Large Group Awareness Training

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Large Group Awareness Training or LGAT is a mechanism for promoting awareness change and rapid, thorough commitment to a cause or idea. LGATs tend to be brief but intense sessions of a few hours or days in which, ideally, participants adopt the message of the 'training' promptly and enthusiastically.

Some see the classic LGAT as utilizing peer pressure and group dynamics in a high-pressure sales environment that promotes uncritical psychobabbling togetherness and thus markets nebulous memes, and as fostering a propensity to recruit new participants into a participation-oriented pyramid scheme under the guise of providing useful training.

Others see LGAT as a group mind methodology that can be used to accelerate training in specific skills. Improvisational comedy is an example of a skill that is, typically, taught via group-awareness training.

Historically, LGAT origins trace back, at least in part, to the encounter group movement of the 1960s.

The term was popularised by controversial anti-cult activist Margaret Singer, who describes her interpretation of the methodology of a fictional "generic" LGAT in her book 'Cults in our Midst'.

The supporters of all the groups listed below generally dispute the validity of the classification for several reasons:

  • They resent being grouped together with some or all of the other movements, and feel that this fails to do justice to the differences in structure, methodology and philosophy that differentiate them.
  • They dispute that the description in Singer's book accurately describes their own procedures (even if it may or may not reflect the practices of some of the other organisations).
  • They reject the (implied or explicit) suggestion that by being so described, they are being accused of being a cult, or in some unspecified way "cult-like".

Alleged LGATs include:

  • Context Associates
  • est/Landmark Education
  • Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)
  • Exegesis
  • Garden Company
  • Insight
  • iImpact
  • Lifespring
  • ManKind Project
  • Momentus
  • Training Phoenix 2000
  • PSI World
  • Silva Method
  • Sterling Institute of Relationships
  • Whole Mind Learning (WML)
  • Life Training / Kairos Foundation

References

  • Fisher, J.D. et al. (1990). Evaluating a Large Group Awareness Training: A Longitudinal Study of Psychosocial Effects. Springer-Verlag.

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