Brief Articles

Group Specialty Council: Promoting Group Psychology and Psychotherapy

Promoting Group Psychology and Psychotherapy

Nina Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, FAGPA
Nina Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, FAGPA
Eleanor F. Counselman, Ed.D., ABPP, CGP, LFAGPA
Eleanor F. Counselman, Ed.D., ABPP, CGP, LFAGPA

The Group Specialty Council, with members from Division 49, the American Board of Group Psychology (ABGP), the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists, and the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) is hard at work preparing a new petition to have group psychology and psychotherapy approved as an APA specialty.

As part of the petition we must show four model programs that demonstrate group specialty training. Finding such programs has been a challenge and has awakened us to the need to have group psychotherapy training better publicized.  Group training programs are not well publicized or visible so that prospective students, the general public, and regulating bodies such as CRSPPP, can easily determine that such training programs are available in a doctoral program, or an internship, or a post-doctoral residency.

There are over 200 APA accredited doctoral and internship programs in the United States, all of which are supposed to have education and training program information on their websites, but our review of these websites did not reveal any group psychology and group psychotherapy training programs.  The absence of visible programs is a major hindrance for the current petition to gain recognition for group as a specialty in training programs.

It is important and essential that members of The Society who are faculty at university APA accredited doctoral and internship programs in clinical, counseling and school psychology work to get their group education and training programs more visible on the website and other public materials, and to get their programs to formally designate group as an emphasis, or track or concentration and to publicize this. Sometimes this is just a matter of updating an existing website. Or it might mean creating a link to new material.

We are confident that there are numerous educational and training opportunities in group psychology and group psychotherapy.  Josh Gross, the director of the Florida State University’ College Counseling Center surveyed  College Counseling Training Directors, 42 responded  and found ten that had possible group training opportunities and requirements that could be designated as a program, or an emphasis, or a track, or a concentration but had not been designated so or recognized as such in their public materials.

We need your assistance in bringing more visibility to the group psychology and group psychotherapy doctoral and internship training programs, emphases, concentrations, or tracks. We believe there will be increased demand for group therapy in the future, as it is an evidenced-based treatment for many disorders  (see the AGPA Practice Resources website) that is efficient and cost effective. However, psychologists who do not have adequate group therapy training are being asked to lead groups, and this is not good for the profession, much less the patients. Specialty status and promotion of training opportunities will help support group therapy and the training sites that offer it.