The Promise of Group Therapy

THIS THREE-PART SERIES presents scenes from a spontaneous, unscripted group that met for ten sessions with individuals willing to reveal themselves before a live camera. We (Vivian Nelson and Bill Roller) led the group together. We are experienced group psychotherapists in private practice in Berkeley, California, and are the founders of the Berkeley Group Therapy Education Foundation, the producer of the video series. 

The six-hour series introduces a unique way to conceptualize small group process. As the group evolves, the videos demonstrate the phases of group therapy development and emergent leadership roles articulated by Ariadne P. Beck, founder of the Chicago Group Development Research Team and preeminent researcher in the field of group dynamics. 

Throughout the series, we provide concise (and, we hope, incisive) commentary on the group, so that the viewer learns how object relations can be applied to the group therapy setting. The work of other systems theorists is also introduced, providing a practical method to contain conflict and intense affect by the skillful use of subgroups. 

We try throughout to point out the mistakes that group therapists commonly make and the ways those mistakes can be employed in the service of the patients' progress. We also endeavor to show the ways a mature co-therapy team can advance the group's movement through the various phases of development. 

Such basic concepts as projective identification, dissociation, part-object transference, and countertransference are clearly illustrated. In our commentary we try to elaborate the meaning of the group structure and demonstrate how it maybe used to facilitate the growth of each member. 

This video series was created to assist practicing clinicians, professors in the field, and their students. We have designed these notes as a supplement to Out on-screen commentary. Some of the information we provide here has been taken from the literary companion to the video series, The Promise of Group Therapy, published by Jossey Bass of San Francisco and © Bill Roller, 1997. 


I am currently teaching psychotherapy to the residents at Stanford and I have found these training videos to be truly excellent. I was impressed on several levels. One is that you chose to videotape a real group. Your group was amazing because of its fast paced development. The level of work that was accomplished was quite astonishing which I know owes a good deal to you and the co-therapist’s skilled leadership. Once I started watching the tapes, I couldn’t stop. It was very much like getting engrossed in a great novel.
— Catherine Classen, Ph.D. Department of Psychiatry, Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford, CA

This is a splendid set of training tapes and one of the best of its kind. Every university and clinic providing training in group psychotherapy should have a set of these tapes on hand for viewing and reviewing.
— Virginia Brabender, Ph.D., Video Review Editor, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy


Disc 1 of 3, The Beginning Phases $195

Disc 2 of 3, The Middle Phases $195

Disc 3 of 3, The Ending Phases $195

The Promise of Group Therapy Set (all three DVDs) $395

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