Recognition of Group as a Specialty: Approaching the Finish Line

Nina Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, FAGPA
Nina Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, FAGPA President, Group Specialty Council

It was our pleasure in April 2018 to let you know that CRSPPP was recommending recognition of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy as a specialty for psychology doctoral, internship and postdoctoral training programs.  While this is certainly wonderful news after the many submissions of petitions for recognition that was not the finish line as the APA Council has to provide the final vote which is scheduled to occur at the convention in August.  We are not able to publicize the specialty until we receive the official notification about COR’s action.  However, there is enough reason now to celebrate the CRSPPP recommendation for recognition and to feel hopeful that the outcome of the vote in August will be positive.

The journey to now has taken a long time and lots of effort from many of the Society’s volunteers as well as the contributions from compensated personnel.  A short recap of the journey begins with the submission in 2010 authored by Sally Barlow and others.  That petition was not approved by CRSPPP and the effort to gain recognition languished until the reformation of the Group Specialty Council in 2014 under the revised standards set by CRSPPP that specified that Councils should be composed or organizations, agencies and the like.  The reformation continued with the election of the Council’s president (Nina Brown) and secretary (Eleanor Counselman), and the development of Council Bylaws which are posted on the Society’s website.

The new Group Specialty Council created and submitted new proposals in 2015 and 2016, which were also rejected by CRSPPP.  It was in 2015 that the Council decided to use a professional writer as the major criticism of the petition was that it appeared to be the work of a committee which was accurate.  A committee had created the proposal.  With the help of funding from The Society, the American Group Psychotherapy Association, the American Board of Group in Professional Psychology, and the International Registry of Group Psychotherapists,  a professional writer was hired and a new petition submitted in 2016.  That petition was rejected because we only described training at the doctoral and internship levels and CRSPPP asked for us to provide how specialty training could occur at the postdoctoral and post-licensure levels.  In addition, APA’s Commission on Accreditation asked for the competencies needed for the specialty at the postdoctoral level as they would align with the new Standards of Accreditation.  (We started this process before CoA developed the SoA so we had to try to align the specialty with two different sets of accreditation standards.)  CRSPPP did not want us to submit a totally new petition, they only wanted the guidelines and other documentation for the postdoctoral and post licensure levels. The latest petition submitted in 2017 and approved by them in 2018 had all of the requested information.

As noted before, many people participated in development of the successful petition and their efforts and contributions are appreciated.  Following are the names of volunteers (in alphabetical order) who were involved in the many different aspects of preparing the petition.

Sally Barlow                                       Marsha Block                                      Richard Billow

Misha Bogomaz                                  Loretta Braxton                                   Gary Burlingame

Eleanor Counselman                           Joel Frost                                            Robert Gleaves

Les Greene                                          Joshua Gross                                      Samuel James

Noelle LaForge                                   *Nicole Millman-Falk                         Tony Shepard

Allen Sherman                                    *Staci Smith                                        Kathy Ulman

Martyn Whittingham                           * Professional writer, contributor

My special thanks are extended to Eleanor, Marsha, Josh and Noelle for their sustained efforts and support through all of these iterations of the petition.  Thanks are also due to Craig Parks and George Tasca as Presidents of The Society who provided support for requested funding, and other actions to support the petition.

I hope to have a celebratory message in September.

We will arrive!

Committee Reports

APA Council Meeting Report

Sally Barlow, Ph.D.
Sally Barlow, Ph.D.

Council of Representatives August 2014 Report from Sally Barlow, Ph.D.

(Thanks to Rhea Farberman, Monitor Executive Editor for sharing her summary of meeting, portions of which I use here)

1. Council continued work on Good Governance Project (GGP) and Implementation Work Group (IWG), which seeks to streamline APA’s governance system and make it more inclusive. As background, Council approved 3-year trial delegation of duties to Board of Directors (BOD) in 4 areas (finances & budget, oversight of CEO, aligning budget with strategic planning, internally focused policy development) during February meeting, and changes to APA’s board of directors to include 6 member-at-large seats to be elected by general membership, as well as a public member, student and Early Career Psychologist (ECP) and 2 more seats from the newly created Council Leadership Team (CLT) to liaise better between Council and BOD. These changes to the BOD will require a bylaws vote by general membership expected to be sent out during next year.

2. Details about these changes were hammered out (mostly hammered on ) during the August 2014 meeting regarding council’s optimal size and structure (House of Representatives vs senatorial models); that is, an apportionment vs. 1-seat-each model.

3. Council approved changes in oversight functions of Committee for the Advancement of Professional Practice (CAPP), now be wholly a committee of the APA Practice Organization (APAPO), which will be responsible for day to day work including c-6 interests in legislative, legal and regulatory areas.

4. Council approved association rules (attending to issues of inclusivity) to ensure ECP representation.

5. Council adopted a resolution to stem false confessions obtained by police officers from women in the midst of domestic abuse situations as well as mentally disabled adults, both of whom may not understand their right to remain silent.

6. Council adopted as APA policy s resolution on diversity in children and adolescents to encourage greater education regarding gender and sexual orientation.

7. Council adopted resolution in support of UN Convention on Right and Dignity of Person with Disabilities. (See

8. Council approved creation of a Div. 42 journal titled Practice Innovation

9. Council approved creation of a committee on Associate and Baccalaureate education.

10. Council adopted new policy that supports inclusion of all governance boards and committee members who have not previously served in governance.

11. Council elected a class of 111 APA Fellows—if you are not already a fellow, please consider being one!!

*As this was an altogether fractious debate, I will spare you the details. Almost all of the 1 and ½ days spent on this debate appeared to be to be highly managed from the floor by the minority of council reps who wanted to hang on to apportionment. (This is a large debate—I recommend that you review the attachments on representation that I included in the last council report if you are interested.) The debate continued several weeks on list serve exchanges after the DC meeting. I responded on the list serve as a good group person by pointing out the group dynamics impasse. Many of the minority stakeholders insisted on a council retreat (potentially costing APA $200,000) in addition to our 2 face-to-face meetings each year. I am copying one of my list serve responses, and would like you to know that a number of people responded individually to me saying emphatically that I had exactly captured what was happening. “Trying to figure out if I have read the latest raft of emails correctly. 1) the majority/minority continue to fight with each other accusing each other of even nastier politicking including hijacking the parliamentary process and 2) proposing to meet together for even more time in between now and the February 2015 Council meeting presumably because we cannot come to consensus. Wow. If we can’t accomplish our work in our 2 yearly face-to-face meetings, given all the committee work that has gone into council preparations beforehand, all the behind-the-scenes thinking, why would we want/need to meet more? Madness.

Committee Reports

APA Council Meeting Report

Sally Barlow, PhD
Sally Barlow, PhD

Friday February 20-23, 2014 Washington DC

Sally H. Barlow, Ph.D. – Council Representative

For 3 days I attended my first ever Council meeting including Thursday activities for new council representatives and the regular agenda items from Friday through Saturday. It was a very packed agenda, during which I learned the “ropes” of 1) networking with other council reps who might share our society’s interests, 2) understanding how to bring questions to the floor (long lines at the microphones), 3) getting the electronic voting gizmo to work, and 4) appreciating the enormous challenge of parliamentary procedure as varied interests war on the floor. Below is a summary of action items that I noted and/or voted upon as a representative of the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy. If you would like a more thorough report please feel free to email me at

Council Items of Public Interest

  • APA adopted as policy the resolution on Gun Violence Research and Prevention.
  • Endorsed Multidisciplinary Competencies in the Care of Older adults at the Completion of the Entry-Level Health Professional Degree (adopted in partnership with Health in Aging).
  • Received the “Report of the Task Force on Trafficking of Women and Girls” in order to develop a policy that weds action with scientific research in order to stop this blight.

Professional Development

  • Impact of Affordable Care Act on Psychology and Psychologists—long discussion about this.
  • APA Center of Psychology and Health—a new initiative of APA to strengthen psychology in the new era of health care addressing 4 challenges: 1) workforce (ensuring well-trained psychologists of part of primary care team), 2) being included and paid, 3) image challenge—helping public and workforce see psychologists as primary care team, 4) self-image challenge—psychologists themselves often do not consider they are part of primary teams.
  • Gun Violence—developing an up-to-date policy on prediction and prevention of gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school shootings.
  • Clinical Practice Guidelines—the happy marriage between interventions and scientific evidence.
  • Governance—Council has been struggling to streamline governance procedures initially voted upon in 2013, being further refined and eventually implemented in 2014. Bottom line is that representation is being shifted in order to be fairer to all stakeholders. The Implementation Work Group (IWG), is made up of an impressive array of psychologists: Chair: Melba J.T. Vasquez, Ph.D.; Vice chair: Bill Strickland, Ph.D.; Mark Appelbaum, Ph.D.; Martha Banks, Ph.D.; Armand Cerbone, Ph.D.; Ayse Ciftci, Ph.D.; Helen Coons, Ph.D.; Paul Craig, Ph.D.; John Hagen, Ph.D.; Jo Johnson, Ph.D.; Linda Knauss, Ph.D.; Bonnie Markham, Ph.D., PsyD; Ali Mattu, Ph.D.; Marsha McCary, Ph.D.; Gilbert Newman, Ph.D.; Allen Omoto, Ph.D.; Vivian Oto Wang, Ph.D.; Mitch Prinstein, Ph.D.; Nancy Sidun, PsyD; Kristi Van Sickle, PsyD; Emily Voelkel, MA; and Milo Wilson, Ph.D.

Dr. Vasquez led an extremely useful discussion regarding the next step (choosing the representative structure—variously known as 7A, 7B, 7C).

Bear with me—this is complicated. The Good Governance Project (yet, another acronym—GGP) has worked diligently over several years to improve functionality of COR. A group of 175+ psychologists to run an organization of 134,000+ members is no easy thing. Principles for New Governance Structure: Consistent with overall APA structure; transparent, timely, nimble; reflects diversity; actively engages all members at all stages of their career; has appropriate checks and balances; allows for adaptation based on periodic review. There was a great deal of wrangling about this topic—I will spare you the political-jockeying details. Further refinement of this will happen at the August 2014 meeting in DC.

As a note to irony, since one of the key features of this new governance idea was a nod to better technology in order to further communication between council and APA, and Council at general membership, a proposal for a new division—Society for Technology and Psychology—was turned down. After listening to all the details regarding this new division, I have to say I thought it was a really good idea, voted for it, and watched it go down in defeat to traditionalist divisions who didn’t want their territory stomped on.

Other Council Items:

Internship Stimulus Project—addressing internship shortage problems with allotted three million dollars.

Approving multiple documents that will now be posted on APA Website: CRSPPP—update on the organization (Committee on Principles for the Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology)—details to follow as we go for CRSPPP approval for Group; Health Service Psychology; Competencies for Older Adults; Report re trafficking of girls and women; user-friendly resource for educators on program improvement; supporting the Center for History of Psychology at the University of Akron.

Creating a uniform definition of “Early Career Psychologist” ECP—to be 10 years post-doctoral

Making APA into a data-driven organization (improving electronic reports, record-keeping etc)

Developing a centralized application service for graduate education in psychology

Money—very complicated budget. Majority voted for it as well as keeping Norm Anderson as the CEO (who makes a lot more money than any of us)

Council was taught a very interesting CE session on Transgendered Identity in psychological care. See for a useful update about this.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye—Council honored him for his strong support of human rights and psychological services.