Evolution of Group Therapy: Shamanism to Science

Explore group therapy's journey from ancient shamanic practices to contemporary scientific methods, understanding its psychological intricacies.
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Illustration "Group Coherence" by Vecteezy

The Origins of Group Therapy: Shamanic Traditions

Group therapy has become an increasingly popular approach in psychological treatment, offering several advantages over individual therapy. Though the formal psychological practice of group therapy dates back to the late 19th century, its origins stem from ancient shamanic traditions.

Shamanism is a spiritual practice that has been present in various cultures worldwide for thousands of years (Eliade, 1964; Harner, 1990; Ingerman, 2004). Shamans often conducted group ceremonies and rituals as spiritual leaders and healers to address their communities’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The shaman guided group healing sessions, facilitating the process of self-discovery, introspection, and transformation among participants using tools such as storytelling, music, dance, and meditation. These ancient practices laid the groundwork for modern group therapy techniques.

Early Developments in Group Therapy

In the late 19th century, psychiatrist J.H. Pratt conducted group sessions for individuals with tuberculosis (Pratt, 1905). However, it was not until the 1940s that group therapy gained widespread recognition. Researchers such as Jacob Moreno, Samuel Slavson, and Hyman Spotnitz significantly contributed to the field. Moreno, for instance, developed psychodrama, a group therapy technique that uses role-playing and dramatization to explore and resolve conflicts within individuals and groups (Moreno, 1946). Slavson, on the other hand, focused on analytic group psychotherapy, emphasizing the importance of free association, transference, and resistance (Slavson, 1950). Spotnitz, meanwhile, specialized in the psychoanalysis of schizophrenia and developed a technique called “Modern Psychoanalysis,” which involved group therapy sessions for schizophrenic patients (Spotnitz, 1961).

Yalom’s Therapeutic Factors in Group Therapy

Irvin Yalom, an American psychiatrist, revolutionized the understanding of group therapy and its psychological underpinnings. In his seminal book “The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy,” Yalom identified eleven therapeutic factors that contribute to the effectiveness of group therapy (Yalom, 1970). These factors include universality, altruism, the instillation of hope, and interpersonal learning, among others. Yalom’s work has been instrumental in furthering the scientific understanding of the psychological processes underlying group therapy.

Benefits and Limitations of Group Therapy

One of the primary differences between group therapy and individual therapy is the presence of multiple individuals with diverse experiences and perspectives. This diversity can lead to a rich and dynamic environment that fosters learning, growth, and healing (Yalom, 1970). In individual therapy, the focus is primarily on the relationship between the therapist and the client. In contrast, in group therapy, the focus is on the relationships among group members. However, it is essential to acknowledge that group therapy may not suit everyone. Some individuals may prefer the privacy and personalized attention offered by individual treatment. Additionally, addressing specific psychological issues may be more effective one-on-one. The therapist can tailor therapy to the client’s unique needs.

Integration of Shamanic Practices in Modern Group Therapy

Incorporating shamanic practices into modern group therapy has led to the development of innovative techniques and approaches. These techniques, rooted in ancient wisdom, can offer participants unique and powerful therapeutic experiences. For example, some therapists have integrated shamanic drumming, journeying, or rituals into their group therapy sessions to facilitate deep emotional and spiritual healing (Ingerman, 2004).

In conclusion, group therapy is a complex and fascinating field with deep historical roots in shamanic practices. The therapeutic factors identified by Yalom provide a framework for understanding the various ways group therapy can be effective. However, it is crucial to recognize that individual therapy may be more appropriate for specific individuals or psychological issues. Ultimately, clients should base their decision to pursue group or individual therapy on their unique needs and preferences.

References:

Pratt, J.H. (1905). The open-air treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. American Journal of Nursing, 5(6), 393-398.
Yalom, I.D. (1970). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy. Basic Books.
Moreno, J. L. (1946). Psychodrama: Volume 1. Beacon House.
Slavson, S. R. (1950). Analytic group psychotherapy with children, adolescents, and adults. Columbia University Press.
Spotnitz, H. (1961). Modern psychoanalysis of the schizophrenic patient: Theory of the technique. Grune & Stratton.
Eliade, M. (1964). Shamanism: Archaic techniques of ecstasy. Princeton University Press.
Harner, M. (1990). The way of the shaman. HarperOne.
Ingerman, S. (2004). Shamanic journeying: A beginner’s guide. Sounds True.

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FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

by ivan roca

GENERAL

Bioqr™ is bioenergy-assisted immune treatment. A therapist uses his own bio-electromagnetic field to stimulate the patient’s immune system in a nonspecific and specific way. The stimulated immune system responds and “heals” the patient.

Bioqr™ therapy is a bioenergy treatment first developed in Eastern-Europe in the late 1960s as a modern, secular approach to traditional hands-on healing methods with biological and physical reasoning. Later, the method crossed Eastern-Europe to ex-Yugoslavia in the late 1970s’ where it has merged with similar methodologies and has been researched and applied as a complementary medical intervention. The founder of Biotherapy Asia, Ivan Roca, adapted these methodologies and cleared it from the folklore and unnecessary procedures, techniques, and philosophies. Bioqr™ method is a purely medical, highly structured bioenergy system that can be easily applied in a clinical or non-formal environment. The name of the method is Bioqr™ – Human Bioenergy Therapy.

Bioenergy is the energy dynamic observed within living organisms. Also, it is a scientific name that tries to encompass a very broad interdisciplinary area of research into the energy of a living organism. “Bios” is an Ancient Greek word meaning life, and energy is another Ancient Greek word, meaning activity, but here it signifies potential and possibility. Bioenergy has nothing to do with concepts like bioplasma, Chi, Qi, Ki, Prana, Universal energy, Life energy or Orgon.

Yes, with an electromyography device (EMG).

EMG is an electrodiagnostic medicine technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. EMG is performed using an instrument called an electromyograph to produce a record called an electromyogram. An electromyograph detects the electric potential generated by muscle cells when these cells are electrically or neurologically activated.

No. The therapy is successful even if a person does not believe in the biological effect of the immune system stimulation with the human bioenergy field, which is a result of ignorance and a lack of information.

The body response does not depend on our beliefs. It is an automatic and autonomic biological process.

A Bioqr™ therapist uses different hand positions and movements in combination with muscular tension and/or relaxation to stimulate the recipient’s immune system for his/her specific medical condition. Human endogenous bio-electromagnetic radiation interferes with the bioenergy processes of a diseased person to alter the metabolism and cause a body shock response that triggers the immune system activation in a specific and non-specific way.
Every movement has a different energetic signature so that the biotherapist can trigger an immune response in different tissues for different purposes. Immune response due to a “shock” to maintain homeostasis (check danger model of the immune system from Dr. Polly Matzinger), stimulates natural defenses.

A therapist uses muscular tension and relaxation to consciously send bioelectrical signaling (active potentials) of a higher or lower electromagnetic radiation intensity into the area of the hands. Propagation of the action potentials in the nerves and muscles produces a bio-electromagnetic field that radiates outside of the human body.

All the ‘manipulation’ processes occur automatically which is a completely natural process that is constantly taking place, but most of the time we are not aware of it. Bioenergy therapy is the application of natural energy processes and laws for awakening your own immune defenses, which due to a disharmonious way of life or due to some other factors (genetics, environment, etc.) become weakened or stop functioning entirely.

Learn HERE more.

Bioenergetics is the part of biochemistry concerned with the energy involved in making and breaking of chemical bonds in the molecules found in biological organisms. It can also be defined as the study of energy relationships and energy transformations and transductions in living organisms. The ability to harness energy from a variety of metabolic pathways is a property of all living organisms. Growth, development, anabolism, and catabolism are some of the central processes in the study of biological organisms because the role of energy is fundamental to such biological processes. Life is dependent on energy transformations; living organisms survive because of the exchange of energy between living tissues/ cells and the outside environment.

The essence of the biofield perspective is that a variety of endogenously generated electromagnetic and other fields act within and between multiple levels of biology, from molecular and cellular, through tissues and whole organisms to affect our personal and perhaps even our interpersonal functioning. The human body is a biofield.

Biofield science is an emerging field of study that aims to provide a scientific foundation for understanding the complex homeodynamic regulation of living systems. By furthering our scientific knowledge of the biofield, we arrive at a better understanding of the foundations of biology as well as the phenomena that have been described as “energy medicine.”
Biotherapy is biofield therapy.

Yes, bioenergy/energy therapy is nowadays practiced throughout the world and is called biofield therapy. New approaches in scientific research are slowly revealing the possible mechanism of bioenergy therapy. Many hospitals and medical centers are slowly starting to integrate bioenergy therapy to complement and support conventional medicine.

THERAPY

No, Bioqr™ therapy is complementary and supplementary to all other medical and ‘alternative’ therapies, even though, in many cases, it is much more successful and efficient. After therapy, you should not discontinue the medication or other treatments or medical procedures prescribed by your doctor. Only a biomedical check-up can confirm improvement and make further decisions in conjunction with the patient about continuing or discontinuing conventional medical treatment.

With groups of people, energy potentials multiply and “share” automatically. When in a group, it is easier to observe improvement during the therapy itself. It is also easier to exchange experiences. Group dynamics are an essential part of the subconscious work.

No! A natural energy process cannot be harmful in itself. Biotherapy is a noninvasive treatment without side-effects.

Yes, a diagnosis is necessary from a doctor. We do not diagnose.

No special preparation is needed. It is advisable to come at least 15 minutes before the beginning of therapy. It is desirable to free yourself from as many commitments as possible during the therapy days. Strong reactions during therapy are possible which can interfere with our everyday activities. It can be detrimental to the therapy if we are forced to rush off somewhere, or if we are not totally committed to the therapeutic process. Therapy cannot be beneficial if we are feeling pressured.

Depending on the individual, what is felt ranges from very powerful sensations to no sensation at all. Some people feel a tingling, burning or prickling sensation, coldness, draft, pressure, momentary relief, fatigue or drowsiness, uncontrollable laughter or crying, a floating sensation in the extremities, body movement, dizziness or vertigo. Whether or not a patient feels something during therapy, is not an indication of the success of the therapy, because everybody is unique and therefore they react in unique ways.

No, only a medical specialist can decide about discontinuing the medication. 

After 15 to 30 days, depending on the condition treated, one can expect results that can be objectively measured by means of clinical medicine. Sometimes in the first 15 days after therapy symptoms increase, or a sudden deterioration occurs, which is a crisis that signifies a strong bodily reaction to the intensified activities of a regenerated immune system.

Therapy can be repeated in consultation with a therapist and in accordance with other therapeutic forms that are applied.

Yes, but it is important for the patient to personally commit to the decision to stop drug or alcohol misuse.

All diseases can be treated successfully. With some diseases, the objective success will be complete recovery, while with others, symptoms of the disease will be alleviated, or the result will be greater independence for the patient or arrest the development of the disease, depending on a number of factors that are not directly related to Bioqr™ therapy. We don’t treat medical conditions with psychosis or contagious diseases.

Yes, except schizophrenia and other mental diseases with psychosis. Patients with mental diseases must be accompanied.

With genetic diseases, we can only maintain symptoms with treatments on a monthly or a bi-monthly basis.

Yes, children of any age can be treated.

Yes. If the patient is vulnerable or being cared for by somebody else, then they will need to be accompanied.

Yes, it is possible for educational or research purposes and if you accompany someone else for some objective medical reason.

There is no price enforced for the therapy. At the end of the therapy session, an anonymous donation is made to the therapist.

MISCONCEPTIONS

Bioqr™ therapy is not based around the traditional concepts of the Life Force or Life energy like Qi or Prana. These concepts belong to Vitalism which was dropped in biology almost 100 years ago. Traditional concepts of the Life Force don’t have any scientific evidence to support its existence. Also, modern biophysics, biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, and genetics operate in a realm of the modern understanding of the world which is evidence-based knowledge. Qi, Prana, Pneuma and Life Force are spiritual concepts that are not biological or physical. The etymology of the words Qi, Prana, and Spirit is the same, the breath. 

No, we are based on a very modern approach to bioenergy therapy. Chakras and Auras don’t exist in a biological realm. They are only interesting mental concepts developed as a part of the New Age movement. To put it in a simple way, there is no Chakra and Aura as physical entities. They are just concepts.

Nothing in the classical sense where the healer is considered to be more spiritual than others. Medicine is a science of the mind, body and social well-being. Spirituality is a concept of the world that has many different faces and understandings. Medicine and spirituality are two completely different subjects. In some special cases, spiritual thinking can be beneficial for the patients, for example in hospice, pain management, palliative care, psychological work, etc.

No, this is a misconception that has roots in spiritism and animism. Energy is not bad or good. Energy is benevolent. Sometimes people use the word “energy” to express emotional states which are purely subjective and have nothing to do with term energy in modern physics.

Nothing, it is another misconception where a few psychological phenomena were thought to be the sixth sense. Unfortunately, humans don’t have magneto-receptors and electro-receptors beyond 5 senses which are developed due to our evolutionary needs to protect and survive.

No, anyone can do energy therapy. Healing is not a supernatural ‘special power’ that somebody possesses, but an application of knowledge and skills.