For many individuals with a history of violent behaviour, group psychotherapy may be the treatment of choice. In a group setting, the violent person may feel safer and more contained than in individual therapy where the intensity of the relationship with the therapist may feel overwhelming. The triggers to potential violent behaviour may also be more easily recognised and confronted than in an individual treatment. Violent individuals may prove to be valuable group members, particularly in facilitating other members of the group in acknowledging their own anger and potential aggression, which may be an unrecognised but important component of their pathology. Many people who resort to violence have grown up in dysfunctional families in which anger and violence characterised the communication between family members. Such individuals inevitably have difficulty in forming intimate adult relationships based on mutual respect and trust. The group can act as a socio-familial microcosm in which the violent person’s interactions with other group members can be understood as reflecting the pathological dynamics of their original familial experiences. The group experience may offer the opportunity of learning more healthy and mature ways of relating to others.
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