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Expanding our Scope — Reactions to the 2018 Practice Leadership Conference (PLC)

Sean Woodland, Ph.D.
Sean Woodland, Ph.D.

This March I was a first-time attendee at the Practice Leadership Conference (PLC). It was a fantastic opportunity to connect with other psychologists interested in advancing the practice of psychology.  The PLC is full of forward-thinkers who have an eye toward advocacy, with an aim to equip all psychologists with the tools and the courage to advocate for themselves and the profession at large.

As a psychologist employed in a primary care setting, I naturally gravitated toward the talks and workshops related to the practice of health psychology. With that said, I also went in with my group and systems hat on, and believe that the following summary is relevant to all members of our division.

Advancing Practice Together 

The theme of this year’s PLC was “Advancing Practice Together.” This has been a major focus of Dr. Arthur Evans since he became the CEO of APA, urging us as members to think more broadly about our value as psychologists, and to continually assert this value as the practice landscape continues to evolve in turn.  In an introductory workshop Dr. Evans stated that we can no longer define ourselves as only psychotherapists if we desire to advance the discipline.  Rather, we must clearly define the unique contributions that practicing psychologists make to healthcare, and to focus on the skills we can bring to many different settings.

Dr. Evans listed three areas unique to psychologists which we can better leverage: 1) training as scientist practitioners, 2) conceptualizations of problems, and 3) the ability to develop expertise in a wide range of specialty areas.  Dr. Evans contends that making these areas more visible to other professionals in the settings in which we now and will yet work will prepare us to adapt well to current and future healthcare trends. Psychologists in the future will find themselves increasingly accountable for the results produced by interventions, and will be called upon in innovative ways to serve the private and public sector alike. Will we be ready to step in?

Improving the Leadership Group 

Another theme that permeated the Practice Leadership Conference, as the name suggests, was leadership, be it in our practice settings, our state associations or divisions, and in our communities.  The mood of the conference was one toward psychologists taking the lead in forsaking isolationism in these settings, broadening and deepening collaboration with a range of organizations and professionals outside the discipline.  For example, APA currently has worked with the American Diabetes Association to create a clinician education program with the effort of training psychologists to help diabetes in behavior change.  It was noted that the rate of depression in individuals with diabetes is twice that of the normal population.

The PLC also encouraged better leadership of our various boards.  One speaker, Eloiza Altoro, spoke extensively on this topic.  Ms. Altoro is an organizational consultant with a clinical psychology background.  She emphasized that high-functioning boards find the “sweet spot” where personal purpose, organizational purpose, and role purpose converge.  Successful boards are team-oriented and transparent, and are as flexible as they are formal.  On the other hand, relationships in boards (and of course, groups!) break down when there is a lack of trust, misinformation, and lack of strategic direction.  Another symptom of poorly-functioning boards is constant turnover.

The attendees at PLC were also encouraged to become leaders in their communities.  This was communicated most clearly by Dr. Jessica Henderson Daniel, new president of APA.  A main pillar of her presidential term is the “citizen psychologist” initiative, which aims to encourage psychologists to be more active in community settings, and to recognize psychologists who are already highly involved at home.  She publicly recognized two such psychologists during a town hall meeting, and reports excitement to honor more.

Advocacy and Activism 

The final theme at the PLC was advocacy.  This was culminated the final day of the conference with visits to Capitol Hill.  Tagging along with the delegation from my home state of California, I had the opportunity to go to the offices of three different California representatives to advocate for causes important to the practice of psychology. This included asking for co-sponsorship of the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, advocating for maintenance and expansion of Medicaid, and advocating for understanding of gun violence as a multifaceted phenomenon.

While it was indeed exciting to participate in his political process, perhaps the most moving piece of advocacy came during the above-mentioned town hall meeting.  The first speakers to get up were the delegates from APAGS, APA’s graduate student group.  They called for greater diversity and inclusion, and were quite courageous in communicating the ways in which they felt that they had been marginalized throughout the proceedings.

In Closing

As leaders in group psychology and group psychotherapy, I believe it is incumbent upon the division to continue to have a voice and a presence at this conference.  Perhaps it could take the form of leading an intergroup dialogue, or a workshop to help psychologists gain a better understanding of group leadership.  Or, in the spirit of advocacy, having a voice to communicate to leaders in the field the importance of understanding the complexities of group treatment in an ever-changing healthcare system. Furthermore, advocating for furthering research in group psychology and group psychotherapy also has a place at the proceedings, as there’s a definite focus on enhancing the productivity, collaboration, and overall success of the professional groups in which we regularly are found.  In short, the PLC needs experts in group!  And notwithstanding this need for more group expertise, the PLC is also a great conference for anyone generally interested in leadership, advocacy, or in advancing the practice of psychology.

For questions or more information on the PLC, please contact Sean Woodland, PhD at seanc.woodland@gmail.com.

 

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Columns

The Role of Technology (Texting) in Prevention Efforts

Shana Ingram, BA
Shana Ingram, BA

Based on recent statistics from Pew Research Center (2018b), in 2002, 62% of adults in the United States owned a cellphone, and, in 2011, 35% owned a smartphone. Currently, 95% of adults in the US own a cellphone and 77% own a smartphone. This substantial increase in mobile technology ownership demonstrates the growing presence of technology in our lives. In addition to more people owning cellphones and smartphones, people are increasing the amount of times they access the internet each day. Recent polls found that, in 2018, 26% of adults report being online frequently every day, while in 2015, 21% reported frequent daily usage (Pew Research Center, 2018a). Although younger adults are commonly thought of as the age group seeking out the most screen time, adults aged 30 to 49 increased their frequent daily internet usage from 24% to 36% from 2015 to 2018, and adults aged 50 to 64 increased their frequent daily internet usage from 12% to 17% during this same time (Pew Research Center, 2018a).

Although this growing dependence on technology has been associated with harmful effects such as cyberbullying (Siegle, 2010), the positive benefits that can be gained from increased accessibility to information and resources should not be overlooked. For example, some programs rely solely on technology or minimal support to administer therapy while some clinicians and therapists utilize technology to assist them in their therapeutic practice. For those that use programs to replace the therapist, results from one study have shown that patients who experienced the interactive technology program improved more across stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms as well as in daily functioning than participants who received only information (Proudfoot et al., 2013). For those who use technology in conjunction with conventional therapeutic practices, results from one study found that combining technology with family therapy led to greater decreases in depression symptoms than family therapy alone, however results did vary by ethnicity and participant gender (Eisendorf et al., 2003). In addition to these benefits, the addition of texting features to hotline numbers provides a great prevention resource for individuals, especially for those who are unable to reach out for assistance through a phone call. Although there are many reasons why someone may not be able to seek assistance through a phone call, one article noted that text hotlines are essential for people with hearing impairments and for those who do not feel safe discussing personal information when it could be overheard (Park, 2016). Since hotlines provide vital information and support for a wide range of issues (e.g., depression, trauma, suicidal ideation, domestic violence), and since these issues, especially when left untreated, are linked to suicidal ideation and attempts Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017 (CDC), using technology to increase the availability of resources is essential.

Below are some important numbers to know that provide support via text messaging.

Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving. All of Crisis Text Line’s Crisis Counselors are volunteers, donating their time to helping people in crisis.

Please share these so that others are aware of the resources available to assist them.

Crisis Text Line
741741 (HELLO)

HopeLine
919-231-4525 (call or text)
1-877-235-4525 (call or text)

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Preventing suicide. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/features/preventingsuicide/index.html

Eisendorf, C., Czaja, S. J., Loewenstein, D. A., Rubert, M. P., Arguelles, S., Mitrani, V. B., & Szapocznik, J. (2003). The effect of a family therapy and technology-based intervention on caregiver depression. The Gerontologist, 43(4), 521-531.

Park, M. (2016). Crisis text line takes suicide prevention into the age of texting. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/06/24/crisis-text-line-takes-suicide-prevention-into-age-texting/83766122/

Pew Research Center. (2018a). About a quarter of U.S. adults say that they are ‘almost constantly’ online. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/14/about-a-quarter-of-americans-report-going-online-almost-constantly/

Pew Research Center. (2018b). Mobile fact sheet. Retrieved from https://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/

Proudfoot, J., Clarke, J., Birch, M., Whitton, A. E., Parker, G., Manicavasagar, V., Harrison, V., Christensen, H., & Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. (2013). Impact of a mobile phone and web program on symptom and functional outcomes for people with mild-to-moderate depression, anxiety and stress: A randomized controlled trial. BMC Psychiatry, 13, 1-12.

Siegle, D. (2010). Cyberbullying and sexting: Technology abuses of the 21st century. Gifted Child Today, 33(2), 14-65.

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Columns Early Career Psychologists

Becoming a Better Psychologist

Misha Bogomaz, Psy.D., C.G.P.
Misha Bogomaz, Psy.D., C.G.P.

“Misha, you will never be as knowledgeable as on the day you take your licensure exam” said my supervisor. We were talking about my plans to take EPPP and the amount of material I needed to know. I remember feeling overwhelmed by the study guides, notecards, reading, and memorization. There was so much information that I was expected to know! When it came to the test sections that did not relate to my work as a psychologist, I felt particularly frustrated. I know EPPP tests for general skills… but come on! Three days prior to the test, I lived and breathed the study guides. Woke up at 6:00 am for the exam at 12:00 and memorized until the last minute. I came out of the testing center barely containing my tears. My friends took me to a restaurant, bought me food and drinks, and took me to see a movie. I was convinced that I failed the test (at that time we did not get the results immediately) and continued to study for two weeks. The day I received my result, which was passing, I threw away almost everything that related to the test. It felt like I jumped over the last hoop on the road of becoming a licensed psychologist.

I first heard of Board Certified Psychologists while in graduate school. There was a faculty member that we all spoke of reverently because he was Board Certified in psychoanalytic approach. During my internship, the group coordinator was Board Certified. I utilized the Early Entry application process before finishing up my graduate degree. What drove me to do it? I wanted to be one of those people who I saw as an “expert”. I wanted to have ABPP after my name. I wanted to be one of the 4% who went above and beyond! But, when all of the prerequisites were done… the doubt crept in. I am “only” an early career psychologist. What can I possibly know? Surely not enough to be Board Certified. However, with the encouragement of my mentor and my own drive, I kept at it. My passion is anything group psychology related, so it made sense getting Board Certified as a Group Psychologist. I recorded a group session, wrote a practice sample and a professional statement. The date of my examination was set. For months, I kept reading books and articles trying to anticipate the questions. I felt most anxious about the Oral part of the exam: being assessed by three experts felt way more intimidating than answering “multiple guess” questions on EPPP. Once again, I woke up at 6:00 am the day of my exam and frantically reviewed my notes.

What a difference it was walking out of ABPP exam versus EPPP! First of all, I did not feel like crying. I felt examined, for sure, very thoroughly. The questions directed at me were meant to provoke my thinking and challenge me. I was asked to critically examine the way I prepare, think about, facilitate, train, and terminate groups. Most of it, felt like a deep conversation about group psychology. It was very collegial and the examiners were invested in not only examining me, but also making me a better group psychologist. More than the comprehensive exams in school, graduation, passing EPPP, getting a license… walking out of the exam felt like a true rite of passage. Studying for EPPP made me be the most knowledgeable on the day of the exam. Studying for ABPP exam made me a better psychologist … on any day.

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Columns

Insights on Training & Education

Insights on Training & Education
By: Michele Ribeiro, Ed.D., C.G.P.,
Member-at-Large for Training and Education

Michele Ribeiro, Ph.D., C.G.P.
Michele Ribeiro, Ph.D., C.G.P.

One of my top 5 strengths identified when I completed a StrengthsQuestTM assessment was being a Life Long Learner.  Being in psychology, we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to not only be constantly stimulated on new concepts that can be incorporated into our jobs but also into our personal lives as well.  Most of us in this field are hungry for learning new ideas, sharing our ideas, and mentoring others on what we have learned.  We seek to always be improving our skills on how to be more effective with our clients and help ourselves and those in our personal lives to live happier, more fulfilling lives.  As a result, I am pleased to offer this new column each quarter as a way for therapists at all levels of their career to share experiences within the area of group psychotherapy or psychology.  Division 49 is our professional home that we hope to share with those new to the field and those who are seasoned and want to stay connected with like-minded professionals.  I am interested to hear about your experiences within the areas of Training and Education to showcase in future newsletters.  Please contact me at Michele.Ribeiro@oregonstate.edu if you would like to share your experiences with our community.

We are fortunate to have two contributors, who are doctoral students completing their internship this summer at college counseling centers, share some reflections on groups during their internship year.  Each was asked to write about their experiences in facilitating a group during their internship year at a college counseling center.  Both raise universal issues of feeling unsure of their group therapy skills, examining aspects of themselves and specific social identities, and the confidence and competence they embraced as a result of their experiential learning, reflection, and ongoing risk taking in co-facilitating groups and communicating openly with their co-facilitators.  It is in interacting with therapists like Chelsea & Shirley that enhance my excitement to mentor and train the next generation of group psychotherapists.   Thank you Chelsea and Shirley for sharing your reflections.

 

 

Chelsea Twiss, MS

New Mexico State University, current PhD candidate

Doctoral Intern at Oregon State University (2017 – 2018)

My experience in co-facilitating an interpersonal process group at CAPS has been an evolving process. I am currently in my third term of co-facilitating the same interpersonal process group at CAPS. I have quite a bit of previous experience in facilitating groups in community mental health settings as well as university counseling centers, yet this was my first experience co-facilitating a group with someone who is in an evaluative role for me at the center and identifies as male (I identify as female). Initially, I noticed that I felt more anxiety about how my skills as a group facilitator would be perceived in group than I have before when co-facilitating with peers or female senior staff members.

I began the term feeling uncertain of myself and how my skills as a facilitator would be evaluated by my co-facilitator in the group. This uncertainty was enhanced by the experience of being a trainee in a new environment where I was still in the process of familiarizing myself. As time went on and I became more relaxed in my role, while still sensitive to the power dynamic in the room, and the group members seemed to notice this shift in me as well. Some of the members remarked noticing that I was participating more which seemed to be well-received particularly by female group members.

There were a few instances throughout the year where my co-facilitator and I disagreed on how something should be done in group, but initially I withheld my opinions and would usually defer to his preferences. I used supervision with my female individual supervisor to gain support on how to address this in our co-facilitator dynamic. Ultimately, I became increasingly comfortable asserting my opinions about how group should be run even if they were different from his. I also realized that when I did assert myself in our relationship, it was generally appreciated by my co-facilitator. We began to speak more openly about gender dynamics in our relationship during group supervision as well.

I would describe myself as someone who is generally comfortable and confident in my skills as a trainee and eager to learn from mistakes.  So upon reflection, I am still surprised at how noticeable my initial hesitation in my role as a group co-facilitator was. In many ways it felt as though when embarking on internship I was starting fresh and would often forget the pre-existing clinical skills and experience I could bring to the table.

The most impactful things I learned from this experience around group co-facilitation at CAPS would be the extent to which power dynamics between co-facilitators and identities of co-facilitators play out in group dynamics. I recognized a great deal about myself and how I interact differently with male staff members in positions of power than I do with female staff members in positions of power. This also gave me pause to think about the impact of multiple intersecting identities and power hierarchies within institutions and how these impact experiences for those who are both newcomers to the system as well as those on the low end of the power hierarchy within a system – which interns usually are.

Finally, the hesitation and difficulty with assertion due to socialization and messaging around gender were aspects of my identity I thought I had mostly confronted and worked through when starting internship; particularly as someone who has done a fair amount of research and teaching in the area of feminism. It turns out these relational dynamics are ongoing and fluid negotiations that are complicated by so many factors and it never seems to be a “done deal.” This is a realization I hope to carry with me and continue to reflect on as I begin my career as a Counseling Psychologist.

 

 

 

 

Shirley Ley, MEd

Adler University (Vancouver Campus), current PsyD student

Doctoral Intern at Western Washington University (2017 – 2018)

If there is one important lesson I learned from my individual work with clients is the importance of meaning making, particularly after personally transformative experiences. As I approach the final few months of predoctoral internship, I’m finding the need to make sense of my call to adventure to be a co-facilitator for group therapy. I still remember my first pre-group meeting, including my nervous laughter and unusual giddiness. These reactions were an expression of my inner child who finds excitement in hands-on, experientially-oriented learning opportunities. I was not going to turn down any chance to observe, model, and learn from my highly skilled co-facilitator who carries herself with great compassion, grace, and competence.

During the first academic quarter, I approached group work from a stance that I knew best, that is from an individual therapy perspective. I saw group as therapy with 7 people, all at the same time. Needless to say, this task overwhelmed me, causing my heart to race, palms to sweat, and throat to constrict every time group rolled around. Fearful that I might appear incompetent or inadvertently harm group members, I co-facilitated the group from a distanced and detached perspective. This experience left me feeling conflicted as it countered my humanistic and relationally-oriented approach to individual work. Thankfully, my co-facilitator guided me in understanding and appreciating the power of group dynamics and therapeutic properties found within the here-and-now group process. While this insight moved me, I struggled to translate my new learning in a way that was congruent with my therapy approach.

By the time the second academic quarter approached, I coped with my learning impasse by mimicking and parroting my experienced co-facilitator’s therapeutic style. For obvious reasons, this approach left me feeling disingenuous and stifled my creativity. Seeing that I was frustrated over my lack of learning progress, my co-facilitator invited conversations concerning my multiple identities and how these inform my relational style in everyday life. Growing up as a woman of color, I was socialized to navigate the world through the eyes of others by anticipating their thoughts, feelings, and needs and acting accordingly. Although I now understand that these are normal responses to oppressive experiences, I became empowered knowing that I could use such relational abilities within the group setting.

Now in the third academic quarter of the year, I am experimenting with my sensitivity toward unexpressed and underlying relational needs. I offer assistance in fostering the safety and unconditional positive regard that is needed for vulnerable disclosure to take place. I support group members in learning to attune and listen to each other for information relating to the need to be valued, affirmed, and cared for. I offer guidance in helping group members integrate the pain and suffering of others and convey how they have been impacted and moved. I continue to learn from my co-facilitator about how and when to identify larger group processes such as pregnant silences, anguished facial reactions or body language, there-and-then conversations that detract from present moment emotional and relational contact, or superficial conversations about daily life and unsolicited advice giving that fail to connect people on a deep, meaningful manner.

I know that my road to becoming a competent and skilled group clinician will be lengthy and the challenges that I have already faced is only a glimmer of what is to come. Since my first group experience, my inner child has settled into a more thoughtful and curious presence. As I am currently in the process of securing employment opportunities beyond graduation, my future involvement with group therapy remains uncertain and my learning trajectory will largely depend on opportunities for self-study and close involvement with a group mentor and/or facilitator. At this moment in time, what does seem certain to me is my need to remain self-compassionate, as this is the only key to unlocking my openness, creativity, and flexibility, all of which are essential ingredients to effective group work.

 

 

 

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Columns Uncategorized

Group Psychotherapy Column: Civilizations Die From Suicide not by Murder 

“Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder” — Arnold Toynbee, Historian

Tevya Zukor, Ph.D.
Tevya Zukor, Ph.D.

The summer has started with the tragic deaths by suicide of two prominent celebrities – fashion designer Kate Spade and Chef Anthony Bourdain.  While tragic, I didn’t have much of a personal reaction to the death of Kate Spade. As anyone who has seen me in person can attest, I don’t know much about the world of fashion; it has just never been an area of interest for me. However, having spent the last decade and a half in collegiate mental health, I am acutely aware of how prevalent thoughts of suicide are for many people; especially those who feel that their livelihood is dependent on crafting a carefully sanitized public image. While Ms. Spade’s death was sad and tragic, the personal impact on me was initially minimal.

While Ms. Spade’s death was sad and tragic, the personal impact on me was initially minimal.

The loss of Anthony Bourdain was different.  I had the chance to meet him a few years ago when he spoke on the campus where I was working at the time.  While our conversation was brief and overall insignificant, it has always been a cherished memory. For years, I have admired and respected Mr. Bourdain for who he was – a cantankerous, but insightful, man who did not apologize for the many years of self-destructive behavior in his youth and who passionately believed in equality and social justice. In many ways, Mr. Bourdain represented who I wanted to be – a person who could utilize their self-defeating and self-sabotaging behaviors of the past to advocate and shape a better existence in both the present and the future; a man who recognized his own flaws, but did not let that silence him from trying to make the world a better place.

Anthony Bourdain’s death hit me hard.  My mind flashed back to that fleeting conversation I had with him; not the content of the conversation (which has long ago been lost to memory), but rather to the vibrancy and enthusiasm of the person I admired.  I thought, with great sadness, about the people who were closest to Mr. Bourdain and the profound sense of loss they were experiencing.  I thought of the multiple times, both personally and professionally, when I have been confronted with the immediate aftermath of a completed suicide. There is a profound sense of shock and incongruence of those scenes – the dichotomy that one life has suddenly, and violently, ended while thousands of others continue uninterrupted and unaware of the tragedy that has occurred next to them.

I also thought about the work that we do as mental health professionals; where our “Prime Directive” is to keep people alive and safe. It’s a world that is actively avoided by many people.  Our jobs requires a certain type of empathy for pain and struggle that many find too overwhelming. We often work with clients who are teetering on the line between life and death. It’s a scary place for one to find themselves; both for the client and the clinician.  Yet, as mental health professionals, we have a sacred obligation to help shepherd even the most hopeless and despondent of souls towards finding their meaning and purpose once again. For many clinicians, this is both the most stressful and anxiety-inducing part of our jobs, but also the most rewarding.  There is no greater honor than being able to assist someone in finding their way out of the darkest place of their life.   There is no amount of monetary compensation or praise from others that can beat the feeling of knowing that we were in the right place, at the right time, and with the right set of skills to prevent an unneeded death.

At the risk of being biased, the work we do as mental health professionals is some of the noblest in the world. We engage in our trade to try and prevent tragedy whenever there is a risk. We are on the front lines of the fight many people have between life and death. High-profile suicides tend to remind us of the true stakes of our work. From one colleague to another, I offer my deepest and sincerest THANK YOU for all that you do to help those in despair.  What we do is meaningful and profound, even though it is rarely glorious.  Sometimes it is important to hear that sentiment out loud.

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Announcements Columns

Jill Paquin Appointed Editor of International Journal of Group Psychotherapy

Jill Paquin Appointed Editor of International Journal of Group Psychotherapy
By: Rebecca MacNair-Semands, Ph.D.

Rebecca MacNair-Semands, PhD, CGP
Rebecca MacNair-Semands, PhD, CGP

It is fitting that our first female editor appointed to International Journal of Group Psychotherapy (IJGP) has contributed widely to group psychotherapy teaching, training, research, and professional practice. We first came to know Dr. Jill Paquin’s work as a APA division 49 board member. In 2014, while serving on the current Science to Service Task Force of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA), we invited her to join this work group. Dr. Paquin began her service on the Science to Service Task Force when we were creating new content for the website related to evidence-based practices in groups. She was clearly skilled and passionate around how to translate research findings to the larger practice community, who use the information and implications to better serve group members. She volunteered readily for several projects, always met deadlines, and quickly jumped into the work with vigor. One example of this is that she offered to write the introduction to the entire website series. Also, together with the past AGPA President, Dr. Les Greene, she co-authored the section on group therapy for trauma and PTSD.  She then volunteered to work with another author to review and provide editorial feedback on the upcoming AGPA Principles of Group Psychotherapy curriculum.

Jill Paquin, PhD
Jill Paquin, Ph.D.

Dr. Paquin began gaining editorial experience early in her professional career, reviewing for the Journal of Group Dynamics and the Journal of Counseling Psychology, both for over four years prior to an invited to the editorial boards of these journals. Known for their rigor and high impact, this is quite an accomplishment for a young professional. She served as ad-hoc reviewer for both Psychotherapy and The Counseling Psychologist during this time, and also joined the editorial board of the Counselling Psychology Quarterly (CPQ), an international journal. She clearly values rigorous research, emphasizing qualitative and quantitative research with sound methodology. She also has experience with the Consensual Qualitative Research and Grounded Theory qualitative methods.

I value Jill’s ability as a group dynamics scholar, a skilled group psychologist, and a full-time assistant professor. She has done all this work while also raising a family in the midst of numerous duties. In her role at Chatham University she has focused on small group dynamics, the intersection of multicultural competence and evidence-based practice, career experiences of women working in STEM fields, and small group interactions entitled “Intergroup Dialogues.” Her scholarship and training has focused on helping develop the “clinician-researcher” identity as one way to bridge the gap between research and practice (particularly with the special issue she guest-edited for CPQ). She often examines therapeutic factors as well as leader behaviors that affect connections within groups. She was the first person to both study absences and their impact on the therapy group and to examine person-group fit from the I/O lit in group psychotherapy.

Dr. Paquin’s scholarship and expertise in the area of group psychology has been recognized both nationally and internationally. As an invited presenter, she often taught diversity and inclusion symposiums that made an impact on others learning how to effectively teach multicultural material to students in an effective and efficient manner. Integrating multicultural competence/social justice perspectives with therapy practice, including group work, is another strength. Having seen her in action, these programs were not only well received, but also experiential and practical in nature during crucial developmental years in our field. She has been active at the American Psychological Association annual conference, often having multiple presentations since the beginning of her involvement almost 11 years ago. As you can see, Dr. Paquin’s contributions are wide-ranging in her research, teaching/training, editorial, and clinical practice sectors of the group literature.

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Columns Leadership Welcome

President-Elect’s Column: International loneliness, Population Health and Group Work

Martyn Whittingham, Ph.D.
Martyn Whittingham, Ph.D.

In recent months, I have been fortunate to have spent considerable time traveling across the country and internationally, delivering workshops and working with therapists hungry to improve their group skills. In these travels, I have discussed with these therapists how they see overlap between culture, interpersonal relationships and identity in their setting, region or country.  As I have been teaching, I wanted to make sure that any underlying principles, techniques and assumptions were always held in check to allow local therapists and systems to engage in rigorous questioning of when to adapt and when to adopt a model of working.  Listening to them talk about their local issues has been fascinating and illuminating.  Chinese therapists discussed the implications of a massive shift in their culture toward service industries and how this has increased stress on their population, leading to increased mental health problems.  The government in England, my home country, has created a Minister of Loneliness to address serious national mental health problems that have been identified. America is struggling with issues of identity, culture and politics, with issues becoming increasingly polarized, leading to significant schisms in society.

Shifts within and between cultures create considerable stress on societies and individuals in those societies are constantly adjusting to meet them.  However, we are at a point in history where these shifts are occurring so rapidly that our ability to meet them is stretched to the limit.

Social support is a major stress buffer to these forces.  They can support our identity, help us manage stress, help us to emotionally regulate and can offset the need to engage in more self-destructive behaviors. Moreover, the impact of a lack of social support impacts more than just mental health. There have also been multiple articles and news reports recently, pointing out the research showing that loneliness can lead not only to mental health issues but also problems with physical health such as increased likelihood of heart conditions, diabetes, increased risk for dementia and overall mortality.

The problem has been identified.  People are not able to generate the social support they need, and this is impacting not only mental health but physical health as well.  The impact on people at the individual, micro level is obvious to therapists, as we see it every day in our offices.  However, the societal, macro level impact of loneliness and lack of social support is now beginning to be identified by societies and their governments.  This represents a major shift in thinking and a significant opportunity for group therapy to utilize its strengths.

The idea of what constitutes a group therapy has never been more germane.  There are many types of groups that are essentially individual therapy in a group. They focus on individual techniques and strategies and can be enormously helpful. However, as I have travelled I have become even more convinced that group as a treatment modality, and not a delivery mechanism for other therapies, has a very significant role to play in helping world population health.  Group has inherent power in helping people connect with others.  Understanding and working on attachment styles, interpersonal inflexibilities, social skills, cultural identity, cross-cultural dialogue, and simply learning to bond and connect with other human beings, has a healing power that operates at many levels.  It has lasting impact on the physical and mental health of both individuals and whole societies.  It is time for group work to claim its place in the field not just of mental health but of global population health and to begin to assert its true worth.

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Columns Leadership Welcome

President’s Column: Irvin Yalom and the Fiction in Stories of Group Therapy

Giorgio A. Tasca, Ph.D.
Giorgio A. Tasca, Ph.D.

At this year’s APA convention I will have the honour to introduce Irvin Yalom at a special conversation hour on Thursday August 9 at 11am. Dr. Yalom will receive an award from our Division celebrating his lifetime of work as it pertains to group psychotherapy, and acknowledging the great influence he has had on the field of study and practice. My first initiation to Yalom’s writings was as an intern back in the 20th century. I was given his book The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy (3rd edition), and told to read it by my supervisor because I was to participate in an inpatient group with her the next morning. Well, for those of you who know The Book, it’s not a volume that one reads in a day, rather one studies it over many days/weeks/months/years. Nevertheless, I gamely pored over it, understanding some but not much of the content. All I remember from the next day’s group was that most of what happened went over my head, and that my supervisor seemed to know what she was doing, though I didn’t know why. Maybe that is why it felt that the post-group discussions that day (and others in which I’ve participated over the years) seemed like fiction to me – that is, narratives constructed by therapists to make sense of what had occurred. I wonder if that is why Irvin Yalom turned to fiction particularly later in his career when trying to bring to life the complexity and mystery of what occurs in human interactions and group psychotherapy in particular. In Every Day Gets a Little Closer, Yalom told a true (?) story of treating a young writer, Ginny, who had writer’s block and limited funds to pay for treatment. They struck a deal in which Yalom and Ginny wrote parallel journals of each therapy session. Sure, there were some similarities in what they wrote, but there were also striking disparities that showed how widely two people can diverge in their narratives of the same events. Was this two people simply telling their versions of what occurred or was this fiction? What happens when you put 8 people together in a group – do we get 8 versions of events? Recently, a member of one of my groups, Jim, retold a distressing incident that occurred several weeks ago, but this time he described the event with considerably less distress and even flippantly. Another group member piped up and said: “that’s not how you described it last time!” What ensued was one of those discussions in group therapy about who said what, that as an intern I would have found pointless. Except it’s not pointless. People construct narratives (fictions?), and the narratives say something about who we are and how and what we need to do to manage. And just as importantly, the construction of the narratives tells us something about the nature of the relationships we are in when recounting the story. Jim needed to retell the story to his self and to the group differently this time, and to some extent this said something about his relationship to the group. In his novel When Nietzsche Wept, Yalom writes in part about the start of modern psychotherapy through a fictional encounter between Friedrich Nietzsche and Joseph Breuer. Psychotherapy, or psychoanalysis, likely had its start with Studies in Hysteria by Breuer and Freud – including the Case of Anna O. So, why did Yalom write of a fictional encounter between two historical figures to describe the birth of “the talking cure”, when perfectly good case studies written by the founders already existed? Was Yalom’s fiction more compelling or instructive than Breuer and Freud’s truth (can one even say that Studies in Hysteria was the truth)? Similarly, what I wrote in a few lines about Jim and my group was a distillation of a 90-minute session and a longer history of relationships between group members – how “true” can that be? (Should we go down that rabbit hole?). Irvin Yalom has had an important impact on my work and on my outlook on what I do as a group psychotherapist and group researcher. Some of that impact has come from his scholarly work (especially The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy), but his fiction and his “non-fiction” has had an equal impact. I will try not to gush when introducing him on August 9th, but I may not be able to help myself – and that’s the truth, I think.

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From your Editors

 

Tom Treadwell, EdD, T.E.P. C.G.P.
Tom Treadwell, EdD, T.E.P. C.G.P.
Leann Diederich, Ph.D.
Leann Diederich, Ph.D.

From Your Editors at The Group Psychologist

Winter can bring on a time for self-reflection. The quietness of the season, the (often) cold night air, and witnessing the dormancy or hibernation state that many natural beings go through, all can prompt introspection. In this issue of The Group Psychologist you’ll find one such introspection in Dr. Tevya Zukor’s column. As he writes, “Maybe the true human condition is learning that we will often feel weak when we view ourselves as just one of many, but we have strength in our groups. It forms the foundation for all of our accomplishments. As long as we identify with the “human” sub-group, we can never be alone – sometimes, we can just feel temporarily disconnected.” We encourage you to read his entire column from this issue (Directions to Neverland).

Winter can also be a time for intense productivity, such as at the recent Mid-Winter Division 49 Board Meeting or at the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP) Board Meeting. As Dr. Sean Woodland updated us from his recent attendance as a liaison to the CAPP meeting, CAPP is working closely with APA on the new membership model for APA and APAPO (more details can be found here: http://www.apapracticecentral.org/update/2018/02-08/association-structure.aspx). CAPP also is working to take on the complicated topic of master’s level psychological graduates and what licensure and independent practice options should be available to them. Be sure to check out the article summarizing more of what CAPP is focusing on in this issue [Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice].

Speaking of intense productivity, we want to echo President Georgio Tasca’s appreciation to the work of the Division 49 Board who worked tirelessly on a resubmission of a petition to the Education Directorate of the APA Commission for the Recognition of Specialities and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology (CRSPPP) to have Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy receive designation as a specialty. While this was a joint effort of your Division, the American Group Psychotherapy Association, the American Board of Group Psychology, the American Academy of Group Psychology, and the International Board of Certification of Group Psychotherapists, we recognize that several Division 49 members have been instrumental in this effort over the years.

So in closing, we hope you take some time this winter season for a range of activities, from quiet introspection all the way to intense productivity (often done in groups).

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President-Elect’s Column

Martyn Whittingham, Ph.D.
Martyn Whittingham, Ph.D.

Call to Action on Awards

As the incoming President-elect of the Society, it is my privilege to seek out nominations for Society awards. Awards are important because they give recognition and encouragement to people and programs that have poured their heart and soul into making groups work. They can provide an important boost to the mission of promoting group therapy by attracting the attention of stakeholders such as university Presidents, CEO’s and local or regional partners.  However, awards do require submissions of names and a rationale, which becomes difficult for several reasons. First, we are often too consumed with the day-to-day tasks in front of us to find the time to put together a packet that recognizes someone else.  Much though we might want to, we get busy and then later feel guilty for not having done so! Second, we are often loathe to self-nominate because it seems too self-aggrandizing. Humility is a quality that many of the best therapists possess, but in this case, it can get in the way of sometimes overdue recognition. Third, it is sometimes difficult to evaluate whether the award is something you, a colleague or program are worthy of? We are seldom aware of the efforts of others, so it is difficult to benchmark against others’ accomplishments.  These and other factors often result in people and practices not submitting very worthwhile potential awardees for consideration.

However, without nominations and the public recognition that awards bring, effective group therapy programs, teaching efforts, research or skilled group psychologists become a success story that are under-recognized.  Awards not only validate hard work and accomplishment but also elevate the awardee and their efforts within their agency, community and region.  They also serve to inspire others to greater feats or show that seemingly impossible tasks can be accomplished. That can give a lot of hope and inspiration. So, this is the call to action. Put aside your reservations about self or other-nomination and do this for the field. Take a minute as you finish this article and write a name down for each award and then rally some help from others to put together a submission. Group needs to celebrate its worth and its success stories.  Not only does it provide validation to the people nominated, but it also promotes the field and allows a light to be shone on what talented and dedicated people can accomplish with and through group therapy.

Please also note, that many of these awards also come with a financial prize as well as the award itself.  More information can be found on our web page at: http://www.apadivisions.org/division-49/awards/index.aspx. The awards are:

Professionals

  • The Arthur Teicher Group Psychologist of the Year Award
  • Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology or Group Psychotherapy
  • Excellence in Teaching of Group Dynamics
  • Excellence in Group Practice
  • Division 49 research grant
  • APF/Division 49 grants

Students

  • The Student award for outstanding contribution to diversity in group psychology or group psychotherapy
  • Student travel awards for the APA Convention
  • Student Poster Awards for the APA Convention

Send your nominations to: division49awards@gmail.com

Nomination Process:

To submit a nomination, the following is required:

  • A letter from the nominee that describes and illustrates the individual/agency/organization’s commitment to group intervention (e.g., nature of the nominee’s commitment, commitment to supervision and training, use of research or best practices to enhance group services, etc.). The letter should be no more than three pages long.
  • Three letters of support from individuals familiar with the nominee’s group psychotherapy practices (these letters can be from current or past employees, a collaborating partner or agency, or members of a Board of Directors, etc.).
  • Copy of current CV.
  • All materials should be submitted via a zipped/compressed folder in one email with the following subject line: [Candidate’s First and Last Name] – Application for Group Dynamics Teaching Award. For example, DIANA PRINCE – APPLICATION FOR PRACTICE AWARD.zip.

All submissions must be received by May 1, 2018 to be considered.

Thanks for taking the time to do this!  It means a lot to our field to recognize and celebrate the hard work and dedication that these awards highlight.