Like many people, your resolutions for healthy eating probably vanish as quickly as that warm slice of apple pie a la mode. You eat unhealthy food--or even just overeat good food--without giving it a second thought. Then you're left feeling bloated, guilty, and more stressed than before. This is called unconscious eating. Unlike the situation in individual therapy, the benefited group presented more statements of problems at the end of the series than at the beginning, and more negative attitudes toward self in the second half of therapy than in the first, with a peak being reached shortly after the midpoint of the series. The nonbenefited group showed much flatter curves in all these respects. One of the most evident differences was that the non-benefited group engaged in more interactional and prodding statements than did the benefited group. It seems reasonable to say that more of their attention was focused upon the other persons and less upon themselves and their own feelings. They were more likely to use such statements as What did you do then? The members of the benefited group, three months after the conclusion of therapy, reported that they had taken positive actions as a result of the experience, and that they had found that significant changes in attitude and behavior had carried over into fields which had never been a topic of discussion in the group. The nonbenefited individuals indicated that they had experienced few of these outcomes. Such studies mark only a small beginning in the understanding of the process of group therapy. Many questions remain unanswered. Will the uniformity of pattern suggested by these two studies be evident in the development of groups composed of strikingly different kinds of people? If we have to diet . This continual vigilance, the constant shaming, the overbearing systemic violence isolates us, keeps us self-interested (not out of a desire to optimize but rather out of desire to survive) and keeps us from forming relationships, groups, and even movements to exert our power. All the while it contributes to a physical stress response that increases our risk for disease, addiction, other self-harm, and even early death. It erects barriers and complications that steal our creativity and drain us of energy for full participation in life. When you are not allowed to belong in your own body, that is violence. It is oppression and a function of oppression.

Body liberation is about taking our bodies back and making ourselves at home in our own skin. THE SECOND PLACE WE'RE NOT ALLOWED TO BELONG IS EVERYWHERE First, we're not allowed to be ourselves or belong in our bodies. Then, we're not allowed to take those bodies out into the world. Humans are creatures of habit. By definition, habits are unconscious: we do them without thinking. This can be a double-edged sword. If the habit is good--that is, if the behavior is good for us and gets us closer to our goals, like putting a big bottle of water on your desk to sip from throughout the day--it saves us mental energy that we can apply to everything else we have going on. On the flip side, a bad habit can take us away from our goals, like when you munch your way through a large bag of chips while watching television at night. When a habit is unconscious, it doesn't appear on your radar for closer scrutiny. We need to become conscious of habits before we can change them. To go from mindless to mindful eating, you first need to discover what kind of unconscious eater you are. There are two kinds of unconscious eating: emotional eating and multitask eating. Which of these rings most true for you? What would be the pattern if groups were continued until each person felt that he could gain no more from the experience? What about content and import of statements? No study has yet been made of the kinds of things people talk about in group therapy. An analysis of the content of protocols would surely yield rich information about the problems of adult life. Is it possible to select people who are most likely to gain from a group therapy experience? How much does the therapist contribute to the effectiveness of a group?

Some of these questions can be touched upon, but others will have to await clarification through further research. THE GROUP THERAPIST Experience in individual client-centered therapy seems to be the best preparation for doing group-centered therapy. The differences between the two practices are largely on the level of technique, and one returns again to a realization of the significance of the therapist's attitudes. Consider for a moment a breastfeeding parent who feeds their baby every couple of hours, for as much as forty hours per week. If they're not welcome to breastfeed in public, that means they must avoid public spaces for the equivalent of a full workweek, every week. They're going to have to dart in and out, plan and carefully time essential activities, and reduce the amount of time they spend outside their home. Or consider a person who uses a wheelchair. I'm shocked to see how frequently my friends with disabilities are unable to participate in activities I take for granted. The many restaurants, movie theaters, houses of worship, and retail stores they can't access. The extra time they need to budget for difficulties with public transportation (Elevator breakdowns! Short boarding windows! Inadequate space! Not to mention their safety concerns; Emotional Eating: I rely on food to lift my mood when I'm feeling sad, anxious, frustrated, angry, guilty, stressed, or bored. Multitask Eating: I eat meals or snacks while in front of the television, reading, driving, talking on the phone, or in bed. If the answer isn't immediately apparent, you can track your eating habits over the past few days. Take note: Did you binge? Did you eat too much or eat when you weren't really hungry? What were you doing or feeling when that happened?

Why We Overeat Deep in our human past, our ancestors needed to go out and hunt for food. It was a difficult, perilous task that involved bringing down large prey, risking attack from other tribes, and dealing with rough terrain and unkind weather. These early humans needed a drive strong enough to force them out of their safe, warm caves. In both situations, the feelings that the therapist has toward people, the confidence he has in their ability to be responsible for themselves, the readiness with which he limits any tendency to intervene on the assumption that his view of the situation is superior, the consistency with which he translates a philosophy into action -- these are fundamental to effective work either with individuals or with groups. However, the group situation does make some new demands on the therapist. He now must respond sensitively to six people instead of to one; The most challenging new element in the group situation is the possibility of releasing the therapeutic potential of the group itself. Group therapy, and not individual therapy in a group, is the goal. If the therapist is skillful, the group itself becomes a therapeutic agent and gathers momentum of its own, with therapeutic consequences clearly greater than would result from the efforts of the therapist alone. For one thing, members themselves take on the role of therapists, a development of such significance for the total process that it will be discussed in a subsequent section of this article. But let us examine here, using research findings and illustrations from verbatim protocols, some of the distinctive features of the therapist's job as he works with a group. The therapist attempts to understand what it is that a group member is saying and feeling, to communicate this understanding to the group, and to make it easier and safer for the individual to push ahead in his explorations of himself. Telschow (211) has shown, in a systematic and extensive analysis of protocols, that the most productive statements of the therapist are those involving simple acceptance of what is said, restatement of content, and clarification of feeling. The conventionally accepted medical model of disability focuses on the limitations of the disabled body itself, rather than on the structural barriers, negative attitudes, and societal exclusions these bodies face. That my friend couldn't enter my house because we couldn't get his wheelchair up the stairs is a problem that can be solved. His body was never the problem; Accompanying him as he uses accommodations like ramps and elevators heightens my sense of our crisis of belonging. As we enter an elevator for the local train, our conversation drops because we need to stop breathing in order to avoid inhaling the stench of urine. I think about the desperation of whoever used the elevator as a bathroom, what might have driven them to use the elevator.

By the time we reach street level, I'm acutely aware how each of us--me, my friend who is disabled, that unseen person who peed--has been dehumanized not because of who we are, but because society won't support our basic needs. People don't urinate or defecate on city streets because they want to; Consider too, the ways fat people are excluded from full participation in the world. One example is the downsizing of plane bathrooms. Enter hunger. But even food-seekers driven by hunger weren't always successful, and they couldn't count on three squares a day. The meat, wild fruits, and vegetables they did find couldn't easily be stored for later, so they learned to consume everything, right then and there. You see where this is going, don't you? We are heirs to the instincts of those hungry early plate-cleaners. The problem is that, today, food is constantly available, and our relatively sedentary lifestyle requires us to eat less of it to store for fuel. Unfortunately, our instincts haven't evolved with our lifestyles, so we overeat. The good news: Our brains can change. Our caveman programming, though deep, is no match for our powerful minds if and when we consciously choose to change. With the right psychological tools, like the ones you are learning today, you can rewire your caveman brain and gain control. Statements of such nature are accompanied by greater and more penetrating exploration on the part of the group member. They tend to reduce the threat in the situation and are releasing of the group member who is attempting to see himself more clearly. Evidence indicates that, although the gross amount of therapist interaction with members is highly related to the amount of member activity, the members who gain most from the experience are those to whom the therapist responds with non-directive statements. Research has not yet demonstrated the point, but it seems likely that such statements also give assurance to a member who has not participated that he can join in without fear of hurt to himself. In the sessions reported on articles 280-285, one can get a feeling for what the therapist does in this respect. But pacing and timing are important.