Tribute to Joseph P. Powers, Ph.D.

In Memoriam: Tributes to Joseph Patrick Powers

Phillip Speiser, PhD, LMHC

Group Psychotherapist Director

Arbour Counseling Services & Partial Hospitalization Program

Norwell, MA

Joe Powers, Ph.D
Joe Powers, Ph.D.

Dr. Joseph (Joe) Patrick Powers passed away on January 14, 2017, in his home in Needham MA. He lived with his wife Kathleen O’Brien and has two children, Devin and Cullan.

Joe was an active member of the Executive Board of Division 49 of the APA, where he recently helped pilot a new journal that focused on group practice and the practitioner. He was Director of Group Psychotherapy at the prestigious McLean Hospital in Belmont MA and was a ‘master’ group therapist. How does one become a ‘master’ at their art? We can trace this passion for the learning about ‘living, surviving and thriving’ in-group back to Joe’s formative years, growing up in the Bronx NY, as the second child of eight siblings. Born September 29, 1944 he spent much of his childhood playing stickball, basketball, handball, touch football and other sports on the streets and playgrounds in the community. In those days the neighborhood was safe and the streets became part of your extended family. Most neighbors knew each other and kept an eye out for each other. It didn’t matter much if you were Irish, Italian, Jewish or other ethnicity as long as you could ‘play ball’ and this he did. He excelled and thrived in this environment sowing seeds that touched on inclusion, fairness, and social networking. Joe then went on to study English Literature at Catholic University and then Communications at New York University. He would begin to integrate these studies and skills as he then proceeded to study Group Psychotherapy, Sociometry and Psychodrama with J.L. and Zerka Moreno in the early1970’s. The Moreno’s were early pioneers in the study of the group and have left us with many practical tools to work with and study groups, including: role play, role training, action methods, sociodrama, social atom and sociogram. Psychodrama dealt with the study of the individual within a group therapy setting through dramatic enactment- exploration. Joe quickly became a leader and trainer in this early, specialized field of study. It is at this time that I first met Joe and he became my mentor and teacher and later, friend and colleague. In 1975, Joe left NY for Boston to found the New England Psychodrama Institute with Peter Rowan. Together they also started a Psychodrama, Group Psychotherapy Master’s program at Lesley University. His passion for learning led him to continue his journey in the study of groups, as he went on to complete his doctorate at Harvard University and Boston College. It is from here he found his professional home at McLean Hospital as Director of Group Psychotherapy. For over three decades Joe continued to work as a ‘master’ group therapist, teacher, supervisor and researcher. He touched the lives of hundreds of clients, students and colleagues as he shared his wisdom and wonder for life. The ‘group’ became a second home, one filled with compassion, empathy, wonder and awe- a forum where lives could meet and find common ground as they moved towards healthy relationship and change. To quote from a family member: ‘His profound devotion to helping others find peace was surpassed only by the love he had for his family and dear friends and his capacity to see the beauty in this world.” Joe will always have a special place in our hearts and he will be greatly missed.


Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

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

Summary: Awarding of the 2016 Diversity Award, election of a new chair(s), and summary of the diversity committee activities at APA

After three years as the chair of the diversity committee, it is time for me to pass the baton and introduce new energy and leadership to our division.   Speaking on behalf of the diversity committee, we are very excited to welcome Dr. Joe Miles as the new chair.  He will be starting a three year term with some help due to his transitioning from another division role.  Dr. Eric Chen will be joining Dr. Miles as co-chair for the committee.  Thus, technically and particularly for the first year, the diversity committee will benefit from dual leadership.  As is typical for the issue of the Group Psychologist that comes out after the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, the focus of the diversity column is on the Diversity Committee’s activities at APA, as well as goals for the upcoming year.  One of the major activities we are involved in annually is to recognize those colleagues who are instrumental in promoting diversity informed group psychology and psychotherapy practices.  The Diversity Award is intended to formally honor individuals who have made significant contributions to group psychology practice, research, service, and/or mentoring, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity.

This year we recognized Dr. Kathryn Norsworthy as our Diversity Award recipient for 2016-17.  Dr. Norsworthy, a Professor in the Counseling program at Rollins College in Winter Park Florida, has consistently been recognized as an advocate for social justice and for using her group skills to develop collaborative programs nationally and internationally. Her work in the US has focused on providing mental health programs for migrants and on being a civil rights activist for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. She has established programs for persons with HIV/AIDS and victims of rape, incest, and other forms of sexual trauma. Her international work has included providing groups for women in Burma, co-editing the International Handbook of Cross Cultural Counseling: Assumptions and Practices Worldwide, and speaking as a representative to an international conference addressing mental health concerns of the world’s poorest people—a conference which was sponsored by the World Health Organization.  Dr. Norsworthy has been recognized by the Society of Counseling Psychology, the Division of International Psychology, the Division of Peace Psychology, the Counselors for Social Justice, and the Association for Specialists in Group Work.  She is clearly committed to group research and practice and her work has consistently focused on the intersection of social justice and group work.

Dr. Norsworthy’s professional contributions in the area of multicultural group counseling and psychotherapy practice, research, service, and training clearly identified her as an ideal candidate to receive the Diversity Award this year.  We are honored to have Dr. Norsworthy represent our profession and greatly value her contributions to promote further understanding and clinical effectiveness in working with diverse populations.  Thank you, Dr. Norsworthy, for your personal and professional contributions to our profession and to our communities!

Other activities at the APA convention this year included focusing on involving the student members of our committee in suite programming.  This activity was related to a 2015-16 goal on increasing student involvement in committee work.  Regarding our goals for 2016-17, we met in Denver to discuss developing a student award in the near future.  We also want to focus on recruitment, with the goal of increasing the number of students and professional members across different disciplines and add international members to our committee.  Finally, we want to focus on providing accessible resources for culturally sensitive and multiculturally competent group practice to our community of mental health providers.

As always, the members of the diversity committee invite you to notice those colleagues around you who are working to engage others, who are writing, mentoring, teaching and researching multicultural issues in group work and making contributions to group psychology practice, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity.  We want to recognize these outstanding individuals—individuals such as Dr. Norsworthy—and we invite you to nominate such individuals for the 2017-18 diversity award by contacting us.  In addition, as the outgoing chair of the Diversity Committee, I want to encourage you all to contact the diversity committee regarding a few other issues in particular.  First, let us know what topics you would like Dr. Miles to cover in the diversity columns over the next several years.  Secondly, if you would like to suggest a guest columnist, please do so.  We have been discussing the idea of asking past Diversity Award recipients to write a column or two.  Lastly, we encourage Division 49 members to become active in the diversity committee this year.  Any interested members please contact us.  Our activities and goals keep in mind our original focus of promoting the inclusion and visibility of underrepresented populations in our communities across the globe through group psychology and psychotherapy practices.

The contact information for Joe Miles is:  I have enjoyed very much reaching out to all of the members of our Division and others who have read the Group Psychologist over the years.


Group Psychotherapy Column: Sex, Drugs, and…Politics

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

More than 65 years ago, Rock ‘N Roll was invented as its own musical genre.  From its inception, many people were confused by this new-fangled music and feared that simple exposure might compel one to engage in sinful thoughts, or even worse, sinful behaviors. I can only imagine that somewhere in the early-‘50s, the following group transcript may have existed:

Member 1: If Marilyn Monroe marries a guy like Joe DiMaggio, what chance do I have of ever finding happiness?

Member 2: Not that your love-life isn’t important, but has anyone heard this new song on the radio – “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and His Comets? I got to admit, it’s pretty catchy!

Member 1: That’s the DEVIL’S MUSIC!!!  How can you listen to such filth?!? First you’re swinging your hips to the son; next thing you know you’re sleeping with every suitor who comes a’ calling. Harlot!!!

As absurd as this notion may seem in the modern era, the birth of Rock was a tumultuous time for American culture.  Many people thought that the messages contained in rock songs were “Un-Godly” and contrary to traditional biblical values.  Fans of the music were just as quick to dismiss these fears and often had no problem telling detractors to shut their word holes and let them Rock Out in peace!

Cultures shift and evolve, but human behavior is much slower to change. While it is certainly rare to still find someone who adamantly believes Rock music is the primary cause of all the world’s social ills, we have simply shifted the blame from music to whatever the new fad of the moment may be. We continue to re-package and re-brand the supposed cause, while keeping the effect (ie. “The destruction of all that is Good and Holy”) the same. The human mind is conditioned this way. We understand the world works on a cause-and-effect basis.  The worse the effect, the more we fear not understanding the cause. To prevent this from happening, we are more than willing to invent any cause that can mitigate our responsibility for the effect.

“Why was that woman assaulted?”
“You saw the way she was dressed!!”

“Why was that teenager shot?”
“He shouldn’t have run. If he would have just done what the officer said, there wouldn’t have been a problem.”

Hopefully, anyone reading this column can immediately understand the logical fallacies and the immoral conclusions of the two statements above. However, we can also probably agree that we have heard other people; whether friends, family, or so-called celebrities; espouse such victim-blaming attitudes. We are quick to judge these people – we often think of them as stupid, worthless, or something worse. We question their heritage and their upbringing.  We sleep soundly in the knowledge that we are right and they are wrong. We are enlightened; they are ignorant.

The reality is that issues of equality and fairness are as old as humankind. Societies have wrestled with what it means to be just and civil since the dawn of time. Again, the exact circumstances change with the times, but the underlying questions endure. People are passionate about these discussions because it taps deeply into our beliefs about what it means to be a “good” human being.

The stakes are high, which means people are passionate.  With intense passion, we are often driven to try and convince others to our way of thinking. After all, if we are certain we are right, then why would we want our friends to be wrong about something so important?

In our pursuit to be “right,” we often forget to be civil…and that is where all of us mental health practitioners and group psychotherapy clinicians have a vital role in bettering the lives of our clients.  Somewhere in the vitriol and passion that emerges around social justice issues, people forget that their “enemy” is another human being with drives, passions, and motivations that make them more similar than different to us.  Just as we do, these people on the other side of the issue also have people who love them and care about them. They want good things for their loved ones, just as we want for ours.

Group therapy has often been described as a microcosm for the larger society.  The skills that group members learn translate into the real world because group is a reflection of that real world, but on a smaller scale. The benefit of group is that it can also be a social laboratory – a place to explore new and different ways of being with other people. However, as is true in the larger world, group is also a place that when core beliefs of members clash, conflict often emerges. Conflict can be destructive, but it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, unlike the larger world, there are facilitators in the group and our role is to assist members in navigating challenges that might otherwise be overwhelming.

I work at a university; which means all of the members of my groups are college students – the “best and the brightest” who are motivated to learn and grow and share that knowledge with the world.  However, in recent years, I have noticed an alarming trend. Specifically, there seems to a disturbing lack of civility when disagreement is involved. The old expression, “Reasonable people can disagree reasonably,” seems to have been replaced with, “I’m right and you’re wrong. Either change your position or accept that you’re terrible human.”

I have seen conflicts emerge in group that have become personal very quickly.  I think back to a few years ago when I was running a process group at a fairly conservative university.  One of the group members was facing a personal crisis in their life.  She had recently learned that she had unexpectantly, and unwantedly, become pregnant. She was torn about what to do. She knew that one day she wanted to be a parent and that having children was important to her identity, but she was also concerned that having a child at that point in time could not only derail her ability to graduate college, but might also lead to a poor quality of life for her child; as she did not have the means to support a family.

The woman truly did not know what to do.  She considered having an abortion, but also contemplated adoption or keeping the child and raising it on her own. She recognized that each option presented the possibility of some wonderful positives, but also some terrifying negatives.  Finally, when faced with such a significant, life-altering decision; she did what we would want almost anyone to do in that situation – she brought this dilemma to the group; not because she wanted the other group members to make the decision for her, but because she knew that she would need support and compassion from people she had learned to value – no matter the decision she ultimately made.

Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending…and I honestly have no idea what choice she ultimately made regarding her pregnancy.  The reason for this is that the young woman; who was seeking support, empathy, and kindness from her cohort; instead was greeted with divineness and judgement.  Within minutes of her sharing her situation with the group, one member told her, “You’re not a murderer, so I know you won’t get an abortion.” Another member asked her how she got pregnant if she wasn’t planning on having a baby. A third decided to shift the focus of the group away from the woman’s particular situation and instead to the larger issue of a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body.

While each of these three group members were passionate about their perspectives and points of view, none were able to adequately attune to the woman’s primary purpose for disclosing to the group; which was her need for support and empathy while navigating the most challenging situation she had ever experienced. Within minutes, the woman was in tears. She had been seeking support, but instead found hostility and judgement from people she valued.  Shortly after her disclosure, she ran out of the room in a panic.  Before any of the facilitators could intervene, she had left the counseling center and would not return e-mails or phone calls. She would not respond to repeated requests to meet and process what has happened.

It is one of the saddest moments I have ever witnessed in group.  For weeks, I could not stop thinking about this young woman who was trying to make the best decision she could in a brutally tough situation. Instead of finding solace and support, she was driven out of the group and further isolated at the very time she needed connections and empathy.

In the aftermath, I wondered what I and the other co-facilitator could have done to assist this young woman. Was there some intervention that we missed? Was there an opportunity to refocus the group to the emotional needs of the woman rather than the alternate agendas of the three other group members? Like most moral conundrums that emerge in group, there are no easy answers or ideal solutions to such complicated issues.  Ultimately, my co-facilitator and I had to accept that while we may have acted differently with the benefit of hindsight, there are no guarantees that this situation would have ended any better (or worse).

As often happens, I hadn’t thought about this situation in years…until a colleague shared a story about something that occurred in their group last week. A young man on the Autism Spectrum arrived for their first group of the semester.  He was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, in support of Presidential candidate Donald Trump. Another group member, upon seeing the hat, immediately stated that she would not participate in a group with a bigot. She explained that her parents immigrated to the United States from the Middle East and that her entire family was proud to be American. She deeply believed that if Donald Trump were to become President, her family would risk deportation. She was scared; afraid of this possibility for her and her family. Instead of remaining in the group, and possibly talking with the new group member about his reasons for supporting Mr. Trump and using it as an opportunity to learn and educate, she walked out of the group when the facilitators refused to ban the newest member, or at least insist that he remove his hat.

These two situations have one thing in common: People who most needed the opportunity to process their intense feelings of sadness, rage, and potential loss never got the opportunity. The attitude of “My beliefs are right, so I will not tolerate those that are different” ended up winning the day at great cost to the members who may have simply needed some support and understanding.  While it may be easy to blame people for their close-minded attitudes, the truth is that we are products of our environment. We grow up and develop in the context of a larger society.  When our current political system reinforces divides and differences; when society tacitly accepts that it is okay to demonize and shun those who disagree with us; it is hard to blame the group member for being a product of that environment. After all, they are simply behaving in a manner consistent with their years of upbringing.

If we, as group facilitators, want these scenarios to have a different ending, then we need to model the change that we believe to be important.  We all have an obligation to teach and encourage discussion. Conflicts do not have to be dogmatically reinforced and highlighted, but instead can be explored and gently challenged. We need to set a clear message for our groups: Disagreements are not automatically personal. People can still like and care for one another; even when we do not share every value or belief.  We know that our similarities are far more important than our differences, but we must forgive some of our clients who have never received this message…and we must teach them a better way.

Committee Reports

Liaison Report CAPP

Leann Diederich, Ph.D.
Leann Diederich, Ph.D.

I attended a two day CAPP board meeting in early September as a liaison from our Society. The CAPP board members and fellow liaisons are a group of talented individuals who are invested in coming together as a group to advance the needs of practicing psychologists. The focus of the board, and by extension, the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) can be seen by examining the “four Ps”: payment, prestige, practice protection, and products.  Highlights from the September meeting, as organized by these four areas, can be found below:


  • APAPO has been working to help develop a new CPT code which would provide better reimbursement for psychologists who use certain testing practices and assessments.
  • APAPO is going to start working on developing a Qualified Clinical Data Registry (QCDR) which will help psychologists control their own outcome measurements (to aid in reporting relevant outcomes to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). This QCDR would be a system that psychologists could use for the upcoming requirement of Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), which will replace PQRS (as it expires on December 31st). I hope as they move forward with selecting outcome measures, that group based outcomes will be represented.
  • Legal and Regulatory Affairs (LRA) staff reported success in their fight with the New York Attorney General’s office regarding Cigna’s exclusion of neuropsychological assessment for all psychiatric disorders and autism spectrum disorders.
  • LRA is also continuing their work on advocating for intern reimbursement under Medicaid and report continued progress in several states.


  • The Government Relations staff of APAPO continues to advocate for psychologists inclusion in the Medicare “physician” definition (H.R. 4277/S. 2597).
  • CAPP formed a workgroup to discuss and determine if there are aspects or implications of the APA resolution on psychologists in integrated care settings. This workgroup would also focus on what CPT codes might be appropriate for telehealth within integrated care. This also ties into payment concerns for psychologists engaged in these activities.

Practice Protection:

  • Recently LRA also provided input to the Texas State Board regarding the Serafine decision by the 5th Circuit US Court of Appeals decision invalidating parts of the licensing law.
  • APAPO and LRA consistently tackle issues relating to mental health parity. They recently met with Federal Parity Enforcement officials to review key issues and concerns. They are actively involved in cases regarding parity issues with several insurance companies, including Regence BCBS and Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia.


  • As was described above, a product in development is the QCDR. However, another product that was strongly supported at the CAPP meeting was for APAPO to update the HIPAA product. This is especially salient in light of upcoming Phase 3 HIPAA audits from HHS.

I am honored to represent Division 49 as a liaison to the Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice. Due to budget constraints, CAPP will only meet once in person next year, currently scheduled for October 2017. However, if there are significant updates that are provided to liaisons via electronic meetings, those will be included in future issues of TGP.


Division 49 Co-Chairs Call for Proposals

Greetings, Members:

As programming co-chairs for the convention, Debra and I are excited to be part of the planning of what is sure to be another exciting Division 49 program! We wanted to alert you to upcoming opportunities to submit group psychology and group psychotherapy proposals.

Throughout the year, there will be several opportunities to submit proposals for programming at the convention. The next approaching deadline is for submissions of APA Continuing Education (CE) Workshop Proposals. For more information on CE Workshop proposals, please see Workshop proposals are due by Nov. 14th.

The next submission deadline is for Division Individual and Program Proposals. Division 49 welcomes submissions of the following types of proposals: papers, posters, symposia, conversation hours, and skill building sessions. For more information on Division proposals, please see proposals are due by Dec. 1.

Lastly, APA Film Festival proposals are due by Dec. 22.

Please feel free to contact Division 49’s Program Co-Chairs for the 2017 convention, Martin Kivlighan ( or Debra O’Connell ( with any questions or requests.

We look forward to seeing you all in Washington, DC for the 2017 APA Convention!


Martin and Debra

Martin Kivlighan, Ph.D.
Martin Kivlighan, Ph.D.
Debra O'Connell, Ph.D.
Debra O’Connell, Ph.D.
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.

Brief Articles

University/College Therapeutic Diabetes Support Group Therapy

Kathleen Lehmann, MA
Kathleen Lehmann, MA


This paper serves as a proposal for a therapeutic support group for those with type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes in university/college environment. While a great deal is known about the medical implications of diabetes, those living with the conditions find very few opportunities in which they are able to gain psychological support to help come to terms and cope with the condition. This paper outlines a professional therapeutic diabetes support group, in which professionals would come together to learn more about diabetes and increase compliance and accountability. Over the span of the group, members will learn details about diabetes, learn ways to cope with and fight stigma, and also build rapport and develop a community from which they can obtain support in the future. The aim of the group is to have members end up with a better understanding of diabetes and develop ways to help maintain a healthier lifestyle physically and psychologically.

Keywords: diabetes, type 1, type 2, gestational diabetes, group therapy, therapeutic support group, diabetes stigma, university

University/College Therapeutic Diabetes Support Group Therapy

Diabetes is a medical condition in which your body has issues that cause blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal (American Diabetes Association, 2015). There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. In type 1 diabetes, the body, more specifically the pancreas, does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. With type 2, the body does not use insulin properly, referred to as insulin resistance. At first, the pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. Over time it is not able to keep up and cannot make enough insulin to keep the blood glucose at normal levels (American Diabetes Association, 2015). In addition to problems with insulin regulation, diabetes can cause complications with high blood pressure that can raise the risk for heart attack, stroke, eye problems, and kidney disease if left untreated (American Diabetes Association, 2015).

Purpose of Group

The prevalence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes has been increasing worldwide in the last few decades (Unnikrishnan, Bhatia, E., Bhatia, V., Bhadada, Sahay, Kannan, & Sanjeevi, 2008). Diabetes is a growing challenge for health care systems worldwide. Recent estimates have predicted that more than 300 million people will have the condition by the year 2025 (Gomersall, Madill, & Summers, 2011; King, Aubert, & Herman, 1998; Zimmet, Alberti, & Shaw, 2001). These numbers are shocking, and preventions and interventions for diabetes are crucial now more than ever. While the medical field is doing what it can to aid developing these interventions and preventions, assistance from the experts in psychology would help to bolster the effort even more.

While it is known that there is currently a diabetes epidemic, little attention is given to the ever growing young adult population diagnosed with diabetes (Wolpert & Anderson, 2001). Young adults with diabetes face unique challenges as they transition to self-care, and yet they fail to fit into neither pediatric nor adult medicine to help address these challenges. Because of this, they tend to be a forgotten group within the university/college population and counseling centers. University/college counseling centers, according to Gallagher (2014), typically include groups for students struggling with, anxiety disorders, crises requiring immediate response, psychiatric medication issues, clinical depression, learning disabilities, sexual assault on campus, self-injury issues, (e.g. cutting to relieve anxiety), and problems related to earlier sexual abuse.

However, there is a paucity of diabetes support groups in these counseling centers. When they are present, utilization and participation of these groups are low. Many young adults are affected by serious disorders, such as epilepsy, diabetes, or autism, and support for these groups of people on college campuses falls short. People in general tend to close their eyes and are blind to these groups. Research has shown us that these disorders, specifically diabetes, come with a number of negative implications, such as depression, anxiety, and poor self-esteem (Schabert, Browne, Mosely, & Speight, 2013). However, the research is limited in that it does nothing to provide these groups of people with the psychological support they need when dealing with diabetes. For all of these reasons, the need is greater now more than ever for a support group that targets under serviced groups.

The diabetes epidemic is much more of an issue than the public realizes (Schabert et al., 2013). While the above facts give examples of how the medical field acknowledges the severity of the disease, the ways in which the field of psychology and counseling helps to support people with diabetes are few. There is a huge stigma and misconception around diabetes (Schabert et al., 2013). People with diabetes know all too well the reality of living in a world where they are labeled and judged because they have a medical condition. Many people with diabetes experience constant worry, and many consistently face feelings of self-blame, fear, disgust, and feeling the need to fit into societal norms and avoid their disease. They also fear being judged, rejected, and discriminated against due to their condition (Schabert et al., 2013). This concept may give indication as to why compliance and accountability are huge issues with diabetes. People with the diagnosis may be in denial about their condition, where admitting that they have diabetes would mean admitting that there is something wrong with them (more than a medical condition). Because of this, they may be more likely to be noncompliant with their diabetes self-care and have little accountability over the decisions they make. The stigma has been found to cause serious issues with a person’s psychological well-being (Schabert et al., 2013). There is a great shame in people with diabetes; that somehow it is their fault that they have this medical condition. For that reason, therapeutic diabetes support groups need to be established to help people realize that they are not alone in their disease and that it is not a character fault.

The young adult period marks a critical point in a person’s life, where lifelong routines of self-care are set (Wolpert & Anderson, 2001). This presents a window of opportunity to intervene and influence habits that will help maintain good health later in life. For that reason, this paper proposes that we target this young adult group during college and as they start settling into their careers. In addition, the incidence of diabetes is so high and steadily increasing and more people are left with having to come to terms and deal with the ramifications of this condition. A therapeutic diabetes support group would aim at making the transition easier on people new to the diagnosis, as well as allowing people who have lived with the condition for many years to have much needed support. The overall purpose of the group would be two-fold: help with the medical aspects of the condition, such as education on what diabetes is, information about blood glucose/testing, and dietary/exercise information, as well as provide support and accountability to help increase compliance. The focus will be to not only provide emotional and psychological support to those with diabetes, but to help normalize the concept of diabetes and to try to help end the stigma as well.

Type of Group

The therapeutic diabetes support group plans to focus on psychoeducation, skill development, and support for emerging adults with diabetes. Research has found that self-management is the most used approach to diabetes control (Gomersall, Madill, & Summers, 2011). In this self-management approach, patients are awarded the responsibility for managing their illness, for example adopting new diets and regular exercise. To control diabetes, individuals must oversee daily behavior and long-held habits that often have to be changed (Gomersall, Madill, & Summers, 2011). Understandably, this leaves room for the client to curb or even ignore compliance to these guidelines. It has been found that for people with diabetes, adhering to these programs of self-care is often problematic (Nagelkerk, Reick, & Meengs, 2006). In addition to compliance in general, a number of other barriers have been cited to cause problems. The most frequently reported barriers were lack of knowledge of a specific diet plan, lack of understanding of the plan of care, helplessness and frustration from a lack of glycemic control, and continued disease progression despite adherence to the guidelines (Nagelkerk, Reick, & Meengs, 2006). In light of these findings, a support group that focuses on the development of skills needed for diabetic maintenance, as well as psychoeducation on the disease in general, will be the most effective approach in working with this population. The therapeutic support group will focus on developing a collaborative relationship between the facilitator and group members, maintaining a positive attitude that prompts proactive learning, and having a support person who provides encouragement and promotes accountability.

Screening Criteria  

Screening criteria for the therapeutic diabetes support group will be simple but rigid. Members must have a diagnosis of type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes. The main caveat with this group is that it will aim to be a professional diabetes group. Professionals are people with the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowledge and skills necessary to perform the role of that profession. For that reason, members should be working graduate level students or professionals in emerging adulthood. Making the group a professional association works to ensure stricter compliance, accountability, attendance, and higher group rapport. The group will have a rolling admissions, and members will be able to pick up where they need. Members can be selected through a referral program or through their job place/college campus.

In addition, each member must have a blood glucose meter or a continuous blood glucose monitoring system readily available. They must have access to a computer and/or smartphone for tracking of blood sugar levels. There will be a strict attendance policy due to the fact that compliance and accountability are key components of the group. Missing a session will result in termination from the group (extenuating circumstances will be evaluated on a case by case basis). Members must agree to these conditions and sign a contract at the beginning of the initial session. Finally, research has suggested that “stage of change” may be a good predictor of attendance at diabetes prevention and intervention sessions and have implications for intervention design and assessment (Helitzer, Peterson, Sanders, & Thompson, 2007). Because of this, the group should include only people in at least the preparation stage of change. The stage of change model explains that there are five stages a person goes through when they are making a behavior. The stages include pre contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintanence (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1983). The success of the group will be based heavily on each member’s willingness to change and devotion to the rules and regulations of the group. An evaluation by the member’s therapist, doctor, and/or an interview with the group facilitators as to what stage of change the client is believed to be in will be necessary for admittance into the group. This will help ensure a higher chance that the members will attend the sessions and therefore have higher chance for success with compliance.

Role of Group Leaders and Facilitation Issues

The biggest facilitation issue will be the compliance and attendance of the group members. Because of this, the attendance policy will be very strict and groups will run weekly. The group should include a small, even number of people – preferably around six. There will be two group leaders. One should have diagnosis of diabetes themselves, and the other should be a person without diabetes who can act as a neutral, non-invested party. At least one should be therapist as well. The role of the group leaders will be to facilitate group discussions, answer questions, hold group members accountable, and provide support.

Methods and Techniques

Each session will begin with the group leaders checking in with all of the members and discussing any issues that arose from the previous week. Every session will focus on a specific topic surrounding diabetes maintenance. The group will be highly collaborative in nature, and each session topic for the following weeks will be picked by the group in the first session. Topics may include things like diets and exercise, psychoeducation on diabetes, how to maintain accountability and compliance, blood glucose meter training, and tracking of blood glucose levels. When appropriate, the group leaders will arrange a guest speaker to come into the session to discuss that week’s topic. This may include help from a dietician, for example, where every group member will be given their own personalized diet plan to follow.

In addition, medical specialists in the field of diabetes will come to educate the group on what diabetes actually is and the science behind what is going on in the body. A session will be devoted to the discussion of the psychological and emotional impacts of diabetes and how to cope with them. A nurse practitioner will attend one session to administer initial blood glucose readings (to serve as a baseline for comparison after the group has ended) and demonstrate proper use of blood glucose meters, as well as appropriate times to test blood glucose throughout the day (typically 1-2 hours after meal times). A personal trainer will attend one group to educate the members about the importance of physical activity and will help each member develop personalized exercise routines. Finally, a guest speaker will come teach the group how to track their levels in a smartphone/computer app. The members will then be able to bring their results to session every week for analysis and discussion. This will also serve as data throughout the length of the group.

Accountability will be the main component of this group. Within the group itself, everyone will be paired up with another individual. In addition to the accountability to the entire group, each member will form a therapeutic alliance with their own personal partner to further facilitate compliance. Weekly check-ins with the therapeutic partner (in addition to the actual group meeting) will be necessary. Further, members should utilize their therapeutic partners on an as needed basis throughout the week for added support. Every group member will also be given the group leaders’ contact information as a last source of support. The group leader will focus on one member every week to stay accountable to and will check in with this person daily.

Duration of Group and Expected Outcomes

Depending on the number of topics selected by the group in the first session, the group will run anywhere from 8-12 weeks. Sessions will be on a weekly basis on the assigned day and time. They will be held in the evening or on weekends to accommodate the members. After the group has ended, it is hypothesized that compliance and accountability towards their diabetes maintenance (adherence to diet, exercise, blood glucose monitoring, etc.) will increase. In addition, the members’ levels of depression, anxiety, and stress involving their diagnosis are hypothesized to decrease. Overall health and well-being (as reported in self-report form and in regards to weight loss, stamina, and overall better sense of self) is expected to increase. Finally, it is hypothesized that there will be a decrease in the overall average blood glucose levels.

Process of Evaluation

Evaluation will take place in the form of self-report, scales, and data collected throughout the span of the group. At the end of the group, the members will submit journal entries detailing their progress and how they feel the group has helped them. Depression, anxiety, and stress will be measured using pre and post scores from the Beck Depression Inventory, the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, and the Health Anxiety Inventory. In addition, the data collected from each member’s smartphone/computer app will be analyzed to review the overall progress of each member and the group as a whole. The more precise blood draw taken by the nurse practitioner to measure blood glucose levels pre and post group will be used in addition to the data collected personally by the members to ensure that their true progress is calculated, and to counteract any deception by the members on their personal recording of levels. Finally, attendance and a self-report of the number of compliance days (diet, exercise, check-ins with partner, etc.) will be recorded as a final measure to check for compliance and accountability.


The aim of the therapeutic diabetes support group is to end with a better understanding of diabetes and how to best maintain a healthy lifestyle, both physically and psychologically, as well as to increase compliance and accountability. Through psychoeducation and a better medical understanding, the group members should be able to combat the stigma against them in better ways. Hopefully, they will be able to spread strength, knowledge, understanding, and positivity to help end the stigma altogether. By using a model of professionals with diabetes, the hope is that there will be more compliance and accountability. These concepts are extremely important in the initial stages as the group in general as it is just starting out. As the number of cases of diabetes continues to increase, creating a group that will help this population is critical. The proposed group will help people to come to terms with their diagnosis, get the emotional and psychological support they need, and ultimately end the stigma.


American Diabetes Association. (2015). Retrieved from

Gomersall, T., Madill, A., & Summers, L. M. (2011). A metasynthesis of the self-management of type 2 diabetes. Qualitative Health Research, 21(6), 853-871.doi:10.1177/104973231 1402096

Gallagher, R.P. (2014) The national survey of college counseling centers. Retrieved from

Helitzer, D. L., Peterson, A. B., Sanders, M., & Thompson, J. (2007). Relationship of stages of change to attendance in a diabetes prevention program. American Journal Of Health Promotion, 21(6), 517-520.

King, H., Aubert, R., & Herman, W. (1998). Global burden of diabetes, 1995-2025. Prevalence, numerical estimates and projections. Diabetes Care 21(9), 1414-1431. doi:10.2337/ diacare.21.9.1414

Nagelkerk, J., Reick, K., & Meengs, L. (2006). Perceived barriers and effective strategies to diabetes self-management. Journal Of Advanced Nursing, 54(2), 151-158. doi:10.1111/ j.1365-2648.2006.03799.x

Prochaska, J. and DiClemente, C. (1983) Stages and processes of self-change in smoking: toward an integrative model of change. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 5, 390–395.

Schabert, J., Browne, J. L., Mosely, K., & Speight, J. (2013). Social stigma in diabetes: A framework to understand a growing problem for an increasing epidemic. The Patient: Patient Centered Outcomes Research, 6(1), 1-10. doi: 10.1007/s4027-012-0001-0

Unnikrishnan, A. G., Bhatia, E., Bhatia, V., Bhadada, S. K., Sahay, R. K., Kannan, A., & …Sanjeevi, C. B. (2008). Type 1 diabetes versus type 2 diabetes with onset in persons younger than 20 years of age. Annals Of The New York Academy Of Sciences, 1150239-244. doi:10.1196/annals.1447.056

Zimmet, P., Alberti, K. G., & Shaw, J. (2001). Global and societal implications of the diabetes epidemic. Nature, 414, 782-787.doi:10.1038/414782a


Book Review

Group Therapy Workbook: Integrating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Psychodramatic Theory and Practice

Group Therapy Workbook:

Integrating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Psychodramatic Theory and Practice


Thomas W. Treadwell

Letitia E. Travaglini, Debbie Dartnell, Maegan Staats, and Kelly Devinney

As Director of Group Psychotherapy at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, I have ample opportunity to experience how important treatment models such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Mentalization – Theory of Mind, Mindfulness, Narrative Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Expressive Therapies, Interpersonal Therapy, Milieu Therapy, Psychopharmacology, Electro Convulsive Therapy, Group Psychotherapy, and other modalities are systematically utilized in a treatment environment encompassing inpatient, residential, partial hospital, and outpatient programs. Though falling under the rubric of “hospital-based” treatments with stabilization and step down programs to assist individuals and families, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has emerged as an essential part of the hospital’s treatment repertoire across all treatment programs. In fact, one of our excellent partial programs, Adult Behavioral Health, is often described by participants as “being in college,” learning important information and strategies to assist recovery. Psychodrama, because of necessary limitations for more vulnerable treatment populations, is significantly less utilized as a method and finds more applicability as role playing.

Tom Treadwell’s contributions to the integration of action and experiential methods with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are significant steps for both theoretical models. On the one hand, psychodrama, as practiced in classical styles, often relied on spontaneity and the importance of action rather than just telling. Cognitive Behavioral therapy developed a protocol with systematic methods that integrated thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Mirroring my first exposure to one school of CBT in New York City, a la Albert Ellis, Tom Treadwell has created a bridge in which each method can inform and expand the relationship in the cognitive triad. He introduces a group format that utilizes multiple measures to inform each group member concerning particular areas of concern, educates group members on the Cognitive Behavioral treatment model, and gives feedback that stimulates both the individual and the whole group in behavioral change.

This synthesis is not an easy endeavor. I would suspect that Treadwell, with the support of Aaron Beck, would have to establish a training program that initiates professionals in the utilization of action methods and cognitive behavioral methods and strategies. When I project an image of the two methods on to a Field Diagram created by Freed Bales, I would probably predict that CBT would be rated as an “intellectually controlled, rationally energized” method and Psychodrama would be “more emotionally expressive, intuitive.” Both mirror the oscillating patterns in groups, i.e., the need for task completion and, on the other hand, the need for socio-emotional connection. Treadwell’s Group Therapy Workbook makes a substantial contribution for practitioners in CBT and Psychodrama to practice in their accustomed method by expanding the range and applicability of each method.

I recommend this Workbook for practitioners in both methodological arenas: CBT therapists could well utilize action methods to expand their practice in important concepts such as the cognitive triangle and defeating schemas. Psychodramatists could well utilize the basic components of CBT in the practice of psychodrama, helping protagonists to better understand the internalized thought, feeling, and behavior patterns that are related to the here and now. Treadwell’s contribution is an important milestone in the connection of these two important modalities. As the process unfolds, more learning will emerge and the integration and development of “integrating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with Psychodramatic Theory and Practice” will certainly make a significant contribution to peoples’ lives.

Reviewed by:

Joe Powers Ph.D
Joe Powers, Ph.D.
Brief Articles

Prevention Corner

Elaine Clanton Harpine, Ph.D.
Elaine Clanton Harpine, Ph.D.

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?

I’m Confused


Dear Confused:

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


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

Lyon, G. R. (2002). Reading development, reading difficulties, and reading instruction educational and public health issues. Journal of School Psychology, 40, 3-6.

National Assessment of Educational Progress. (2013). Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2013. Retrieved from report card/pdf/main2013/2010458.pdf

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.


Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

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

The first column after the annual American Psychological Association convention each year typically focuses on the Diversity Committee’s activities at APA, as well as goals for the upcoming year. Our activities and goals keep in mind our original focus: promoting the inclusion and visibility of underrepresented populations in our communities across the globe. One of the major activities we are involved in to further this goal includes the presentation of the Diversity Award to formally honor individuals who have made significant contributions to group psychology practice, research, service, and/or mentoring, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity.

Chun-Chung Choi, Ph.D.
Chun-Chung Choi, Ph.D.

This year we recognized Dr. Chun-Chung Choi as our Diversity Award recipient. Dr. Choi was nominated by his colleagues for making significant contributions to both scholarship and practice, resulting in the advancement of diversity issues, particularly in the realm of group counseling and advocacy for international students. Some of his many contributions in this area include: creating innovative group programming for International Students at the University of Florida, which evolved into a specialty training program for Counseling and Wellness Center psychology interns; creating two groups that run each semester and that address limited campus resources related to supporting Mandarin speaking International Students; and providing supervision, training, and mentorship to interns in order to assist them in increasing their multicultural competency related to working with diverse populations in group therapy. Dr. Chung has also taught group counseling courses and has published five peer reviewed articles, two book chapters, and a film production aimed at empathy training for ethnic and cultural awareness. In addition he has presented over 49 refereed national publications (including two Division 49 sponsored symposiums at APA in 2014 related to multiculturalism in groups), one international, nine regional, and numerous local presentations. Dr. Choi’s professional contributions in the area of multicultural group counseling and psychotherapy practice, research, service, and training clearly add to our profession and promote further understanding and clinical effectiveness in working with diverse populations. Thank you, Dr. Choi, for your contributions to our profession and to our communities!

At the APA convention this year, the Diversity Committee focused on involving the student members of our committee in submitting a symposium entitled Multicultural Skill Development in Group Psychotherapy. The goal of the symposium was to provide multiple perspectives on increasing multicultural competence, particularly in the area of skill development in group psychotherapy. The contributors of the symposium presented on two topics: (a) “Intergroup Dialogue as a Mechanism for the Development of Multicultural Group Leadership” presented by Brittany A. White and co-authored by Joseph R. Miles, and (b) “Facilitating Group therapy Trainees’ Multicultural Competencies Development through Clinical Supervision” presented by Elena E. Kim and co-authored by Kali Rowe and Eric C. Chen. We had several other Division 49 programs related to diversity and good turn out to our programs. We also met as a committee to discuss goals for 2016. Our focus for next year involves increasing student interaction and interest in our Division and subcommittee. Several ideas were put forth as incentives for students to get more involved, including specific programming targeting student issues, a student focused diversity award, and the creation of a student work symposium. Prioritizing and further developing our goals, as well as adding new members to our committee and seeking Diversity Award nominations will be a focus of our committee this fall.

As the chair of the Diversity Committee, I have a special opportunity to reach out the Division 49 members and spark interest in diversity related topics through this column. In the past year I have heard from a few members who have made comments or suggestions for columns and I’m always glad to hear from you. As always, I invite you to contact me and let me know about the topics that are important to you or that you want to hear about. If you have exciting research and want me to highlight it, please also let me know. As 2014 fades out and we greet 2015, our committee returns once again to recruiting activities. I ask those who are interested in joining us to please contact me. In addition, I ask you to please notice those colleagues around you who are working to engage others, who are writing, mentoring, teaching and researching multicultural issues in group work and making contributions to group psychology practice, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity. Their work honors us and we would like to honor them. Please contact me to put forth their names so we can acknowledge them in 2016.

My contact information is new this year: