T-group is a group which sets out to study itself and its process
as it happens. The "T" stands for "training",
and the groups are involved in training in human relations skills,
whereby individuals are taught to observe the nature of their interactions
with others and of the group process.
it is felt, enables participants better to understand their own way
of functioning in a group and "the impact they have on others,
which would enable them to become more competent in dealing with difficult
T-group, in its origins, developed out of the ideas of Kurt Lewin,
but became a practical force only after his death in 1947, when it
grew out of conferences on small-group dynamics held at the National
Training Laboratories Institute in Bethel, Maine. The goal was
to offer people options for their behaviour in groups and it proved
a great training innovation upon which much of what we now know about
team building has been based
new method that was developed helped leaders and managers create a
more humanistic, people-serving system, and permitted them to see
how their behaviour affected others. It developed a deep concern
for people and a desire to create systems that took people's needs
and feelings seriously.
way in which the T-Group evolved between Lewin's input in 1946 and
his death in 1947 bears repetition as an interesting example of serendipity.
Ronald Lippett, who had collaborated with Lewin, described
a training experience in 1946 as follows: "Some time during
the evening an observer made some remarks about the behaviour of one
of the three persons who was sitting in - a woman trainee. She
broke in to disagree with the observation and described it from her
point of view. For a while there was an active dialogue between
the researcher, the research observer, the trainer and the trainee
about the interpretation of the event, with Kurt an active prober,
obviously enjoying this different source of data that had to be coped
with an integrated.
At the end of the evening, the trainee asked if they could come back
for the next meeting at which their behaviour would be evaluated.
Kurt felt this was a valuable contribution rather than an intrusion,
and enthusiastically agreed to their return. The next night
at least half of the 50 or 60 participants were there as a result
of the grapevine reporting of the activity by the three delegates."The
evening sessions from then on became the significant learning experience
of the day, with the focus on actual behavioural events, and with
active dialogue about differences of interpretation and observation
by those who had participated in them."
do T-groups work?
T-group is primarily process rather than content oriented. Focus
will be on feelings and the communication of feelings rather than
the communication of information, opinions, or concepts. This
is accomplished by focusing on present time and specific behaviour
of participants with non-evaluative feedback and comment on the impact
of behaviour on others. Each participant has the opportunity
to become a more authentic self in relation to others through self-disclosure
and feedback. The Johari
Window is a model that looks at that process.
training is marked by a lack of structure and limited involvement
of the trainers; this provides space for the participants to decide
what they want to talk about. The beginning of a T-group session
usually has a certain predictability as participants search for structure,
safety and direction. By failing to provide responses to these
needs, the T-group ultimately begins to notice what is lurking beneath
the surface of their interaction. This is habitually the case
in any group, the difference in the T-group being that the participants
begin to experience anxiety about authority and power, about being
included and accepted in the group, and about intimacy.
individual participants begin to experience some degree of trust in
themselves, in the group, and in the trainer, several developments
typically take place:
Participants may find that their feelings and judgements about the
behaviour of others is not generally shared; that what they found
supportive or threatening was not experienced by others.
A participant experiencing this may now begin to try a new behaviour,
such as being quiet and still where previously a need was felt
to fill silence with sound.
Participants begin to ask for feedback from the group and how their
behaviour is impacting on others.
Participants may experience a much lower level of anxiety than they
had anticipated; they may exhibit a more secure form of behaviour,
in effect contributing leadership and helping the group to develop.
role of the trainers
To help the group and individuals analyse and learn from what is happening.
To offer theory, a model, or research that may be related to what
the group is experiencing.
To encourage group behaviour that serves the learning process, such
as focusing on the here-and-now rather than the then-and-there.
To offer feedback on skills, but to withhold feedback on structure
or agenda, remaining silent while the group experiences its anxiety
about acceptance, influence, etc.
To be completely open with the group; to be willing to reveal themselves;
to be prepared to challenge a participant.
To avoid become too directive, clinical, or personally involved with
benefits of T-group learning
T-group is intended to provide an opportunity for:
Understanding group development and dynamics.
Understanding the underlying social processes at work within a group.
Gaining skills in facilitating group effectiveness.
Increasing interpersonal skills.
Experimenting with behavioural change.
Increasing awareness of and taking responsibility for one's personal
Increasing sensitivity to the feelings of others.
Increasing ability to give and receive feedback.
Learning from one's own and the group's experience.
Improving one's ability to manage and utilise conflict.