President-Elect Column

Dennnis M. Kivlighan , Jr., Ph.D.
Dennnis M. Kivlighan , Jr., Ph.D.

Dennis M. Kivlighan, Jr., Ph.D.

Recognizing Excellence

As I write this column I am reflecting on the APA convention where we again met to conduct the business of our society. As always it was a productive, fun and thought provoking meeting. Once again Dr. Lee Gillis ran a wonderful meeting with just the right balance of attention to the task and socio-emotional aspects of our group process. THANK YOU LEE! When I write my next column I will have assumed the reins from Lee and I hope we will be able to work as effectively as under his leadership. I am also reflecting on the content of the convention and the wonderful program put together by Drs. Jill Paquin and Joe Miles. We had a broad diversity of informative and interesting programs and posters. THANK YOU JILL and JOE! For those of you not at the convention, you missed a stimulating presentation by Dr. Les Greene, the recipient of the Arthur Teicher Group Psychologist of the Year award. Les challenged us by giving us his list of group therapy research that he would not like to see any more (thank goodness I did not make this list) and group therapy research he would like to see more. I found his second list to be a great blueprint for the next generation of group therapy research. THANK YOU LES! As always, however, my favorite part of the convention was the reception in the president’s suite. It is always a great time to catch up with old friends and acquaintances and to get to know new people. For me our social hour always turns a big, and at time overwhelming professional meeting, into an intimate and connected gathering. As Lee Gillis likes to say, when he first came to the Division 49 reception at APA , he knew that he had “found his people”. Most of you know that for a number of years Kathy and John Ritter have coordinated and hosted the reception for the division. This was Kathy and John’s last year of coordinating our signature event and they will be greatly missed. An especially big THANK YOU TO KATHY AND JOHN!!!!

In my last column I asked people to consider recording an interviewed modeled after the StoryCorps segment on National Public Radio, describing their experiences with group, an important group mentor or with the Division. I know that during the APA convention several people who worked with and were mentored by Jack Corazzini. I hope that more of you will also decide to record an interview for our archives. In the rest of the column I want to talk about a second initiative that I hope launch next year.

In developing a new group initiative or advising a student about graduate study we may encounter questions like: “I am the new group coordinator at my counseling center; which counseling center has an exemplary group therapy training program that I can look to for a model?” “I am fascinated by how group work and sometimes do not work, which graduate program will help me learn more about groups?” These and other similar questions highlight the importance of exemplars. We all benefit when we can point to and model after programs of acknowledged excellence. A second initiative that I want the board to consider is to a develop recognition that can highlight exemplars of good training in group psychology and group psychotherapy.

I think that a major role of the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy is to encourage and recognize excellence in group psychology and group psychotherapy training and education. Therefore, during our midwinter meeting I will ask the board to consider creating three Excellence in Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Training and Education Awards: one award to recognize an academic program that provides exemplary training in group psychology, another to recognize an academic program that provides exemplary training in group psychotherapy, and a third award to recognize an internship program that provides exemplary training in group psychotherapy.

The awards that I envision would be modeled after two successful and important programs developed by the American Psychological Association to promote the use of psychological science by schools and to recognize. The Golden Psi Award, which comes with a $1,000 prize, recognizes schools that “do an exceptional job of using psychological science to help students grow and learn.” The Suinn Minority Achievement Program Award is presented “to a program that has demonstrated excellence in the recruitment, retention and graduation of ethnic minority students.” Both of these awards recognize excellence AND they also are designed to encourage schools to make more use of psychological science or to encourage programs to make an “overall commitment to cultural diversity in all phases of departmental activity.”

In the similar manner the Excellence in Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Training and Education Awards would recognize excellence in these areas AND hopefully encourage programs and internships to increase their attention to training and education in group psychology and group psychotherapy.

Jean Keim had the foresight to establish a foundation fund as her presidential initiative. One of the expressed purposes of this fund was to be able to fund awards sponsored by the society. When our fund is fully endowed one possible use of the revenue would be awards like the Excellence in Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Training and Education Awards. The foundation fund is a great way to support our division please consider contributing to this fund.

I would love to hear your thoughts and reactions about this potential award program that could be sponsored by the division. You can contact me at