Our activities since the October 2015 report have included:
Re-established diversity committee members and recruited new members to the committee. Returning members are: Eric Chen, Maria Riva, Cheri Marmarosh, Joe Miles, Lee Gillis, Jennilee Fuertes, and Jeanne Steffen. New members are Keri Frantell and Carol Cho.
Reviewed goals discussed at APA in August, identified related objectives, and created action items. Current goals are: 1) to recruit new members to our division, with a focus on student and early career psychologists; 2) create a student diversity award; 3) provide opportunities for multicultural competency development through suite programming at APA in Denver; 4) seek nominations and select a Diversity Award recipient for 2016.
Items Needing to be Discussed:
Items Needing Action:
Call for Diversity Award nominations: Jeanne and Lee forwarded nomination requests to be posted to APAEMACNETWORK and Division websites. Nominations are due Feb. 20.
Committee Diversity Award nominations: Maria is working on two nominations from the committee. Due Feb 20.
Suite Programming: Eric and Carol are working on putting together Division 49 suite programming to draw in new student members to our division and address goals related to education/building multicultural competency in our members/APA.
Student Diversity award: Joe and Keri are working on a request to create a student diversity award.
We plan to review diversity award nominations the last week of February. All additional action items will be reviewed by March 15.
Council of Representatives for the American Psychological Association is made up of 178 hard-working people, along with APA staff, tackling tough problems ranging from torture to training. The recent February meeting in Washington DC from February 18-21 had a full agenda including following up on the resolution passed in the August meeting in Toronto to close the loophole allowed by the collusion between Dr. Behnke and the Department of Defense. We voted on a number of important resolutions (for a full report go to the APA website: http://www.apa.org/about/governance/council/index.aspx)
1) Inclusion of ethics, human rights and social justice in revision of strategic plan
2) Revised criteria for recognition of organizations that provide certification in specialties and proficiencies in professional psychology
3) Follow up strategies regarding good governance project
4) Establishment of a work group to develop civility principles and procedures
This last item was likely a result of the lit-up list serve during the last year when ad hominem attacks occurred often. Debate on council floor was civil but occasionally heated as members discussed how best to follow-up on the findings of the Hoffman report. Our diversity training this meeting was on religious tolerance and discrimination with a focus on Islamophobia. Perhaps most interesting of the 3 days of meetings was the Sunday council retreat led by the sociologist/ethnographer Mal O’Connor, who has been attending our meetings for a year at the invitation of our president Susan McDaniel. He is helping us to identify our “culture” in an effort to understand our past e.g., (the collusion with the DOD, which led to allowing psychologists to participate in detainee torture), our present (e.g., how does the minority opinion get heard when the majority is talking all the time), and perhaps our future (e.g., a strong ethical foundation as well as strong education and training, increased patient welfare and public trust).
Thank you for allowing me to serve as the representative for Division 49.
Each year, Division 49 (Group Psychology & Group Psychotherapy) of the American Psychological Association offers an award for the best dissertation research on small groups. This research can investigate any phenomenon, using any methodology, in any type of group. Past winners of the award include Drs. Karen Jehn, Deborah Gruenfeld, Amy Edmondson, and Kyle Lewis. The award comprises cash ($1000), a plaque, and a three-year free membership in the Division.
People who complete a dissertation on groups sometime during calendar year 2015 are welcome to enter the competition. To enter, a brief abstract (5 pages maximum, typewritten and double-spaced) of the dissertation should be sent to Dr. Richard Moreland (408 Fern Hollow Lane, Wexford, PA; 15090; firstname.lastname@example.org). The deadline for submitting abstracts is March 1st, 2016. Dr. Moreland will send copies of the submitted abstracts to a small review committee for evaluation, and that committee will select three finalists. These finalists will be asked to submit complete copies of their dissertations, which will then be reviewed by the same committee. The winner will receive his or her award at the APA Convention in August, 2016.
If you completed a dissertation on groups last year, then please consider entering the competition. Or, if you know someone else who completed such a dissertation, then please mention the competition to him or her. Remember, the dissertation research can explore any phenomenon, using any methodology, in any type of group.
Greetings from the Early Career Psychologist Task Force!
In the past six months, the ECP Task Force hosted two conference calls, one on co-leadership and one on salary negotiation tips. Both call were well attended, especially the one on salary negotiation which featured Dr. King from the University of North Florida Counseling Center. Starting in 2016, the Task Force is moving away from phone conference calls and is planning to use Zoom as the new medium for conference calls. The first presentation in 2016 will be Women in Leadership and is scheduled to take place on April 15 at 12:00 Eastern Time Zone. Stay tuned for registration details!
Another new change for the past year was for the ECP Task Force to host the social hour at the 2015 Annual Convention. Different kinds of wine, a featured cocktail, and Mediterranean food created a welcoming atmosphere for all of the attendees. Be sure to check out the APA 2016 social hour in Denver.
At the mid-winter Board meeting in February, it was decided that formal ECP representation on the board is critical. The board has decided to create an ECP Member-at-Large position that is specifically focused on the needs of early career psychologists. The elected person will be leading the Early Career Task force for three years. Stay tuned for 2016 elections and be sure to cast your vote!
Elaine Clanton Harpine focuses attention throughout her new book, Group-Centered Prevention in Mental Health, on the most important aspect of prevention, namely, “group process.” Unfortunately, to date, prevention efforts have tended to focus solely on various forms of passive reception of information. While we have at least begun to think somewhat developmentally, we have not made as much progress in understanding how important it is to help individuals make a personal investment in processing information. Good intentions are simply not enough, as Harpine points out. Growth and change require more than passive reception of information. If we’re truly committed to making a positive difference in children’s lives, we need to involve them as much as possible in their own cognitive and affective learning. With the kind of substantive help that can come from small group “processing,” all can benefit from good intentions. Harpine draws from her vast experience to show just how this can work effectively in small groups with the right kind of leadership.
Harpine has contributed greatly to our understanding and promotion of prevention group work for years. Her new book is in many ways a dynamic integration of what has worked effectively for her in her small group prevention work with children, adolescents and adults. Harpine knows about group leadership, and particularly about prevention groups. In fact, when it comes to prevention group leadership, she’s among a handful of experienced, enlightened professionals.
One of the strongest contributions Harpine offers in this book is a description of the successful “Reading Orienteering Group” that she has led for years. This unique application of group principles and methods to the development of reading skills is truly a substantive addition to our group-centered prevention work. She’s especially attentive to keeping the reader focused on the importance of both support (process) and challenge (outcome). She’s very open about her commitment to change within the group and within each individual. Her group-centered prevention is not just a feel-good approach. She designs interventions to effect growth and change.
The most outstanding characteristic of the book is its specificity. Harpine keeps the reader focused throughout the book on the specific elements of group-centered prevention work, not just process but product as well. She also stretches the reader to remember the prevention is not just targeted on work with children and adolescents, but with adults and couples as well. She wants and expects prevention group members to change.
There are so many wonderful quotes that I’m tempted to end this review with one, but in a variation of one of most consistent messages offered throughout this book, Harpine offers that group-centered prevention requires action on the part of members (or in this case, readers).
Multicultural Competence: An Outcome or a Process?
My reflections on the question of whether competence, in this case multicultural competence, is an outcome or a process helps ground me and normalizes the struggles that are so apparent within our society. We have only to read the headlines, watch the academy awards or the post-super bowl news coverage, follow the presidential primary debates, or speak candidly with our colleagues to learn that, in particular, racism, sexism, and religism are alive and well, and suppressing the health of our communities. This is frustrating/incensing, scary/dangerous, and sad/downright depressing. It’s also incredibly draining to those who advocate for human rights and can seriously corrode feelings of hope for a society that embraces and celebrates diversity. Although intuitively, we have the sense that competence building is a process, I think it’s often implied that one can achieve some sort of cultural competence within the span of, let’s say, a five year graduate program. Even the word “competence” implies some sort of endpoint. The truth is, however, that competence is indeed a process that develops over a long period of time. Two areas of research that stress the process of competence development is the research on the Integrated Developmental Model of Supervision (IDM) by Cal Stoltenberg and Brian McNeill (2010) and Malcom’s Gladwell’s research review related to building expertise, which he describes in his book, Outliers (2008).
If the research is consulted on the matter, it is apparent that every mental health professional goes through periods of struggle in which they question their competence. As someone who is interested in professional development and finds a meaningful and rewarding calling supervising and scaffolding students in the fields of counseling and psychology, I want to first describe the research pertaining to the IDM. This model includes eight domains of competence. The two domains most pertinent to this article are the domains of Individual Differences and Intervention Skills, particularly because they relate most closely to developing multicultural competency in group psychotherapy. The IDM is organized by three over-riding structures, which identify areas in which individuals tend to struggle and grow. These areas are self-other awareness (which starts low and then gradually increases as one is exposed to a greater number of diversity and group psychotherapy experiences), motivation (which starts high, fluctuates as one realizes the overwhelming amount of information they have yet to learn or experience, and then increases again as one gains a level of expertise), and autonomy (which starts low and then increases as one requires less supervision over time). The process of this struggle is divided into three levels based on professional competence, ingeniously named Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3. Basically, a professional begins their career as a Level 1 practitioner and then, as expertise increases, so too does ones’ level. The highest level that can be achieved according to the model is Level 3i, which indicates a Level 3 therapist who is integrated across all domains.
My misunderstanding of the IDM in the early days, and I find that most of my supervisees also have this misunderstanding, was that one might reach Level 3 development in their third year of practice. Actually, the third year of practice is when one tends to get a whiff, catch a glimpse, or grasp an idea of how much they actually don’t know. It’s a humbling experience that messes with one’s motivation and thus, based on the information supplied by the IDM, solidly places the practitioner at a Level 2. To add complexity to the situation, this placement of practitioner skill is occurring throughout various areas within each domain. For instance, most practitioners remain at Level 1 in the domain of Intervention Skills for group psychotherapy for a good number of years because, since much of the early emphasis in training for this domain is in the realm of individual therapy, they have much less opportunity for practicing group psychotherapy. Regarding the question of how long it takes to reach competence in an area within a domain, for instance facilitating a support group for a particular special population (e.g., undocumented immigrants, international students from Iran, Lesbian parents), we turn to Malcolm Gladwell.
In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explores the question of whether it is true that anyone can succeed. What he found is that one of the primary characteristics of people who achieve success—other than being in the right place at the right time—is a significant amount of hard work and practice. In fact, he argues that there is a formula for expertise that amounts to 10,000 hours of focused practice and he calls this the “10,000 Hour-Rule” based on a study by Anders Ericsson. This means that a Level 3 or competent therapist will have spent around 20 hours a week for 10 years learning and practicing a particular focus area within a particular domain (e.g., a support group for undocumented immigrants, or a support group for Iranian international students, or a support group for Lesbian parents). You get the idea. This information is not meant to be discouraging, rather to normalize the struggles that are apparent in our society and highlight the important work we do to educate ourselves and facilitate the development of cultural competence within ourselves and within our colleagues, supervisees, and clients. I think it also validates that the work we do requires time and that process is important—something all group psychotherapists know. Process is important.
So there you have it. Cultural competence in group psychotherapy is not something one generally achieves, rather developing cultural competence is a domain within many domains and is a long process that spans years and years and 10,000 hours of focused practice. Perhaps rather than feel hopeless that our world is in the state it is in, this information will provide a sense of grounding and patience for those Level 1 individuals out there, because we have all been there, and no one is really an expert in all aspects of cultural diversity. This article seeks to explore the implication that multicultural competence is an outcome and explicitly reframe multicultural competence as a process that continues, with mindful intention, throughout the span of our professional development.
As always, I welcome questions, concerns and ideas for future columns. Please email me at: email@example.com
Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, Inc.
Stoltenberg, C. D. and McNeill, B.W. (2010). IDM Supervision: An integrated developmental model for supervising counselor and therapists, third edition. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Group.
Should Students be Retained or Socially Promoted When They are Failing Academically?
Elaine Clanton Harpine, Ph. D.
School questions seem to dominate our list of concerns once again. Parents, teachers, and school psychologists seem to be seeking answers to the age old question: should students be retained in the same grade for another year when they have failing grades? We actually received several letters asking if retention is psychologically safe. Our question is from a school psychologist who is grappling with this very question.
Editorial Question Posed
Dear Prevention Corner:
I’m a school psychologist assigned the task of deciding whether children should be retained or socially promoted. Teachers make a recommendation based on student grades. After testing, I must recommend which students should be retained or socially promoted. I just read an article that said 78% of dropouts were once retained a grade in school and that 90% of students retained more than once drop out of school. Is this true?
You are not the only one. The question of retention has been argued for over 40 years. Since 1975, research and statistical analysis has shown that neither grade retention (repeating a grade) nor social promotion (simply moving on to the next grade) has been effective as a method for improving academic achievement. Jimerson’s landmark study in 2001 contains one of the best overall discussions. I’ve listed the citation in the reference section. Although grade retention is still widely practiced in schools, retention is actually listed as the single most dominant predictor of whether a student will drop out of school (Thomas, 2013). You did not list the title of the article that you had read, but the statistics match commonly accepted predictions. Retention has a “scarring effect” (Andrew, 2014). Retention is a stigmatizing negative event that infuses with development across the life span—from early elementary school to college and even into adulthood (Andrew, 2014; Jimerson & Kaufman, 2003). So yes, retention is something that we as psychologists should be concerned about. It is not simply an educational problem. Students list retention as one of the most stressful events of their life (Anderson et al, 2005). The stress and stigmatization of retention and failure can even pave the way for other mental health problems and also lead to behavioral problems. Furthermore, research shows that retention is not effective. It does not help students correct their academic problems (Thomas, 2013).
Retention has not worked. Social promotion also does not work. The National Center on Response to Intervention (2010) suggests three strategies that have proven to work with students who are failing: (1) early intervention (do not wait until the child is failing), (2) customizing learning to individual student needs, and (3) focus on reading. They go on to say that the most prominent academic problem leading to failure and retention is reading failure (NCRI, 2010; Lyon, 2002). Jimerson’s research (2003) concurs with the National Center’s three suggestions and also states that improving reading skills should be listed as one of the most important variables needed for academic success.
The Monitor on Psychology this month (March, 2016) reported that reading proficiency scores for public school children have dropped. We should also be alarmed that for the past 25 years, nationwide testing has shown that over half the children and teens across the nation cannot read at grade level by 4th or 8th grade. The Nation’s Report Card for 2015 stated that only 36% of 4th graders and 34% of 8th graders across the nation can read proficiently at grade level. When we tie reading failure to retention and to dropping out of school before graduation, we truly have a serious problem.
As we have stated in this column many times before, reading failure can also lead to depression and other mental health concerns (Herman et al., 2008). Reading failure becomes a psychological problem because of the stigmatization, mental health concerns, and developmental damage caused by such failure across the life span. Reading failure in not just an educational problem; it is a psychological problem as well.
You are very wise to seek alternatives to retention. A six-year-old student was assigned to my reading clinic at the beginning of first grade as an early preventive intervention. He lived in a low socioeconomic neighborhood, single-parent home, and seemed to be having trouble adjusting to school. By the end of his first grade year, the student was reading at the third grade level and demonstrating exemplary behavior– very cooperative, very hard-working. When he returned to school at the beginning of the nest year (He should have been entering 2nd grade.), the parent was informed that the student had been retained in first grade because of his attendance record. The school had a policy of retaining all students who missed more than a certain number of days. Obviously, this was a schoolwide policy and an attempt to reduce truancy. Unfortunately, no one checked to see why the student had been absent. The student had asthma. Even with extensive absences, including at my program, the student was able to finish first grade reading at the third grade level. Math wasn’t a problem either. The student was returned to my reading clinic while repeating first-grade because of behavior problems. In talking with the student, he said, “Need something to do. Only have ‘baby books.’ Little kids think I’m funny when I get in trouble.”
Retention can and does cause psychological “scarring.” So, what is the alternative?
Homework does not help students improve academically (Cooper, 2006). After-school programs have proven to not be effective, especially homework based programs or programs that simply repeat teaching methods used in the classroom (Sheldon et al., 2010; Shernoff, 2010). Merely incorporating social and emotional learning principles is also not effective (Kaufman et al., 2014). Some educators have even gone so far as to say that failure is based on the socio-economic neighborhood in which the child lives (Plucker & Esping, 2014). I disagree.
This fall, from September to December, we had four students move up an entire grade level in reading at my reading clinic. Three of these students were from low socio-economic neighborhoods. Two were African American and one student in the group was Hispanic. This is not a one-time occurrence. Previously, we had six students move up two entire grade levels during nine months in the program. All six students were from low socio-economic neighborhoods: one Caucasian and five African Americans. Two of the students lived in a housing project neighborhood. As G. Reid Lyon said back in 1998, ineffective teaching methods are the primary cause of reading failure. No, I did not say teachers. I said teaching methods—the method that we are using to teach children to read. Whole language and old style phonics rules have both proven not to work (National Reading Panel, 2000).
Are there methods that work? Yes. In 2009, Keller and Just proved that at-risk readers can be taught to read through their neuroimaging studies. Shaywitz (2003) put forth an entire program for teaching dyslexic children. Shaywitz (2003) says that the key to teaching reading to any child is that you must teach the child to break the word down into letters sounds or phonemes. Then, teach the child to put the sounds back together as a word. I teach a similar method called vowel clustering (Clanton Harpine, 2011; 2013).
So yes, methods are available that have been proven to work. Why do we not use them in the schools? That is an excellent question. I’ll leave that question for another time. For now, I hope that you will refer to some of the references that I have listed for you. I hope that some of the programs can help you to look beyond retention and social promotion. Look to the source of the problem—reading failure.
If you would like to join this discussion, let us hear from you. We welcome your participation. We invite psychologists, counselors, prevention programmers, graduate students, teachers, administrators, parents, and other mental health practitioners working with groups to network together, share ideas, problems, and become more involved. Please send comments, questions, and group prevention concerns to Elaine Clanton Harpine at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anderson, G. E., Jimerson, S. R., & Whipple, A. D. (2005). ‘Students’ ratings of stressful experiences at home and school: Loss of a parent and grade retention as superlative stressors, Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 1-20.
Andrew, M. (2014). The scarring effects of primary-grade retention? A study of cumulative advantage in the educational career. Social Forces, 93, 653-685. doi: 10.1093/sf/sou074
Clanton Harpine, E. (2011). Group-Centered Prevention Programs for At-Risk Students. New York: Springer.
Clanton Harpine, E. (2013). After-school prevention programs for at-risk students: Promoting engagement and academic success. New York: Springer.
Herman, K. C., Lambert, S. F., Reinke, W. M., & Ialongo, N. S. (2008). Low academic competence in first grade as a risk factor for depressive cognitions and symptoms in middle school. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55, 400-410.
Jimerson, S. R. (2001). Meta-analysis of grade retention research: Implications for practice in the 21st century. School Psychology Review, 30, 420-437.
Jimerson, S. R., & Kaufman, A. M. (2003). Reading, writing, and retention: A primer on grade retention research. Reading Teacher 56, 622-635.
Keller, T., A., & Just, M. A. (2009). Altering cortical connectivity: Remediation-induced changes in the white matter of poor readers. Neuron 64, 624-631.
Lyon, G. R. (April 28, 1998). Overview of reading and literacy initiatives. Testimony before the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, Senate Dirkson Building. Retrieved November 27, 2006, from http://www.cdl.org/resourcelibrary/pdf/lyon_testimonies.pdf
Lyon, G. R. (2002). Reading development, reading difficulties, and reading instruction educational and public health issues. Journal of School Psychology, 40, 3-6.
National Center on Response to Intervention. (March 2010). Essential components of RTI: A closer look at response to intervention. Washington, DC: US Department of Education, office of Special Education Programs
National Reading Panel, (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4754). Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.
Plucker, J., & Esping, A. (2014). Intelligence 101. New York: Springer.
Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming Dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level. New York: Knopf.
Thomas, A. (Ed.) (2013). Retention is not the answer! Metairie, LA: Center for Development and Learning.