Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

Jeanne Steffen, Ph.D.
Jeanne Steffen, Ph.D.

Summary: Awarding of the 2016 Diversity Award, election of a new chair(s), and summary of the diversity committee activities at APA

After three years as the chair of the diversity committee, it is time for me to pass the baton and introduce new energy and leadership to our division.   Speaking on behalf of the diversity committee, we are very excited to welcome Dr. Joe Miles as the new chair.  He will be starting a three year term with some help due to his transitioning from another division role.  Dr. Eric Chen will be joining Dr. Miles as co-chair for the committee.  Thus, technically and particularly for the first year, the diversity committee will benefit from dual leadership.  As is typical for the issue of the Group Psychologist that comes out after the American Psychological Association Annual Convention, the focus of the diversity column is on the Diversity Committee’s activities at APA, as well as goals for the upcoming year.  One of the major activities we are involved in annually is to recognize those colleagues who are instrumental in promoting diversity informed group psychology and psychotherapy practices.  The Diversity Award is intended to formally honor individuals who have made significant contributions to group psychology practice, research, service, and/or mentoring, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity.

This year we recognized Dr. Kathryn Norsworthy as our Diversity Award recipient for 2016-17.  Dr. Norsworthy, a Professor in the Counseling program at Rollins College in Winter Park Florida, has consistently been recognized as an advocate for social justice and for using her group skills to develop collaborative programs nationally and internationally. Her work in the US has focused on providing mental health programs for migrants and on being a civil rights activist for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. She has established programs for persons with HIV/AIDS and victims of rape, incest, and other forms of sexual trauma. Her international work has included providing groups for women in Burma, co-editing the International Handbook of Cross Cultural Counseling: Assumptions and Practices Worldwide, and speaking as a representative to an international conference addressing mental health concerns of the world’s poorest people—a conference which was sponsored by the World Health Organization.  Dr. Norsworthy has been recognized by the Society of Counseling Psychology, the Division of International Psychology, the Division of Peace Psychology, the Counselors for Social Justice, and the Association for Specialists in Group Work.  She is clearly committed to group research and practice and her work has consistently focused on the intersection of social justice and group work.

Dr. Norsworthy’s professional contributions in the area of multicultural group counseling and psychotherapy practice, research, service, and training clearly identified her as an ideal candidate to receive the Diversity Award this year.  We are honored to have Dr. Norsworthy represent our profession and greatly value her contributions to promote further understanding and clinical effectiveness in working with diverse populations.  Thank you, Dr. Norsworthy, for your personal and professional contributions to our profession and to our communities!

Other activities at the APA convention this year included focusing on involving the student members of our committee in suite programming.  This activity was related to a 2015-16 goal on increasing student involvement in committee work.  Regarding our goals for 2016-17, we met in Denver to discuss developing a student award in the near future.  We also want to focus on recruitment, with the goal of increasing the number of students and professional members across different disciplines and add international members to our committee.  Finally, we want to focus on providing accessible resources for culturally sensitive and multiculturally competent group practice to our community of mental health providers.

As always, the members of the diversity committee invite you to notice those colleagues around you who are working to engage others, who are writing, mentoring, teaching and researching multicultural issues in group work and making contributions to group psychology practice, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity.  We want to recognize these outstanding individuals—individuals such as Dr. Norsworthy—and we invite you to nominate such individuals for the 2017-18 diversity award by contacting us.  In addition, as the outgoing chair of the Diversity Committee, I want to encourage you all to contact the diversity committee regarding a few other issues in particular.  First, let us know what topics you would like Dr. Miles to cover in the diversity columns over the next several years.  Secondly, if you would like to suggest a guest columnist, please do so.  We have been discussing the idea of asking past Diversity Award recipients to write a column or two.  Lastly, we encourage Division 49 members to become active in the diversity committee this year.  Any interested members please contact us.  Our activities and goals keep in mind our original focus of promoting the inclusion and visibility of underrepresented populations in our communities across the globe through group psychology and psychotherapy practices.

The contact information for Joe Miles is:  I have enjoyed very much reaching out to all of the members of our Division and others who have read the Group Psychologist over the years.