President’s Column

Dennis Kivlighan, Ph.D.
Dennis Kivlighan, Ph.D.

We had a wonderfully successful 2015 APA convention in Toronto, thanks in large parts to our convention program team: Drs. Joe Miles, Jill Paquin and Norah Chapman. Also special thanks to Dr. Leann Diederich who put together a wonderful presidential reception taking over from our longtime hosts Dr. Kathy and John Ritter. My personal highlights from the convention were Dr. Zipora Shechtman’s Arthur Teicher Group Psychologist of the Year address, Dr. Molyn Leszcz’s invited address and our first ever Fellows addresses given by Drs. Rex Stockton, Andy Horne and Don Forsythe.

For those of you who missed my presidential address (with apologies to those who already heard it) I want to summarize some of the points I made in my address: Are We the Division of Group Psychology AND Group Psychotherapy or the Division of Group Psychology OR Group Psychotherapy? One way to begin to answer this question is to look at some of the statistics about the division.

Who are we? Seventy-two percent of the members of Division 49 are health service providers, therefore the division membership skews toward Group Psychotherapy. With the current round of Fellowship elections, Division 49 has 70 Fellows with, 82% of these fellows being primarily identified with Group Psychotherapy. So again the Fellows skew toward the Group Psychotherapy. The division has elected 26 presidents through 2017, of these 88% are identified with Group Psychotherapy. Again a tilt toward the Group Psychotherapy aspect of the division.

Who do we recognize? The division has 23 Arthur Teicher Group Psychologist of the Year awardees, of these 74% represent the Group Psychology aspect of the division. Therefore, our lifetime achievement award mirrors the membership proportion of the division and can be consider as perhaps balanced between the Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy aspects of the division.   Finally, there have been 22 Moreland Dissertation award winners and 100% of these represent Group Psychology.

So: Are we the Division of Group Psychology AND Group Psychotherapy or are we the Division of Group Psychology OR Group Psychotherapy? I think that we have work to do to make sure that we are the Division of Group Psychology AND Group Psychotherapy. This is important work because our strength, as a Society is the integration of basic and applied understandings of group. In my opinion this integration has to start with the leadership of the Society. Therefore, I think we need to explore new ways of constituting our Society leadership. For example, Division 29 (Psychotherapy) has several domains (Social Justice & Public Policy, Science & Scholarship, Professional Practice, Professional Practice, Membership, Education & Training, Early Career and Diversity) and board members are elected to represent these different domains. Using domains, Division 29 assures that various interests will be represented at the table. We may want to consider a similar arrangements to make sure that specific interests are represented in Division 49’s Board.