Prevention Corner: Violence Prevention

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

Violence seems to be a problem plaguing many practitioners as evidenced by the number of letters that we have received recently asking for help. The letter chosen for today highlights a problem facing families, schools, parenting prevention groups, and those training prevention group practitioners.

Editorial Question Posed:

Dear Prevention Corner: 

I have a second-grade student who lives in a violent household.  The parents are not married but live together.  There are five children living at home.  My student is the middle child.  My student “worships” his father.  The father has just returned to the household from prison.  Drugs are also part of the family scene. 

Upon the father’s return from prison, my student has turned violent in the classroom.  He was so excited to have his father return but now he is angry and acting out violently toward others.  He has been to the school counselor, but it has not helped.  What can I do to help this student?  I have heard that a prevention group might be helpful.  Do you think this would help?  If so, what kind of group should I look for?


Wanting to Help

Dear Wanting to Help:

Thank you for sending in your question. Unfortunately your student is not alone, as millions of American children live in homes with exposure to drugs and violence. Additionally, it is common in those situations for children to act out in their other environments, such as in school. As an educator, it can be particularly distressing to watch this happen to one of your students.

Even though you suspect that the problem behavior does not originate within this individual child, and is a result of distressing changes within the family system, it can be difficult to make referrals based on what the child alone has to say about his family. Therefore, you need to find a way to corroborate what is happening and to what extent the child is exposed to violence or is in danger. If you suspect that the child is being abused, you should call the local protective services department and report it. Another way to get some help for the child and the family would be to ask for an evaluation of the child by a school or clinical psychologist. This evaluation should include separate interviews with the parents where questions are asked about conflict tactics used in the home. Hopefully, there will be a recommendation for individual child treatment with parent guidance. This would bring attention and support to the child and his family. Community clinics with sliding fee scales may be an option here. Another option is for the evaluator to call the local domestic violence shelter to inquire whether support or intervention groups are available to those living in the community but not residing in the shelter. These kinds of support groups have been found to be effective in reducing child aggression and in providing support and education to the mother and thus would be ideal for both the child and the mother in this family.

Ultimately, children living in homes with violence are under great stress. Your support and continued interest in this child’s well-being will do a good deal towards helping him and, hopefully, his whole family.


Maria Galano, M.S. and Sandra A. Graham-Bermann Ph.D.

Department of Psychology

University of Michigan



Division 49 Program Summary

Click here for a PDF of the 2014 Division 49 APA Program Summary.







Jill Paquin, Ph.D. and Joe Miles, Ph.D.

Convention Program Co-Chairs


From Your Editors

Tom Treadwell, Ed.D., T.E.P, CGP

Leann Terry Diederich, Ph.D.
Associate Editor

Members of the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy value groups and understand the importance of group dynamics. That is one of the reasons why attending annual conferences focused on groups can be so rewarding, as it allows us to connect with like-minded individuals. The recent American Group Psychotherapy Association’s (AGPA) meeting in Boston was exciting as many members presented challenging workshops and colloquiums. We enjoyed seeing many of you there!

We are now looking forward to APA’s Convention in Washington DC this August. The Society offers a compelling presentation schedule that is promising excellent programming for all attendee’s along with a number of programs for continuing education (CE) credits. This is an excellent way to get and stay reconnected, gain new skills and knowledge, and come together as part of a larger group to revitalize and enjoy each other’s company.

In this issue, you can read about the following:

  • President Lee Gillis is focused on helping undergraduates connect to both group psychology and group psychotherapy graduate programs. Lee developed a team of students and Early Career Psychologists (ECPs) who constructed a survey of graduate programs to ascertain the depth and breadth of their graduate studies in-group. Preliminary results suggest a very positive direction. He is planning to have a more complete report in the next TGP along with a listing those graduate programs that gave us permission to do so.
  • President Elect Dennis Kivlighan Jr. plans to focus on connecting and furthering the group experience asking Society members to video tape conversations about groups and about the Society. He urges members to consider participating in the GroupVoices project. All you need to do to participate in this GroupVoices project is to get a conversation partner and videotape your conversation.

The current issue of The Group Psychologist is our 2nd newsletter (Vol. 24, No.2) delivered as an electronic edition promoting a navigational format allowing members to traverse the pages quickly. We believe this is an excellent way to offer expanded content in an electronic format to our membership beyond the content on the Division website. Yet we are curious as to how our members have received the new version. We are entertaining the idea of sending a quick survey to members to gain feedback to assist us in developing a reader friendly newsletter.

This issue has links to individual articles, tabs across top of pages (for current issue, past issues, guidelines for authors, link to website, about TGP the Division, how to join the division, and a link to Facebook ). If you like one of the articles you read, be sure to comment, send it via email to a colleague, or “like” it on Facebook.

Articles or brief reports and news items can be e-mailed directly to Tom, Leann, Letitia, and Noranne at, as can Letters to the Editor. We encourage your feedback regarding this electronic format and want you to share your thoughts with us.


President’s Column

Lee Gillis, PhD
Lee Gillis, Ph.D.

Lee Gillis, Ph.D.

As this is the preconvention column I’d like to begin by highlighting a few important events. We hope all of you will join us for the Arthur Teicher Group Psychologist of the Year address to be given by Dr. Les Greene. That event will take place on Saturday, August 9 at noon in the Convention Center. Dr. Green joins an illustrious group of previous winners and we’re looking forward to hearing his remarks.

We also have an invited address by Dr. Ruth Ellen Josselson that will take place on Thursday, August 7 at 2:00 in the Convention Center.

  • Numerous students and other division members will be presenting posters on Thursday at 1:00 in the Convention Center. We hope you can join us in this session as well as the other skills sessions and symposia that will presented at the annual convention. Dr. Jill Paquin and Dr. Joe Miles have done an exceptional job of putting together this year’s program.
  • Least I forget, the business meeting of the Society will be Friday afternoon at 3:00 in the Convention Center and our Annual Social will take place on Saturday 6:00-9:00 in the Division’s Suite. We have been confirmed for a suite in the Grand Hyatt Hotel. As in past years, the room number of the suite will be available at the convention.

Let me say how much I appreciate the work of your elected board members, our journal and newsletter editors, and the program chairs for the convention. This is been quite an active group for the past six months. They are serving you well!

Here is a short update on several of the initiatives that are taking place this year.

  • Firstly, working in collaboration with Sean Woodland, student representative; Rosamond Smith, student member; and Dr. Leann Diederich, membership chair. A survey was sent to Directors of Training in both clinical and counseling psychology programs to ascertain the importance placed on group. So far we have received 54 responses. Sixty three percent of those responding reported to provide a group specific class. Eighty one percent of those group classes were experiential; 60% involved rotating leadership, 52% utilized peer leadership. When asked about the value placed on various therapy modalities using a 10 point scale, individual therapy received a 9.65 compared with the group with a 5.84, family with a 5.7, and couples with a 4.95. These are all preliminary numbers. We plan to have a more complete report in the next TGP along with a listing those graduate programs that gave us permission to do so.
  • Secondly, at the Midwinter meeting the Board voted to support our secretary, Dr. Jennifer Alonso, to increase our visibility on social networking sites. She was authorized to oversee someone who would make regular postings to our Facebook group in order to increase the visibility of the society, especially among early career professionals and students. Anyone who “likes” the Facebook group for Society has seen a substantial uptick in daily postings! These postings are supplemented by “Wisdom on Wednesdays”, a project of our ECP group. Current plans are to expand posting to Google+, LinkedIn, and to use our Twitter account during the convention to keep members who wish to follow us abreast of events in the moment.
  • Thirdly, many of you responded to the survey requests asking your opinion of beginning a second journal. An ad hoc committee led by Dr. Joe Powers is conducting this work. This group is examining the results of the survey and will make a recommendation to the Board at the August meeting.
  • Again, I want to encourage interested members to explore the APA communities, the membership-only website, where we are storing current and archival information about the Division, including our current Bylaws, Policy manual, minutes, and budgets. There are other features on the site that may or may not be used in the future; for now it serves as excellent cloud storage for materials that heretofore have been stored on various board members computers or in storage boxes.

I do hope everyone’s summer is going well and I look forward to seeing all of you at the Convention in Washington or online. Do not hesitate to contact me at or 478-445-0865.