Committee Reports

Group as a Specialty

Nina Brown, Ed.D.
Nina Brown, Ed.D.

The Group Specialty Council continues to pursue recognition of group as a specialty in psychology training programs. The Council is composed of national organizations who have an interest in the education and training of group therapists/psychotherapists, in promoting the use and visibility of the effectiveness for group treatment, encouraging research on group factors that promote group members’ healing, growth and development, in describing the competencies for group leaders, and in fostering the recognition that specialized training is needed for professional and ethical practice and education by psychologists. The organizations most directly involved in this endeavor are The Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy (APA Division 49), The American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA), The American Board of Group Psychology (ABGP), and the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists (IBCGP), which is part of AGPA.

When the 2014 submission of a petition for recognition of group as a specialty by the Council for Recognition of Specialists and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology (CRSPPP) was rejected in 2015, the Council reviewed the rationale provided by CRSPPP and decided to reapply in 2016 to be considered by them in 2017. This decision was made in part because that organization proscribes that there must be a year before there is a resubmission unless policy or procedure was not followed. The resubmission process is well underway thanks to the Boards of three members of the Group Specialty Council; The Society, ABPP, and AGPA; and a revised petition will be completed and resubmitted this fall. As part of the resubmission, the revised petition will be posted by CRSPPP for public comment and it is vital that our members take advantage of this opportunity to express their opinions about the viability and need for group as a specialty in psychology doctoral, internship, and post-doctoral training programs. Members will be notified via listserv when the petition is posted.

One of the difficulties in writing such a petition is the necessity that considerable time and effort be expended in gathering the materials and presenting the information to answer each of the 12 criteria. This project is analogous to preparing an accreditation report in the depth and breadth of the information required. Assistance is being provided by the Boards of The Society, AGPA and ABGP to fund a professional writer to expedite the task. The group Specialty Council developed and circulated a RFP, screened applicants and conducted interviews. They received many responses from well qualified people, and after extensive interviews with applicants and Council consultations, a writer was selected, Staci Smith. Among her many achievements we noted that she had comprehensive experience with grants research strategy and writing, experience with accreditation submissions and approval, was well versed on current behavioral and mental health research having developed and implemented numerous evidence-based programs in this area, and was able to document advanced skills with research, analysis, and creative narrative development.   She has begun the process for planning, organizing and writing the revised petition.

Although obtaining the writer was an important step and she will do much to help in the planning, organizing and writing the material, there are other tasks where informed input from group professionals is essential and volunteers are needed to accomplish these tasks. Included in these tasks are the development of Practice Guidelines led by Robert Gleave President-Elect of the Society, a search for the minimum number of model doctoral, internship and post-doctoral programs and obtaining the information needed to answer that criterion on the petition, development of competencies and the evaluation processes for these, developing processes and surveys to document the public’s need for group as a specialty, and developing group specialty education and training guidelines. Please let me know if you are willing to participate in any or all of these tasks.

Members of the Group Specialty council will be assisting the writer with development and review of responses to the petition’s twelve criterions. Specific consultants to the writer are Sally Barlow and Les Greene. Please join us in preparing the resubmission.