We are happy to announce that our second short-term mentoring group, exclusively for Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy members, will be starting in May. Our next mentor is Dr. Joseph Powers.
About Dr. Powers
Dr. Powers, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is presently the Director of Group Psychotherapy at McLean Hospital, a position that he has held since 2001 when the hospital called upon him to develop the infra-structure for eight inpatient group programs and several residential and partial programs. As part of that process, he leads an Excellent Group Training Program four times a year, 16 hours a module, for leadership skill development in hospital-based group programs, as well as selective group training on inpatient units for residents and interns. Dr. Powers has led many inpatient and partial hospital groups with multiple diagnostic issues, as well as long term therapy groups in his private practice. Please read his attached bio for a more detailed description of Dr. Powers (including his serving as a consultant for a hurling team in Ireland to help improve communication and teamwork).
Details of the Group
1. The group will meet for 6 sessions for one hour each [note the different times due to scheduling constraints]: Wednesday, May 4th at 2 pm (EDT), Wednesday May 18th at 11 am (EDT) , Wednesday, June 1st at 2 pm (EDT), Wednesday, June 15th at 2 pm (EDT), Wednesday, June 29th at 11 am (EDT), Wednesday, July 13 at 11 am (EDT).
2. You must be able to attend at least 5 of the 6 mentoring sessions.
3. We will be using video conferencing technology. You need broadband wired or wireless internet, webcam, and speakers/microphone (if not built into the webcam). Technological support will be offered during the sessions.
4. A group of mentees will be selected from the first responses back to us (email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).
I’m sure APA members are well aware of the ongoing controversy surrounding the Hoffman team’s investigation into whether APA relaxed its ethical standards as they apply to psychologists involved in abusive interrogations. Much has been written, and no doubt will continue to be written, about the report, and 8 months on emotions continue to run high among both those who believe psychology should have a strict no-involvement policy with regard to abusive interrogation, and those who feel that, if such approaches are going to be used by the government, a mental health professional should be present to monitor the proceedings. My intent here is not to discuss the report or my views on it. Rather, it is to look at the collateral damage from the incident and how that damage is reverberating into the groups world.
I had some early, semi-personal exposure to its effects. James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the psychologists who contracted with the CIA to advise on interrogation tactics, were practitioners in Spokane, Washington, a little more than an hour from my home campus of Washington State University and where WSU’s health sciences campus is located. Formerly educators at the Air Force survival school at Fairchild AFB in Spokane who taught pilots how to resist harsh interrogation tactics, about 10 years ago they began consulting on how to defeat the very resistance techniques they were teaching. When news of the controversy broke, my department chair received a number of calls from news organizations assuming that Mitchell and Jessen had some kind of connection to our department. While some of the callers made polite inquiries and excused themselves when my chair said that she did not know who Mitchell and Jessen are, others were provocative: One asked her why Mitchell and Jessen’s actions were supported by the clinical psychological community in Spokane (they weren’t); another wanted to know if Mitchell and Jessen had partnered with our Experimental faculty to conduct tests of interrogation techniques (no—again, we don’t know them, and in any event we wouldn’t conduct such research); yet another wanted a list of our Clinical graduate students who had done internships with their consulting firm (none—once again…). Luckily nothing blossomed from these questions, but for a brief period we were braced for a news story that speculated on the strength of Mitchell and Jessen’s WSU connections.
Our discipline is feeling similar types of collateral effects. Many articles and commentaries, written by experts outside of psychology, appeared in the wake of the Hoffman Report, to take us to task as a sham science that pursues sensationalist research questions with shoddy methodology, and purports to better the lives of citizens by applying flavor-of-the-week therapies that are not grounded in reality, with all of us having a shared enjoyment of human suffering, because if humans aren’t in anguish, psychologists won’t have jobs. Some have gone so far as to argue that APA’s apparent easing of its ethical standards was driven by a desperate desire to gain credibility as a discipline with value. While our first reaction might be to not dignify such statements with a response, I think this is a bad strategy. A consistent finding in social psychology is that people equate silence with consent, so by not responding, we run the risk of leading people to think that yes, we have come to the realization that we are charlatans. We need to work hard to explain to the public that our work is careful, empirically based, and oriented toward resolution, not prolonging, of human problems.
Some have reserved special comments for those of us who work with groups. We are “touchy-feely.” We see no value in privacy, because when we conduct a group therapy session, we expect people to share everything with everybody, and scold them when they do not. Research on group processes is all about subjecting people to intense peer pressure to do things they do not want to do, agree with things they actually do not like, and make them feel incompetent when they see that they cannot perform as well as others. So while we all suffer from the general misperception of psychology, those of us who work with groups have an extra need to share our work, our outlook, and our goals.
The reactions that I have briefly reviewed for you (and rest assured there are many, many more than I have noted here—do an online search of “psychology sham science” and see what you turn up) are not coming from crackpots. They are appearing in respectable media and forums connected to other disciplines. This phenomenon is not new. For example, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman famously referred to psychology as a cargo-cult science in his 1974 Caltech commencement address. This was based on his visits to a conditioning lab when he was at Cornell in the 1940’s, and his insight that the researchers were overlooking an obvious alternate explanation for how the rats were able to learn the maze. But such comments have historically been confined within small subgroups. Now we are seeing questioning of the value of psychology at a breadth that I have not experienced in my years in the field.
I noted in one of my president-elect columns of last year that I have a strong interest in outreach and connection. Then I was referring to connecting Division 49 to other divisions within APA that share interest in group processes. We still need to do this, and we have efforts underway, as you will see when you attend the division meetings this August. But I think we also need to go beyond this, and begin working with other disciplines to show them what we do, how we do it, and how we add value to the human enterprise. In my next column, I will talk about how such an initiative might be undertaken.
Group psychotherapy has been an important aspect of my career from its earliest beginnings. For several decades I have watched the field of group psychotherapy grow and become a rich service delivery modality. When I began studying and practicing group psychotherapy the literature was not very clear on many aspects of group processes. Many studies were reporting on experiences with very few groups—several with single group designs. Most of the instruments used to measure constructs were created for the studies without sufficient attention to validity or reliability. My experience was that I was entering (and committed to) a field that was still in its adolescence. I was the group coordinator at a large college counseling center for several years and frequently felt that I was trying to advocate for legitimacy for our group offerings. As time passed, it became clearer that groups were adding significant benefit to our clinical services.
For the last decade and a half I have been part of a very active group psychotherapy research team. The literature has become increasingly rigorous, clear, and cohesive. Studies with larger sample sizes, improvements in statistical methods, greater attention to psychometrics, use of standardized measures, and more replications, have all contributed to more compelling evidence for the effectiveness and efficiency of group psychotherapy.
As I have taught beginning psychologists about group psychotherapy theories, principles, and practices, I have witnessed some of them catch the “Group Bug” and then go on to become strong advocates of group psychotherapy themselves. These have been some very rewarding times in my professional life.
In contrast, I have been somewhat saddened in more recent years as some training programs sacrifice their group courses in favor of other offerings. I have felt discouraged when insurers are unwilling to compensate for group psychotherapy at rates that are comparable to other services. Frustration has followed when other providers are hesitant to refer clients to needed group services and are uninterested in learning what groups can offer. In addition, administrators’ continued dismissals of requests for legitimacy for group programs have also been disappointing. The most recent denial of a petition for specialty status for Group Psychology by CRSPPP (Commission for the Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology) was a blow to my positive expectations for the field. I began to feel like I did in my early career—the fear that I might not be hired in the jobs I wanted, that I had chosen a dead-end career that was in decline, and that I was destined to barely scrape by and to feel unsatisfied in my work. However, my career has gone better than I could have ever dreamed in spite of cloudy times and disappointments. I now recognize those doubtful times as developmentally important to help me see beyond the struggles of this year or this decade and to remain committed to what I value.
As a member of the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists and also the Group Specialty Council which is preparing the next petition for specialty status with CRSPPP, I have been able to see more of what is happening in the field. I am more optimistic than ever about the future of group psychotherapy. I am aware of many simultaneous efforts that have potential to propel group psychotherapy into fitting prominence. I am tempering my optimism with my memory that it took much work and several setbacks for my own career to develop. At the same time, my optimism is fueled by confidence that obstacles do not define outcomes. I see great things in our future, and I am pleased to be associated with all of you as we move forward.
As I was driving through a nearby town recently, I saw a billboard that caught my eye. It featured three pairs of muddy boots, with the quote “You’ll need these, it’s election time”. While it made me chuckle (with an accompanying grimace for the truth it reflected in this season’s election), it also made me curious. Is “mudslinging” a more recent occurrence in our electoral history?
When I consulted our modern encyclopedia (Wikipedia, of course!) I found the following definition of mudslinging, “trying to win an advantage by referring to negative aspects of an opponent rather than emphasizing one’s own positive attributes or preferred policies” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_campaigning). Colloquially known as “mudslinging”, an early example of negative campaigning comes from the presidential election of 1828. In the race between Andrew Jackson and the incumbent President John Adams, numerous negative campaigning tactics were used, including attacking Jackson’s marriage and his propensity for dueling! Contrary to my idealistic perspective of our history, apparently mudslinging has a long legacy in our elections.
Fortunately, we are part of an organization whose candidates don’t need to resort to negative campaigning. As you’ll read in this issue, it’s election time for the Society, as we are looking for a President-elect, Secretary, Member-at-Large, Student Representative, and Council Representative. Each nominee for these positions has prepared a brief candidate statement so you can learn a bit more about who they are. We urge you to become an educated voter by investigating the candidates, and if you have questions, please reach out to them to get more details about their visions for participating in the leadership for our Society.
Also in this issue, you can learn more about Scholarships for students to attend the Annual Convention in Denver, CO, E-mail application materials to email@example.com and a Virtual Learning Hour hosted by the Early Career Psychologist Task Force on Women in Leadership. Please RSVP for access to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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, Letitia, and Leann at email@example.com, as can Letters to the Editor.
I am pleased to run for Secretary of the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy. I have had a many experiences that have fueled my excitement about the Society, and my desire to pursue a leadership position. I served as Co-Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for Early Career Psychologists, helping offer conference calls designed to share expertise, foster relationships across diverse group interests, and connect ECPs to others in later career stages. I also serve on the Society’s Diversity Committee, and have helped develop diversity-related programming at recent Conventions.
I served as Program Co-Chair and Chair for the 2014 and 2015 APA Conventions, respectively. As Chair, I solicited, reviewed, and scheduled regular programming, while developing relationships and programming across divisions through APA’s Collaborative Programming initiative. This helped highlight the potential for collaborations across many divisions, and the importance of groups across all of psychology. These positions required enthusiasm, attention to detail, and a passion for group work, which I would also bring to the position of Secretary.
Groups are also at the heart of my research and teaching. My primary interest is the process and outcome of intergroup dialogue, a group intervention that brings together individuals from social identity groups with a history of tension between them for sustained, face-to-face communication. This work gives me a strong appreciation for the power of groups, and the work of the Society.
The Society is my professional home. I am passionate about groups, and dedicated to the Society. I would be honored to share this passion and dedication as Secretary. Thank you for your consideration.
Groups: comforting, thought provoking, intimidating, powerful, wondrous, and complex. Groups fascinate me. This led to my specialty in groups during graduate school and I have continued a passion for groups in my career. As I’ve transitioned from being a staff psychologist and Group Therapy Coordinator at Pennsylvania State University’s counseling center, to working independently in private practice, groups have remained a specialty of mine.
My knowledge and love for groups has been fostered through my involvement in the Society. In December 2015 I completed a rotation as Member-at-Large on the Board. In my time working with the Board over the past 10 years, I have served as Chair of the Student Committee, Membership Chair, and currently Co-Chair of the Early Career Psychologist Task Force. I am currently the Associate Editor of The Group Psychologist and liaison to APA’s Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice. As you can see, I’ve worn many hats with the Society and have come to know it well.
Continuing to serve the needs of Early Career Psychologists (ECPs) would be my focus as President-elect. Our Society’s future is in our students and ECPS and those are the connections I want to nurture. Several recent initiatives I have worked on with the ECP Task Force are evidence of this, including our popular conference calls, short-term mentoring groups, and a newly develop Webinar Series that is coming up.
I have a strong passion to serve the Society and the broader field of group psychology and group psychotherapy. My professional home has been firmly housed in the group world since the beginning of my graduate study with Dr. Rex Stockton. I can’t think of a better way to integrate my passion for groups and my dedication to service than through this Society. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments about my candidacy for this position, at Leann.Diederich@gmail.com.
I am deeply honored to be nominated to run for president of APA Division 49, Society for Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy. I have been a member of the Society for a number of years and have always felt a close connection with the Division and its membership. Most recently, I was an Associate Editor of Group Dynamics and will be editing a special issue on statistical methods in group psychology and psychotherapy this coming year. I have been a group therapist for over 30 years, and I have been an active group researcher for the past 15 years. I am proud of the fact that I was a full time group practitioner well before becoming a researcher, as I think it gives me a unique perspective on researching groups. My practice is primarily focused on group treatment of eating disorders, especially binge-eating disorder. I supervise residents in psychology and psychiatry in group work, and I continue to research new approaches to group treatments. If elected president I would like to focus on supporting students within the Division, including efforts to increase student membership through greater visibility of trainees at the convention by providing small awards, recognitions, and scholarships. In keeping with my dual identity as a clinician-researcher I would like to find ways to increase a dialogue between group practitioners and group researchers so that practice is more consistently influenced by the evidence, and so that research is more specifically informed by the experiences of practitioners and clients.
Dr. Bonner is currently a professor of management at the University of Utah in the David Eccles School of Business. Prior to his current position, he served as an assistant professor of psychology at Williams College.
I am honored to have the potential opportunity to serve Division 49 of the APA in the role of secretary. I am committed to doing my utmost to support our division and the association more broadly. I served as Associate Editor of the division’s journal, Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, for a one-year term that lasted five years (2010-2015). It was through this activity that I was introduced to the true breadth of research related to “Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy,” which spans methodologies and paradigms, but, at its core, has a unifying curiosity about the most central question of social psychology: how does the group affect the individual? This research spans from the lab to the sports field and from the clinical office to the working organization. I am personally a member of the “small groups research” academic community, publishing in our journal, Group Dynamics, as well as other outlets including APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. If given the opportunity, I will work to preserve the strong interdisciplinary focus of Division 49.
Serving on the Council of Representatives has been an eye-opening experience. Three years is barely enough time to understand what is going on. Hard-working council members debate tough issues, based on lengthy background reports, insight into the finer points of the argument, strategic planning to represent ones constituency, and presence of mind to stand at the microphone and talk to a packed room of representatives, staff members, and often the press. If you’ll have me for a second term I would be honored.
It is my great honor to accept the Division’s nomination for APA Council of Representatives. I have had the privilege of serving as the Division’s Secretary since 2014. This has afforded me the opportunity to learn about the intricacies and governance of APA, as well as the valuable mission of Division 49 and its members. The field of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy is incredibly important given its impact on so many aspects of daily life, societal norms and interpersonal dynamics. Being an advocate for and casting my votes with the needs and interest of the Division and its members would be my priority. I am passionate about and committed to the Division, and look forward to the opportunity to continue my service here. I am a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Florida where my primary role includes coordinating the 30+ therapy groups run each semester through the Counseling and Wellness Center. Group Therapy is my passion and I enjoy teaching, supervising and presenting yearly at APA and AGPA in this area.