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President’s Column

Giorgio A. Tasca, Ph.D.
Giorgio A. Tasca, Ph.D.

President’s Column

Recently Division 49 participated in a resubmission of a petition to the Education Directorate of the APA Commission for the Recognition of Specialities and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology (CRSPPP) to have Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy receive designation as a specialty. This is a joint effort of your Division, the American Group Psychotherapy Association, the American Board of Group Psychology, the American Academy of Group Psychology, and the International Board of Certification of Group Psychotherapists. Together, these organizations developed the Group Specialty Council to prepare the petition. Members of the Division 49 Board did an outstanding job and have contributed to the petition, including: Sally Barlow, Martyn Whittingham, and Nina Brown. The petition is an impressive 500-page document outlining a cogent argument for the unique aspects of group work and why specialty designation is important. Anyone can see the document and comment – and we certainly encourage our members to do so at: http://apaoutside.apa.org/EducCSS/public/.

Below are my comments on the petition on behalf of our division.

On behalf of the Society for Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy (Division 49 of the American Psychological Association) I endorse this Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Specialty Petition in the strongest possible terms. Increasingly, group work is playing an important role in the delivery of health and mental health care in a variety of organizations. Many settings (health care, education, counseling, workplaces) rely on group work to deliver effective and timely interventions, including psychoeducation and psychotherapy. The evidence is mounting that group psychotherapy works for a variety of disorders, it is as effective as individual therapy, and so it is cost effective. In 2017 alone there were 17 meta-analyses of group work, group factors, or group psychotherapy. Despite this evidence, it would be a mistake to assume that a practitioner who is solely trained as an individual therapist, for example, can effectively transfer their skills to a group setting. There is important overlap between knowledge of individuals and knowledge of groups, such as the role of individual psychopathology in treatment, for example. However, it is well known that groups have unique properties that diverge significantly from individual contexts. The multiple interaction networks that develop between individuals over time represent emergent properties of groups that impact outcomes, and these emergent properties cannot be predicted from knowing about the individuals alone. And so practitioners require specific skills and knowledge to manage the complexities that come with group work. These complexities are now reflected in and studied in the research literature. Novel methods of multilevel statistical modeling, for example, are opening up venues of new knowledge and scholarship about the unique functioning of groups, the impact of the group on the individual, the multiple levels of interactions that occur, and the specific skills required by a group leader to make the most of groups and their interactional properties. Lack of knowledge, expertise, and training in group psychology and in group psychotherapy could result in negative outcomes for clients and antitherapeutic events for social groups. And so it is imperative that this specialty designation is successful in order that public who seek or require the input of group psychologists receive the best possible of evidence-based care. This specialty designation will go a long way to ensure that trainees, therapists, practitioners, supervisors, training programs, the public, and funding partners are appropriately aware of the unique properties and effects of groups, and the skills and professional training required to lead groups.

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Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

Joe Miles, Ph.D.
Joe Miles, Ph.D.

Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

The Diversity Committee met in the Division 49 Hospitality Suite at the annual American Psychological Association Convention in Washington, DC. The Committee has several initiatives we will be focusing on in the coming year:

First, we hope to develop a webinar series focused on diversity and social justice in group. If there are specific topics related to diversity and social justice in group you would like to see covered in a webinar, please let us know! You can send ideas to Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu.

In addition, the Committee is working together with our Program Chair, Debra O’Connell, to develop a Diversity and Social Justice in Group Poster Session at the 2018 APA Convention. This will be a second poster session, in addition to our usual poster session, and will give us the opportunity to highlight posters that specifically present research, clinical practice, or advocacy efforts aimed at promoting diversity and social justice in group work. Student Poster Awards will be given to the top three posters (in addition to the student poster awards given in the general poster session). Cash prizes of $300, $200, and $100 for the first, second, and third place, respectively! Posters should be submitted and will be reviewed following the standard procedures for poster submissions. Authors should indicate in their proposal that the poster is to be considered for the Diversity and Social Justice in Group Poster Session. The deadline for proposal submissions is 5:00 PM ET on Thursday, December 1, 2017. More information on how to submit proposals can be found in the APA Call for Proposals: http://www.apa.org/convention/proposals.aspx.

The Committee also hopes to develop a Diversity and Social Justice in Group section of the Division 49 Website. We envision this section as a place to highlight research related to diversity and social justice in group, and to share resources (e.g., syllabi, articles, guidelines). If you have ideas about what you might like to see in this section of the website, or if you have resources or other material you would like to share, please let us know!

Finally, the Committee is excited to welcome our new Chair, Nikki Coleman, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Department of Psychological, Health, & Learning Sciences at the University of Houston. Dr. Coleman is also the incoming Member-at-Large for Diversity for the Board of Division 49. Welcome, Dr. Coleman!

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Group Psychotherapy Column

Tom Treadwell, EdD, T.E.P. C.G.P.
Tom Treadwell, EdD, T.E.P. C.G.P.

Cognitive Experiential Group Therapy: A model for a variety of clinical and college counseling settings

Thomas Treadwell Ed.D., CGP, Deborah Dartnell, MA, MSOD, Ainsley Stenroos, MA, & Brittni Gettys, BA

Cognitive Experiential Group therapy is a powerful tool for growth and change. This model of group therapy is designed to include 10-12 individuals who meet face to face to share their struggles and concerns with 1-2 trained cognitive experiential group therapists. The power lies in the unique opportunity to experience, warming up, action, and sharing in a group environment allowing multiple perspectives, support, encouragement and feedback from other individuals in safe and confidential environment. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was established by Aaron T. Beck (1967, 1979), and involves several techniques to challenge negative thought patterns and increase engagement in positive and success-based experiences. Psychodrama group therapy was created based on work by Jacob. L. Moreno (1953), and involves experiential, interpersonal exercises to raise awareness and reduction of internal conflicts in order to change negative relational patterns. Although CBT is a robust, proven, and very effective treatment approach for many mental disorders, including the big ones like depression and anxiety it is sometimes criticized for being overly structured and intellectually oriented (Young & Klosko, 1994; 1996; Woolfolk, 2000).  As a result, some group therapists today use an approach based upon CBT or identify with a less structured approach called eclectic (Kellerman, 1992) that typically employs techniques that come from cognitive behavioral therapy and its related research.  Beck reports, “My employment of enactive, emotive strategies was influenced, no doubt, by psychodrama and Gestalt therapy” (A. Beck, 1991, p.196). Psychodrama is an eclectic tool to enhance the cognitive and behavioral change. Several practitioners have worked to integrate CBT into the Psychodramatic model by highlighting the ways CBT enhances psychodrama exercises (Boury, Treadwell, & Kumar, 2001, Treadwell, Kumar, & Wright 2004), adapting psychodrama to include the exploration of irrational beliefs (Kipper, 2002), and considering the way in which psychodrama could be considered a form of CBT (Baim, 2007; Fisher, 2007; Treadwell, Travaglini, Reisch, & Kumar, 2011; Wilson, 2009). The blending of the two models yields a complementary approach to multiple problem-solving strategies (Treadwell, Kumar, & Wright 2004):

  • Both the CBT and Psychodrama models stress the discovery process through Socratic questioning. The use of certain structured CBT techniques within the context of psychodrama provide ways to deepen self-reflection, problem-solving, and mood-regulation skills that can be rehearsed through psychodrama exercises.
  • Experiential role playing can provide individuals with opportunities to generate new ways of thinking and behaving. The spontaneity and creativity of individuals can be increased through the use of psychodrama techniques, thus helping to produce alternative thoughts.

Cognitive Experiential Group Therapy (CEGT) is an effective model for working with a variety of clinical and nonclinical populations. The model incorporates cognitive behavioral and psychodrama interventions, allowing group members to identify and modify negative thinking, behavior, and interpersonal patterns while increasing engagement in positive and success-based experiences (Treadwell, Dartnell, Travaglini, Staats & Devinney, 2016). The CEGT environment creates a safe and supportive climate where clients can practice new thinking and behaviors and share their concerns freely with group members (Treadwell, Kumar, & Wright, 2004).

Initially, all members are assessed using various instruments to establish the nature and severity of presenting issues and to uncover other relevant information. The first one or two sessions are devoted to establishing group norms, explaining Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and schemas, and describing the session format. The initial didactic sessions are intended to explain the group format as a problem-solving approach for working through various interpersonal, occupational, educational, psychological, and health-related conflicts. The sessions include information about the nature of the structured activities so participants have realistic expectations about how the group will run.  Each group member signs informed consent and audiovisual recording consent forms. The audiovisual recordings create an ongoing record of group activities and serve as a source for feedback when needed. The action model is introduced in session one, with the director/facilitator, introducing the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI), Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI), and Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) (Beck, 1988; Beck& Steer, 1993; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996), and explains the importance of completing each scale on a weekly basis. The instruments are administered before the start of each session and are stored in personal folders to serve as an ongoing gauge of participants’ progress within the group (Treadwell, Kumar, & Wright, 2008).

In the second session, additional data on early maladaptive and dysfunctional schemas/core beliefs are obtained when group members complete Young’s (Young, Klosko, & Weishaar, 2003; Young & Klosko, 1994; Young, 1999) schema questionnaire. A list and the definitions of dysfunctional schemas and core beliefs are given to participants during the initial session (Treadwell, Kumar, & Wright, 2008).  Additionally, we administer the Therapeutic Factors Inventory (TFI) to identify four dimensions of group progress (Joyce, MacNair-Semands, Tasca, & Ogrodniczuk, (2011) during week 2, week 8, and week 16.

Each group session in CEGT is divided into three sections typically found in psychodramatic interventions: warm-up; action; and sharing (Moreno, 1934). Many CBT techniques (Beck, 2011) are utilized in the warm-up, including: identifying upsetting situations, automatic negative thoughts and triggered moods; writing balanced thoughts to counter negative automatic thoughts; and recognizing distortions in thinking and imprecise interpretations of difficult situations. The second portion, action, employs psychodramatic techniques such as role-playing, role-reversal, and mirroring, which facilitate the examination of various conflicting situations individuals experience within the group context. This enables group members to better understand the nature of negative thoughts triggered by situations and their effects on moods. The last stage, sharing, allows auxiliaries and group members to share their experiences with the protagonist. At this stage, the director may provide additional guidance to the protagonist regarding ways to begin resolving the actual situation in real life. Normally, the protagonist will be asked to complete a homework assignment that will be reviewed at the next session.

Warm-up

The Automatic Thought Record (ATR) (Greenberger& Padaskey, 1995,2015) is explained and demonstrated on a white board during warm-up.  Socratic questioning is utilized to improve their awareness of irrational thoughts, (negative automatic thinking), that allows them to consciously question their own irrational thoughts.  A group member volunteers his/her situation and facilitators walk the person through the seven columns.  This individual is referred to as the protagonist.

Action

The protagonist, selects a group member, to be her double.  The double communicates thoughts and feelings the protagonist is having but cannot express.  If the protagonist is agitated, she may have some difficulty getting into the psychodrama; in this case, the soliloquy technique would be helpful.  Implementing soliloquy technique, the protagonist walks around the room, thinking aloud, expressing concerns, discomfort, and hopes, allowing her to relax, focus, and prepare for the psychodrama. This is also useful in helping other group members focus on the upcoming action phase. The double walks with her, expressing thoughts he assumes she is thinking but not expressing. Doubling, modeling, and role-training are crucial in learning how to get unstuck from repeated negative behavioral patterns. Many protagonists are anxious when learning a new role; therefore, it is important to support them as they try it “on for size” in session.

Sharing

At the end of the psychodrama, group members share and discuss what occurred, commenting on their experience playing a particular role or on how the situation affected them.  Sharing is critical both for the protagonist and for each of the group members as they reflect, share, and learn from each other. Sharing is a fundamental component in enhancing group cohesion.  During the sharing stage, assigning homework to the protagonist is essential, as it encourages the continuation of work on the new role explored in the session.  Role development needs practice for habituation to take place and to move the protagonist to feel safe in her new role.

Summary

Utilizing principles of CBT and psychodrama create a powerful and effective group process, enabling participants to address problematic situations with the support of group members. Clients find CBT helpful in becoming aware of their habitual dysfunctional thought patterns and belief systems that play an important role in mood regulation; the action component allows them to actually see and feel the dysfunction.  The cognitive experiential approach enables the individual and group to explore events, concerns, or issues, both problematic and fulfilling, in the past, present, or future.

As an aside, we will be offering this as an all-day workshop at the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) Conference “Connections”, Houston Texas, March – 2018

References

Baim, C. (2007). Are you a cognitive psychodramatist? British Journal of Psychodrama and Sociodrama, 22(2), 23–31

Beck, A.T. (1967). Depression: Clinical, experimental, and theoretical aspects. New York: Hoeber. Republished as Depression: Causes and treatment. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Beck, A.T., Rush, A.J., Shaw, B.F., & Emery, G. (1979). Cognitive therapy of depression. New York: The Guilford Press.

Beck, A. T. (1991). Cognitive therapy as the integrative therapy. Journal of Psychotherapy 

Integration, 1 (3), 191-198.

Beck, J.S. (2011). Cognitive behavioral therapy: Basics and beyond (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Boury, M., Treadwell, T., & Kumar, V. K. (2001). Integrating psychodrama and cognitive therapy: An exploratory study. International Journal of Action Methods: Psychodrama, Skill Training, and Role Playing. 54 (1), pp 13–25.

Fisher, J. (2007). Congenial alliance: Synergies in cognitive and psychodramatic therapies.  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. 1 (4), 237-242.

Greenberger, D. &  Padesky, C. (2015). Mind over mood: Change how you feel by changing the way you think. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Joyce, A.S., MacNair-Semands, R., Tasca, G.A., & Ogrodniczuk, J.S. (2011).  Factor structure and validity of the Therapeutic Factors Inventory – Short Form.  Group Dynamics, 15(3), 201-219.

Moreno, J. L. (1934). Who shall survive? A new approach to the problem of human interrelations. Washington, DC: Nervous & Mental Disease Publishing Co.

Treadwell, T., Kumar, V.K & Wright, J. (2004). Enriching psychodrama via the use of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama, & Sociometry, 55, 55-65.

Treadwell, T., Travaglini, L., Reisch, E., & Kumar, V.K. (2011). The effectiveness of collaborative story building and telling in facilitating group cohesion in a college classroom setting. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 61 (4), 502-517.

Treadwell, T., Dartnell, D., Travaglini L., Staats, M., & Devinney, K. (2016). Group therapy workbook: Integrating cognitive behavioral therapy with psychodramatic theory and practice.  Parker, Colorado: Outskirts Press Publishing.

Wilson, J. (2009). An introduction to psychodrama for CBT practitioners. Journal of the New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists, 19, 4–7.

Young, J. E., & Klosko, J. S. (1994). Reinventing your life. New York: Plume.

Young, J.E., Klosko, J.S., & Weishaar, M. (2003).  Schema therapy: A practitioner’s guide. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Young, J. E. (1999) Cognitive therapy for personality disorders: A schema-focused approach.  Sarasota, FL: Professional Resources Press.

Woolfolk, R. (2000). Cognition and emotion in counseling and psychotherapy. Practical Philosophy.3(3), 19–27.

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Group Dynamics Editor

Joe Miles, Ph.D.

Call for Nominations for Journal Editor of Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice

The Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy (Division 49) of the American Psychological Association has opened nominations for the Editorship of the Division’s journal, Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice for the term of January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2023.

Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice (GDN) is a peer-reviewed, quarterly journal that publishes original empirical articles, theoretical analyses, literature reviews, and brief reports dealing with basic and applied topics in the field of group research and application. The editors construe the phrase group dynamics in the broadest sense—the scientific study of all aspects of groups—and publish work by investigators in such fields as psychology, psychiatry, sociology, education, communication, and business.

The journal publishes articles examining groups in a range of contexts, including ad hoc groups in experimental settings, therapy groups, naturally forming friendship groups and cliques, organizational units, self-help groups, and learning groups. Theoretically driven empirical studies of hypotheses that have implications for understanding and improving groups in organizational, educational, and therapeutic settings are particularly encouraged.

Candidates should be available to start receiving manuscripts as the Incoming Editor on January 1, 2018 to prepare for issues published in 2019. David K. Marcus, Ph.D. is the incumbent editor, whose term ends on December 31, 2018.

Please note that Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy encourages participation by members of underrepresented groups in the publication process and would particularly welcome such nominees. Self-nominations are also encouraged.

Joseph R. Miles, Ph.D., will chair the search. To nominate a candidate (or yourself), please send the candidate’s name and contact information to Joseph Miles at joemiles@utk.edu. He will follow up with all nominees to assess interest and request additional materials.

Deadline for accepting nominations is July 1, 2017, when reviews will begin.

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Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

Joe Miles, Ph.D.

Recognizing Diversity

The Diversity Committee of the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy is hard at work evaluating applications for our first ever Student Diversity Award. The winner will be announced at the Division 49 Business Meeting at 2:00 PM on Friday, August 4th at the 2017 APA Convention in Washington, DC. Thank you to all who nominated students for this award!

The Diversity Committee will be meeting on Friday, August 4th at 12:00 PM in the Division 49 Hospitality Suite at the 2017 APA Convention. We will be sure to wrap up the meeting in time to head to the Division 49 Presidential Address at 1 PM. If you are interested in joining the Committee, please email Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu, or join us at our meeting in the Hospitality Suite on August 4th!

Finally, we would like to highlight two programs relevant to diversity and social justice in group work at this year’s convention.

  • 10:00 AM: Symposium: Group Therapy with Diverse College Women (1 hour)
  • 2:00 PM: Conversation Hour: A Dialogue about Dialogue: Implementation of Intergroup Dialogue on College Campuses (2 hours)

We hope to see you there!

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Group Psychotherapy Column

“It’s the circle of life,
And it moves us all.
Through despair and hope,
Through faith and love,
Till we find our place,
On the path unwinding;
In the circle,
The circle of life.”

– “Circle of Life” in The Lion King

Tevya Zukor, Ph.D.

Summer – The season for lounging at the beach, enjoying a few backyard barbecues, and soaking in the sun. It’s the time of year when the trials and tribulations of the other nine months fade into nothing as we enjoy the respite that we’ve been conditioned to love ever since we first wandered into a classroom as a young child.

When people ask why I work in collegiate mental health, I often joke that I’ve been in the academic world so long, I wouldn’t know how to function in any other environment. For many of us, we’re spent the majority of our lives living on the academic schedule – Classes start around September; we get about a month off in December-January, and then we grind until May; when we finally reach those magical months of summer. It’s been that way since I was a young child and it remains true to this day. Summer is the reward we get for working so hard the rest of the year.

However, for all the hotdogs and hamburgers that one may consume during this time; for all those lazy days at the pool that seem so carefree and idyllic; the reality for those of us who identify as collegiate mental health group practitioners is somewhat more complicated. The fun and enjoyment of the season remains. Our workloads are typically reduced and those many days of vacation that we could not take during the hectic fall and spring semesters get consumed with ravenous delight.

Yet, when we put on our professional hats and think about both the semester that has ended and the new semester that approaches, we are inextricably confronted with the “circle of life” that occurs in our groups. The summer may have started, but for much of June, my mind remains with the clients and groups that I facilitated in the spring. I think about the hopes, goals, and dreams of the group members that I have gotten to know so well over the course of the academic year. Many of those members will be graduating and starting a new chapter in their lives. Did they accomplish what they needed from group? Will they flourish in their next endeavors by applying their newfound knowledge and skills? Was I able to contribute meaningfully to someone making positive change?

That first month of summer is a time of reflection and introspection. How did my groups go? What changes can I make? How can I be more effective? It is humbling to think that in just one group, we likely got to learn, live, and experience the lives of 6-8 members that we did not know when the semester started. We know how these members interact with their family and friends. We know what they say to themselves when they don’t think others are listening.  We have been privy to some of their darkest fears, but also some of their most illuminating accomplishments.  We get to know so many people, so deeply, as a result of our work…and once summer comes, our knowledge of those people ends.  We often don’t get to continue to share their journey. Group members’ graduate and transition to other phases of life.  We are hopefully left with fond memories and a sense of accomplishment in our work. However, we have also suffered a loss; a spiritual death of sorts. We know we will not see or hear from some of those members ever again. While their journey has not ended, our shared experience of it has come to a close. As we have done throughout our careers, we have to wrestle with the finality of termination and try find acceptance that the remainder of those stories will forever be unknown.

However, as is often the case in life, mourning these “deaths” soon brings about a re-birth and new life. As the summer continues and the calendar flips from June to July, our thoughts often turn to Orientation and the welcoming of new students onto campus.  With the emergence of the new incoming class, thoughts start to turn to life and creation.  Are there new groups that one might want to develop for next year? Who will be our new group members? What stories will they share and what journeys will they take us on?

It is incredible to think that as we watch these new students arrive; filled with their hopes and dreams for their new college-life; we will get to know some of these people just as intimately as we knew our previous members.  We will experience new journeys with these students, just as we did with the members that came before.  We may not know exactly what the future holds, but we know that we will soon care about these new stories and new people just as much as we did before. Our groups go forward and with each iteration, we will become a little more skilled and a little more proficient.  We will continue to refine our craft and be there for those who are struggling. We won’t forget the journeys of previous groups, but we will make room to experience new stories and new adventures.

The circle of life continues.

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Prevention Corner

Elaine Clanton Harpine, Ph.D.
Elaine Clanton Harpine, Ph.D.

Prevention Corner

This will be my last prevention corner.  My husband and I are retiring in May.  I want to thank the Division 49 leadership and especially Tom and everyone who has worked on the newsletter for inviting me to write the Prevention Corner.  I hope that another group preventionist will take up the challenge and continued the column.  I look forward to reading the next person’s ideas.

Prevention groups play a very important role in group psychology.  In Division 49, we have the opportunity to draw group prevention into the division and expand the scope of Group Psychology.  As I stated in the February/March 2017 issue of the American Psychologist, “Why wasn’t prevention included?” All too often psychologist turn away and close the door on group prevention.  Prevention groups could offer and expand the outreach of group psychology.  There are many community organizations, schools, and health professionals seeking trained prevention group leaders (for a suggested list see Clanton Harpine, 2015).  As I have stated previously in this column (see July 26, vol 26, #2), there are many undergraduates who struggle to find adequate employment with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Group prevention could provide these employment opportunities.  Group prevention should be incorporated into our undergraduate psychology degree programs because group prevention could offer career opportunities for students and new outreach possibilities in psychology (Clanton Harpine, 2017).  Group prevention is not a threat to group psychotherapy; therapy and prevention work with two totally different populations and needs.  As a division, we need both. Yet, all too often group prevention is shoved aside.  I hope as Division 49 continues to grow that the leadership will open the door and welcome group prevention as a full partner.

Thank you for my years and many friends in the division.  Even in retirement, I will continue at a slower pace to work with children who are struggling to learn to read.  The concern of psychologists over reading failure is growing.  Reading failure continues to be a major developmental psychological problem with at-risk students.  I will be continuing my reading blog for those who are interested, please feel free to contact me:  www.groupcentered.com   or at clantonharpine@hotmail.com

References

Clanton Harpine, E.  (2015).  Group-centered prevention in mental health:  Theory, training, and practice.  New York:  Springer.

Clanton Harpine, E.  (2017).  Why wasn’t prevention included?  Comment on the special issue on undergraduate education in psychology (2016).  American Psychologist, 72, 171-172.   doi:  10. 1037/amp 0000061

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Diversity Committee

Joe Miles, Ph.D.

Recognizing Student and Professional Contributions to Diversity in Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy

The Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Committee is pleased to announce a new Student Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology. This award is in addition to the Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology. Both awards may be given each year to qualified nominees. Information about both awards can be found below:

1. The Student Award for Outstanding Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology or Group Psychotherapy

The Student Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology or Group Psychotherapy seeks to recognize excellence in group psychology practice, research, service, and/or advocacy with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity.  All who are members of Division 49 (or whose application for membership is currently pending) are eligible. Nominations may come from self or others. The award will be presented at the annual American Psychological Association Convention. A $500.00 cash award and plaque will be presented to the award winner. Nominations materials should include and be limited to the following:

  • Names, phone numbers, program and institutional affiliations, APA divisional membership of yourself (the endorser) and of your nominee.
  • A brief letter highlighting your nominee’s contributions in promoting understanding and respect for diversity in group psychology practice, research, service and/or advocacy.
  • The nominee’s vita.
  • All materials should be submitted via a zipped/compressed folder in one email with the following subject line: [Candidate’s First and Last Name] –Application for Group Dynamics Teaching Award. For example, MARGARET WISE BROWN – APPLICATION FOR STUDENT DIVERSITY AWARD.zip.

All submissions must be received by May 1, 2017 to be considered. Send to division49awards@gmail.com

2. The Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology or Group Psychotherapy

The Award for Outstanding Professional Contribution to Diversity in Group Psychology or Group Psychotherapy started in 2012 and is awarded every year. This award honors psychologists who have made significant contributions to group psychology practice, research, service, and/or mentoring, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity.  All who are members of Division 49 (or whose application for membership is currently pending) are eligible. Nominations may come from self or others. The award will be presented at the annual American Psychological Association Convention. A $1,000.00 cash award and plaque will be presented to the award winner. Nominations materials should include and be limited to the following:

  • Names, phone numbers, program and institutional affiliations, APA divisional membership of yourself (the endorser) and of your nominee.
  • A brief letter highlighting the nominee’s contributions in promoting understanding and respect for diversity in group psychology practice, research, service and/or mentoring.
  • The nominee’s vita.
  • All materials should be submitted via a zipped/compressed folder in one email with the following subject line: [Candidate’s First and Last Name] –Application for Group Dynamics Teaching Award. For example, ERICA BLADE – APPLICATION FOR DIVERSITY AWARD.zip.

Self-nominations are accepted. Nominations are reviewed by the Diversity Committee and voted on by the board of directors at its midwinter meeting.

All submissions must be received by May 1, 2017 to be considered. Send to division49awards@gmail.com


Diversity Programming at APA in Washington, DC

The Diversity Committee would like to help highlight diversity-related programming at the 2017 APA Convention in Washington, DC this August. If you will be presenting on a topic related to diversity in group psychology or group psychotherapy, please let us know! You can send titles of your presentations to Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu.

In addition, the Diversity Committee is interested in developing a diversity-related program in the Division 49 Hospitality Suite at the Convention. This program could take the form of a conversation hour, mentoring session, or panel of speakers. Our goal is to foster dialogue among Division members about diversity in group psychology and group psychotherapy in an informal setting. We would like to hear from you about diversity-related topics or types of programming you would like to see in the Suite! Please email any ideas or requests to Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu.

Join the Diversity Committee!

Do you have a passion for diversity and social justice in group psychology or group psychotherapy? Consider joining the Diversity Committee! The committee was established in 2007 “to promote the inclusion and visibility of underrepresented minorities in the society. The committee is also charged with attracting, fostering, and managing diversity in membership and activities of the society, and developing and recommending policies and programs designed to educate members of the division in this area in their practice, research and training” (see: http://www.apadivisions.org/division-49/leadership/committees/index.aspx). If you are interested in learning more, please contact Joe Miles at joemiles@utk.edu.

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Group Psychotherapy Column

Tevya Zukor, Ph.D.

A Call to Action

These are troubling, unsettling times.  The world is changing at a record pace and many of the bedrock principals that formed the United States of America seem to be more in question than ever before.  To quote the great Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:

“It is time to ask yourself what you believe.”

Who are we as a society?  Who are we as a country?

At the most basic level, the question is always -Who are we as a Group? How do we want to define our values? How do we stand and support one another, even when we may have disparate thoughts and opinions? How do we identify as individuals who are also a member of a larger whole?

These are the questions that millions of Americans have been asking themselves in the recent days, weeks, and months. These are questions about values and identity. These are questions that shape who we truly are as people; and just as importantly, who we actually want to be.

These questions can be anxiety-provoking.  What happens when we look in the mirror and we don’t like the reflection that stares back at us? As with all potentially troubling questions; it is far scarier, and more isolating, when we try to answer them alone.

We feel better, and more secure, when we ask such questions and get feedback from others.  We benefit from perspectives that we often lose when fear takes hold. We take solace in knowing that even if the answers may sometimes be troubling or uncomfortable, we are stronger when we can lean on others and we are braver when we are part of a larger group.

As group practitioners, we know this to be true.  We have lived these experiences and we have directly beheld the power of group.  We have seen courage and witnessed bravery that would not have been possible if a person had attempted to do it alone. Our wisdom, derived from years of experience and education, allows us to understand these concepts both theoretically and practically. This is our area of expertise.

In the uncertain times that our nation now faces, we are needed more than ever.   We have experienced this journey, both personally and professionally, many times before. It is NOT new to us. It is NOT uncharted territory. Our livelihoods and passions have literally been organized around assisting people through the darkest times in their lives and allowing them to experience the immense strength they have that they never knew existed.  That is the work we do every single day. We know how to do this.  We walk this path with countless clients.

Now that the very fabric of our Republic feels like it is in jeopardy; our work does NOT change – just the scope of our practice does.  This is our call to be leaders (Or, in the parlance of our profession, “facilitators” if one so prefers). Our work is no longer contained to the clients who walk through our office doors.

Our profession is about serving the needs of people and right now, the people of the country are struggling. Most of us are used to working with small groups of 6-10 members. Now it’s time to serve the large group – possibly the largest of large groups – it’s time to serve ALL members of this great country.

We, as group mental health professionals, are uniquely qualified to meet the needs of the group right now. We have the training and experience to understand the dynamics of scapegoating, oppression, and irrational fear-based behavior. Not only do we understand how these processes emerge, but we have thousands of years of combined experience helping people navigate through the worst times of their lives and being there as they to emerge from the darkness that once overwhelmed them.

We know it is possible because we have experienced it countless times before.  We have worked with the desperate, despondent client who is convinced that the world will never change.  We have challenged the hopelessness of clients when they have told us that things will never get better and their lived will never improve. We understand that their fears are often based on a lack of knowledge and perspective. We teach and encourage coping skills even to those who are unconvinced it will be successful. And most importantly, we show our groups that they are stronger and more resilient than they ever knew possible.

This time is no different; it’s just more present and the scope is a bit bigger. It’s time to do what our years of training and experience has taught us to do – It’s time to lead the group.

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Columns

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: joemiles@utk.edu.  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.