Jeanne Bulgin Steffen, PhD
The Diversity Committee, founded as a subcommittee under the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy in 2007, was created with the overarching goal of promoting the inclusion and visibility of underrepresented populations in the Division. This year, Dr. Eric Chen completed his third year term as Chair of the Diversity Committee in December 2013, and yours truly was asked to serve as new Chair of the Diversity Committee for January 2014-December 2016. I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Chen for his commitment and work throughout the past three years and express how excited and honored I am to continue to work with him and the rest of the committee to advance our goals in 2014 and in the coming years. In this column, I would like to focus on summarizing our major activities for 2013 related to our overarching goal mentioned previously.
One of the major activities related to our overarching goal is to formally honor those individuals who make significant contributions to group psychology practice, research, service, and/or mentoring, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity. Each year we encourage nominations from the Division for the Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Award, which is presented at the Annual APA Convention. Dr. Clayton P. Alderfer was recognized as the 2013 recipient of this award at the business meeting of Division 49 in Honolulu, Hawaii in August. Dr. Alderfer has had a prolific career in organizational psychology, producing more than 100 published articles and four books over the years, of which more than half pertain to intergroup relations. His empirical work addresses intergroup relations among intersecting identities (e.g., race, gender, ethnicity, generation) using a number of methodology. Dr. Alderfer has provided interventions to change race relations within various organizations through the use of race and gender based consulting teams, and has also provided service and mentoring through his academic positions at Yale University and Rutgers University. The Committee concluded that Dr. Alderfer is highly deserving of the Diversity Award from Division 49 as he has made outstanding contributions within the overall field of group psychology and especially in promoting understanding and respect for diversity. Congratulations, Dr. Alderfer, and thank you for your contributions to the field!
At the 2013 APA convention, the Diversity Committee engaged in another important activity related to our overarching goal, that of providing education and encouraging diversity related conversations among our colleagues and ourselves in order to increase awareness, knowledge and skills related to multicultural competence. In this case, the educational activity was a symposium, which was contextually related to Hawaii, where the 2013 APA convention was held, and closely aligned with Division 49’s conference theme of “Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Around the World: Research and Practice.” It consisted of four paper presentations aimed to highlight the complex process of “border crossing,” giving special attention to the interplay of multicultural competence and social justice within the context of group counseling. Topics included: (a) “Themes on Multiculturalism and Social Justice in Group Counseling Research” by Jill D. Paquin and Joseph R. Miles; (b) “Multicultural Groups and Social Justice Issues with Transgender Native Hawaiians” by Rick Trammel and Patrick K. Kamakawiwo‘ole; (c) “Ethical and Legal Considerations in Group Counseling for Undocumented Immigrants” by Allyson Regis, Kourtney Bennett and Eric C. Chen; and (d) “Group Counseling with Undocumented College Students: Supports and Barriers” by Gary Dillon, Jill Huang, and Eric C. Chen. Although this activity was held on an early Saturday morning, more than 30 individuals participated in the symposium.
As the chair of the Diversity Committee, I also have a special opportunity to provide education and encourage conversations to increase multicultural competency and spark interest in diversity related topics through this column. I hope I can engage my fellow group psychologists and psychotherapists on path to increase their competence and confidence by providing intriguing topics and talking points over the next few years. After all, as group psychologists we are especially poised for multicultural competence since we, in essence, work within the multicultural social microcosms of our own psychotherapy groups and thus have the opportunity to be exposed to and to participate in various interplays of intersecting identities—hopefully with the outcome of improving intrapersonal and interpersonal health and the overall health of our family, community, nation and international systems. I welcome comments, concerns and requests for various topics. In addition, if you are interested in participating in the Diversity Committee, we are currently welcoming new members. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.