Presidents Column

Lee Gillis, Ph.D.
Lee Gillis, Ph.D.

It is so great to be part of a good group.  That describes our Society – a functioning group.  This year’s convention demonstrated how well we function from the work of Drs Jill Paquin and Joe Miles in crafting an excellent program that attracted multiple APA attendees to hear papers, experience skill sessions and observe well crafted posters.  We ended the convention with one of our signature institution, our annual social event hosted by Kathy and John Ritter.  We are so thankful for their service to the Society and hosting all these years.

Your Board has been a functioning group too.  We have not been afraid to debate issues important to members – to gather data – to make recommendations and to explore ways to invest our resources in ways that will benefit the Society in the long run.

Below I have highlighted the initiatives of my presidential year with an update on progress.  None of these initiatives could have been accomplished without the involvement of your Board members as well as committee chairs and their respective members.

Theme Connecting to the group experience
Initiatives for 2014 November 14 Update
Face of society
  • Embrace and utilize social networking connections to promote our publications, website and increase our visibility within APA and beyond
  • With Board approval and exceptional leadership of Secretary Dr. Jen Alonso, Social networking on Face book, Google+, and Linked In has increased astronomically
  • Connect the people who publish in the Journal with those who present at the Convention and write for the Newsletter – be relevant to both psychology and psychotherapy.
  • Promote ECPs everywhere throughout the Division.
  • Help undergraduates connect to group psychology & group psychotherapy graduate programs
  • In progress as we consider proposals from two groups on who will publish Group Dynamics for the next ten years.  Ongoing discussions on the need for and the feasibility of a second journal focused on group practice
  • Have appointed ECPs to APA committees where possible: Dr. Paquin to Committee on Women in Psychology and Dr. Diederich as liaison to the Board of Professional Affairs
  • Finding ways to communicate to undergraduate psychology majors and those who teach them on opportunities for studying and practicing group psychology and group psychotherapy.
Member benefits
  • Google+ Hangouts, Face book Group, Topic based phone discussions, Newsletter, Journal, APA Communities – places to share idea and connect with like-minded professionals.
  • Successes attributed to Secretary Dr. Alonso, TGP editor Dr. Treadwell, Membership Director Dr. Diederich, and Program Chairs Dr. Paquin & Dr. Miles
  • Recognition of Board members for outstanding service
  • Ensure that Policy manual is an accurate representation of what we do and when we do it; and that the manual is connected to the Bylaws.
  • In progress needing support from all board members
  • Making more connections among Divisions within APA; Being involved on APA committees that matter to our members.
  • Success attributed to Program chairs Drs Palquin and Miles as well as Drs Diederich and Paquin


In my Presidential address I discussed how APA Undergraduate Guidelines  offer learning objectives that focus on teamwork.  I issued a call for all of us to help those who teach undergraduates understand the need for helping groups establish norms and boundaries of acceptable behavior.  We are the experts here and have much to offer our colleagues who might not understand the power of a small group experience.  We know that power can be very positive in a well functioning group and destructive when a group falls into negative behaviors.  Too often I hear from my student’s horror stories of group experiences run amuck.  Many of these bad experiences could have been avoided had the professors set up some basic guidelines for operating in a group.  Help your colleagues understand how effective groups can be.

In the discussion following the address, many shared how other majors and programs outside of psychology were seeking group classes for their students.  We heard examples of pharmacy students, information technology students, engineering students, and medical students all in need of learning what many of us teach – good group skills.  Look for opportunities in your circles of influence to offer group skills where needed.

Graduate training in group psychology and psychotherapy seems to be waning and this is a sad state of affairs.  Many of us know that group is not mentioned in APA’s Guidelines And Principles For Accreditation Of Programs In Professional Psychology.  We know what is not required is often not taught.  I urge members to work towards including group as an area of training for all professional psychologists.  We hear too often that doctoral students graduate with very little group training but are expected to conduct group sessions in their post-doctoral employment.  From the survey of Directors of Training, we know that group training is not emphasized to the same extent as individual.

We must rally our voices and support group training.  To that end, I want to applaud Dr. Nina Brown for her work on having Group recognized as a specialty.  We encourage and support Dr. Brown and the cross association team she has engaged to carry on with this important work.

Finally to the wonderful Board and supporting cast that I have had the pleasure of working with – I am truly grateful.  Drs Maria Riva, Dennis Kivlighan, Rebecca MacNair-Semands, Jennifer Alonso, Leanne Diederich, Rex Stockton, Joe Powers, and John Dagley – Thank you!  To Tom Treadwell, David Marcus, Cheri Marmaroush, Eric Chen, Jeanne Steffen, Jill Paquin, and Joe Miles – the Society could not have done this without you.

Thank you for a year I will not forget.  I pass the gavel in confidence to Dennis Kivlighan who has some grand plans.