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Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

Joe Miles, Ph.D.
Joe Miles, Ph.D.

Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

The Diversity Committee met in the Division 49 Hospitality Suite at the annual American Psychological Association Convention in Washington, DC. The Committee has several initiatives we will be focusing on in the coming year:

First, we hope to develop a webinar series focused on diversity and social justice in group. If there are specific topics related to diversity and social justice in group you would like to see covered in a webinar, please let us know! You can send ideas to Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu.

In addition, the Committee is working together with our Program Chair, Debra O’Connell, to develop a Diversity and Social Justice in Group Poster Session at the 2018 APA Convention. This will be a second poster session, in addition to our usual poster session, and will give us the opportunity to highlight posters that specifically present research, clinical practice, or advocacy efforts aimed at promoting diversity and social justice in group work. Student Poster Awards will be given to the top three posters (in addition to the student poster awards given in the general poster session). Cash prizes of $300, $200, and $100 for the first, second, and third place, respectively! Posters should be submitted and will be reviewed following the standard procedures for poster submissions. Authors should indicate in their proposal that the poster is to be considered for the Diversity and Social Justice in Group Poster Session. The deadline for proposal submissions is 5:00 PM ET on Thursday, December 1, 2017. More information on how to submit proposals can be found in the APA Call for Proposals: http://www.apa.org/convention/proposals.aspx.

The Committee also hopes to develop a Diversity and Social Justice in Group section of the Division 49 Website. We envision this section as a place to highlight research related to diversity and social justice in group, and to share resources (e.g., syllabi, articles, guidelines). If you have ideas about what you might like to see in this section of the website, or if you have resources or other material you would like to share, please let us know!

Finally, the Committee is excited to welcome our new Chair, Nikki Coleman, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences at the University of Houston. Dr. Coleman is also the incoming Member-at-Large for Diversity for the Board of Division 49. Welcome, Dr. Coleman!

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Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

Joe Miles, Ph.D.

Recognizing Diversity

The Diversity Committee of the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy is hard at work evaluating applications for our first ever Student Diversity Award. The winner will be announced at the Division 49 Business Meeting at 2:00 PM on Friday, August 4th at the 2017 APA Convention in Washington, DC. Thank you to all who nominated students for this award!

The Diversity Committee will be meeting on Friday, August 4th at 12:00 PM in the Division 49 Hospitality Suite at the 2017 APA Convention. We will be sure to wrap up the meeting in time to head to the Division 49 Presidential Address at 1 PM. If you are interested in joining the Committee, please email Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu, or join us at our meeting in the Hospitality Suite on August 4th!

Finally, we would like to highlight two programs relevant to diversity and social justice in group work at this year’s convention.

  • 10:00 AM: Symposium: Group Therapy with Diverse College Women (1 hour)
  • 2:00 PM: Conversation Hour: A Dialogue about Dialogue: Implementation of Intergroup Dialogue on College Campuses (2 hours)

We hope to see you there!

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Diversity Committee

Joe Miles, Ph.D.

Recognizing Student and Professional Contributions to Diversity in Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy

The Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Committee is pleased to announce a new Student Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology. This award is in addition to the Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology. Both awards may be given each year to qualified nominees. Information about both awards can be found below:

1. The Student Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology or Group Psychotherapy

The Student Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology or Group Psychotherapy seeks to recognize excellence in group psychology practice, research, service, and/or advocacy with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity.  All who are members of Division 49 (or whose application for membership is currently pending) are eligible. Nominations may come from self or others. The award will be presented at the annual American Psychological Association Convention. A $500.00 cash award and plaque will be presented to the award winner. Nominations materials should include and be limited to the following:

  • Names, phone numbers, program and institutional affiliations, APA divisional membership of yourself (the endorser) and of your nominee.
  • A brief letter highlighting your nominee’s contributions in promoting understanding and respect for diversity in group psychology practice, research, service and/or advocacy.
  • The nominee’s vita.
  • 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, MARGARET WISE BROWN – APPLICATION FOR STUDENT DIVERSITY AWARD.zip.

All submissions must be received by May 1, 2017 to be considered. Send to division49awards@gmail.com

2. The Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology or Group Psychotherapy

The Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology or Group Psychotherapy started in 2012 and is awarded every year. This award honors psychologists who have made significant contributions to group psychology practice, research, service, and/or mentoring, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity.  All who are members of Division 49 (or whose application for membership is currently pending) are eligible. Nominations may come from self or others. The award will be presented at the annual American Psychological Association Convention. A $1,000.00 cash award and plaque will be presented to the award winner. Nominations materials should include and be limited to the following:

  • Names, phone numbers, program and institutional affiliations, APA divisional membership of yourself (the endorser) and of your nominee.
  • A brief letter highlighting the nominee’s contributions in promoting understanding and respect for diversity in group psychology practice, research, service and/or mentoring.
  • The nominee’s vita.
  • 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, ERICA BLADE – APPLICATION FOR DIVERSITY AWARD.zip.

Self-nominations are accepted. Nominations are reviewed by the Diversity Committee and voted on by the board of directors at its midwinter meeting.

All submissions must be received by May 1, 2017 to be considered. Send to division49awards@gmail.com


Diversity Programming at APA in Washington, DC

The Diversity Committee would like to help highlight diversity-related programming at the 2017 APA Convention in Washington, DC this August. If you will be presenting on a topic related to diversity in group psychology or group psychotherapy, please let us know! You can send titles of your presentations to Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu.

In addition, the Diversity Committee is interested in developing a diversity-related program in the Division 49 Hospitality Suite at the Convention. This program could take the form of a conversation hour, mentoring session, or panel of speakers. Our goal is to foster dialogue among Division members about diversity in group psychology and group psychotherapy in an informal setting. We would like to hear from you about diversity-related topics or types of programming you would like to see in the Suite! Please email any ideas or requests to Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu.

Join the Diversity Committee!

Do you have a passion for diversity and social justice in group psychology or group psychotherapy? Consider joining the Diversity Committee! The committee was established in 2007 “to promote the inclusion and visibility of underrepresented minorities in the society. The committee is also charged with attracting, fostering, and managing diversity in membership and activities of the society, and developing and recommending policies and programs designed to educate members of the division in this area in their practice, research and training” (see: http://www.apadivisions.org/division-49/leadership/committees/index.aspx). If you are interested in learning more, please contact Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu.

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Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

Jeanne Steffen, Ph.D.
Jeanne Steffen, Ph.D.

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: jsteffen2013@gmail.com

References

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.