These groupings are leaderless, and vary in size and composition. Participants may differ in age, gender, length of membership and geographic location.
With enthusiasm, our elders recall the burgeoning of these early groups, describing them as providing a culture and community of intellectual excitement and experimentation. First initiated by Paul Frisch, Academy members began to demonstrate their work in process groups with each other, providing opportunities for intense personal and professional growth. Initially these groups met over the course of one meeting, but eventually the same members began to reconvene over several meetings to deepen the work that could be accomplished. In time, these ongoing meetings resulted in the development of the long-term peer groups that exist today.
The differences among the groups are many. These include origin, size, ages of members, longevity of contact, and frequency of meeting. For example, some groups have existed for 40 years while others have joined together more recently as newcomers.
The journey to find one’s place in a group is as important to personal growth as is the destination. This search is often complex and can involve attachment style, temperament and character structure. Some groups are open and some groups are closed. The sheer number of members, the depth of personal work and life cycle events within a group frequently determine the group’s availability for new members. It is a common myth that the only way to participate in this process is through invitation to an existing group.
Given that the peer process/family group is highly valued and while access can be complicated, it is crucial that new groups continue to develop. For example, these new groups could be formed from newcomers joining together, from continuing an open process group or from the blending of two previous groups. It is possible to begin a group with only two members.
Regardless of inception, the inherent value of these ongoing groups cannot be overestimated.
Through the provision of a safe container, members can engage in corrective emotional experiences, leading to their personal growth and professional development.
Written by Membership and Retention Chairs: Nelia H Rivers and Barbara Thomason
September 9, 2017