Explain in one short sentence what happens to people who take part in encounter groups, according to the passage.
Because of the unstructured nature of the group, the major problem faced
by the participants is how they are going to use their time together - whether
it be eighteen hours of a week-end or forty or more hours in a one-week group.
Often there is consternation, anxiety, and irritation at first - particularly
because of the lack of structure. Only gradually does it become evident that
the major aim of nearly every member is to find ways of relating to other
members of the group and to himself. Then as they gradually, tentatively, and
fearfully explore their feelings and attitudes towards one another and towards
themselves, it becomes increasingly evident that what they have first presented
are façades, masks. Only cautiously do the real feelings and real
persons emerge. The contrast between the outer shell and the inner person
becomes more and more apparent as the hours go by. Little by little, a sense of
genuine communication builds up, and the person who has been thoroughly walled
off from others comes out with some small segment of his actual feelings.
Usually his attitude has been that his real feelings will be quite unacceptable
to other members of the group. To his astonishment, he finds that he is more
accepted the more real that he becomes. Negative feelings are often especially
feared, since it seems certain to each individual that his angry or jealous
feelings cannot possibly be accepted by another. Thus one of the most common
developments is that a sense of trust slowly begins to build, and also a sense
of warmth and liking for other members of the group. A woman says on Sunday
afternoon, 'If anybody had told me Friday evening that by today I would be
loving every member of this group I would have told him that he belonged in the
nut house.' Participants feel a closeness and intimacy which they have not
felt even with their spouses or members of their own family, because they have
revealed themselves here more deeply and more fully than to those in their own
Thus, in such a group the individual comes to know himself and each of the others more completely than is possible in the usual social or working relationships. He becomes deeply acquainted with the other members and with his own inner self, the self that otherwise tends to be hidden behind his façade. Hence he relates better to others, both in the group and later in the everyday life situation.
(From Encounter Groups by Carl Rogers, 1970, p. 15)
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