fields of group psychology, theories of personality, patient – therapist contact, analytical theories of development, theories of neurotic, psychosomatic and other psychogenic disorders, theoretical background of social, training and patient group functioning, process of group psychotherapy, group dynamics, selection of patients for group therapy; training the candidates to use analytically oriented group psychotherapy and counselling, diagnostics and selection of patients, leading small and large groups, training and supervising group analysts.
Successful completion of Introductory course provided participants with basic knowledge in group psychotherapy and group dynamics and enabled them to conduct groups in mental health and educational institutions and function as co-therapists in psychotherapy groups.
Successful completion of Advanced course has given the participants’ efficient knowledge and skills in group therapy and group dynamics to conduct psychotherapy groups independently in mental health institutions.
Successful completion of the Qualifying course (including Introductory and Advanced courses) after written clinical paper will be finalised in diploma of Group Analyst of IGA (Norway) and enable participants to become trainers and supervisors in Group Analysis.
Training format: 5 prolonged weekend blocks a year.
There are five groups of participants concomitantly undergoing theory and seminars, supervisions and three self-experience groups as well as large self-experience group. Introductory and evaluation meetings are held every block. Participants meet in peer groups between training blocks for theory discussions and intervisions as well.
Currently in the project are 28 participants of each level of training from Lithuania and Latvia . 10 of them have finished the education and applied for becoming the teachers. The same number of new participants are expected next year.
In 1999 the Lithuanian Group Analytic Society was founded. It took over all the responsibilities of the training from the Lithuanian Psychotherapy Association. Due to hard work of the representatives of LGAS the training program was approved asVilnius University Postgraduate Course in 2001.
Survey (see: Lorentzen S., et al. Block training in Group Psychotherapy in the Baltic States in Group Analysis // Group Analysis, Vol. 31, No. 3, September 1998—copy attached) presented the high rate of evaluation of the training by the participants. More than 80% of Introductory course participants expressed their wish to continue the training. The similar evaluation procedure is to be used in the evaluation of the Advanced course and the whole training program as well.
- The participants of the training project will get the knowledge and skills on their level of education;
- Group of 10 participants successfully finished the training and become certified Group Analysts;
- Some of the certified Group Analysts will become trainers for their countries.
- There will be developed training program on GA and established training institute in GA (in one or all three Baltic countries);
- The co-operation network of research, teaching and practice will be established among Nordic and Baltic countries;
- This will bring an important change in the functioning of mental health institutions, management training, and political decision-making procedures in Baltic countries.