Internet (and Virtual) Communication
Institute of Rhetoric and Communication
Abstract: The article presents the results of a study based on autoethnographic research, in which the author participated during a university course in Group Therapy. Due to the extraordinary circumstances imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the training is conducted entirely in a virtual environment. The experiment is an exploration of experiencing group dynamics and therapy in a virtual environment. The focus of the research is the communication features and dynamics during this process and to what extent they differ from group work in a physical environment. The author’s personal experience is conveyed through the first-person narrative: a basic approach in autoethnography in which self-reflection is used to report included observation. Self-reflection as part of the autoethnographic study provides answers to the questions: Is a virtual environment a suitable communication environment for group therapy? What are the psychological dynamics of the group in a virtual environment? Important characteristics and qualities of the group facilitator leading such a group are presented. The hypothesis that the virtual environment is a suitable medium for group therapy and development of psychological dynamics and process is confirmed. Limitations, conclusions, and recommendations for future research are presented at the end of the study.
Keywords: virtual psychotherapy, group work in virtual environment, autoethnography, group dynamics.
Rhetoric and Communications Journal, issue 47, April 2021