Prevention Corner

Elaine Clanton Harpine, PhD
Elaine Clanton Harpine, PhD

Elaine Clanton Harpine, PhD

The subject of training in group prevention is a frequently discussed topic at conferences and conventions these days. Through the Prevention Corner, we have also received numerous questions about how to receive training and exactly what type of training is needed in order to be effective in group prevention. We turn to two experts in prevention groups to give us some guidance. Before addressing our editorial question directly though, let us turn to a definition of prevention groups presented in the 2010 Special Issue on Group Prevention in Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice to remind readers of the depth and nature of prevention groups.

Prevention groups utilize group process to the fullest extent: interaction, cohesion, group process and change. The purpose of prevention groups is to enhance members’ strengths and competencies, while providing members with knowledge and skills to avoid harmful situations or mental health problems. Prevention groups occur as a stand-alone intervention or as a key part of a comprehensive prevention program. Prevention encompasses both wellness and risk reduction. Preventive groups may focus on the reduction in the occurrence of new cases of a problem, the duration and severity of incipient problems, or they may promote strengths and optimal human functioning. Prevention groups encompass many formats. They may function within a small group format or work with a classroom of thirty or forty. Prevention may also be community-wide with multiple group settings. Prevention groups use various group approaches. Psychoeducational groups are popular and, while some prevention psychologist work within a traditional counseling group, others use a group-centered intervention approach. Two key ingredients for all prevention groups are that they be directed toward averting problems and promoting positive mental health and well-being and that they highlight and harness group processes (Conyne & Clanton Harpine, 2010, p. 194).


Conyne, R. K., & Clanton Harpine, E. (2010). Prevention groups: The shape of things to come. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 14, 193-198. doi:10.1037/a0020446


Dear Prevention Corner:

What type of training is needed for people working in a prevention group? What should you include in a training program?



Suggestions for Training in Prevention Groups

Robert K. Conyne, PhD
Robert K. Conyne, PhD

Robert K. Conyne, PhD
William M. Allen Boeing Endowed Chair & Distinguished Professor,  Seattle University (2013-14)
Professor Emeritus, University of Cincinnati

Training in prevention group leadership needs to help learners to become informed about and develop competencies in:  (a) prevention knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values as they relate to mental health; (b) group leadership best practices grounded in evidence bases, ranging across the domains of planning, performing, and processing and emphasizing psychoeducation and active interaction; and (c) how to integrate and apply these two elements (Conyne & Horne, 2013; Conyne, 2014). Each of these elements is briefly expanded below.

Prevention principles and processes:  Particular attention should be placed on a systemic, ecological vantage point;  on collaboration, group processes and consultation;  on personal attributes sensitive to prevention (e.g., persistence, social justice, and a long-range view);  and on cultivating adoption of a primary prevention perspective emphasizing incidence reduction and a proactive, before-the-fact orientation  (Conyne, Horne, & Raczynski, 2013). Prevention applications should be informed by the American Psychological Association Guidelines for Prevention in Psychology (APA, 2013).

Group leadership best practices:  Special focus needs to be given to best practice guidelines (e.g., Association for Specialists in Group Work, 2007). These include planning and designing groups collaboratively with representatives of the designated population, respecting their unique ecological context (Conyne & Diederich, 2014, Rapin & Crowell, 2014);  performing/delivering  groups and group activities that accentuate member connection and interaction while providing clear opportunities for intentional skill development and feedback (Clanton Harpine, 2010; Marmarosh & Dunton, 2014); and assisting members to process their learning to engender meaning and to increase the likelihood of current and future application (Ward & Ward, 2014).

Integration Trainees need opportunities to conduct prevention groups under supervision.  Practica and internships afford the best places for this watchful practice to occur.  They need coursework in program development and evaluation to assist their abilities to design prevention group programs that include the components I’ve mentioned.  They need group training in basic and advanced leadership knowledge and skills.  Learners need seminars that allow them to evolve the all-important primary prevention perspective, which allows them to apply traditional and basic competencies to promote and prevent, as well as to remediate.


APA (2013).  Guidelines for prevention in psychology.

ASGW (2007). Best practice guidelines 2007 edition

Clanton Harpine, E. (2013).  Prevention groups. Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Conyne, R.  (2014).  (Ed.).  Group work practice kit.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Conyne, R., & Horne, A. (2013) (Eds.).  Prevention practice kit.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Conyne, R., Horne, A., & Raczynski, K. (2013).  Prevention in psychology:  An introduction to the Prevention Practice Kit.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Marmarosh, C., & Dunton, E.  (2014). Groups:  Fostering a culture of change.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Rapin, L., & Crowell, J. (2014).  How to form a group.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.

Ward, D., & Ward, C.  (2014).  How to help leaders and members learn from their group experience.  Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage.


Arthur M. Horne, PhD
Arthur M. Horne, PhD

Arthur M. Horne, PhD
Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Research Professor
University of Georgia

 “What type of training is needed for people working in a prevention group?”

For persons learning to be effective leaders with prevention groups the most important training issue is awareness. Awareness has two parts:

  1. 1. Awareness of why prevention is critical. That, as Albee (1982) has said, “We must recognize the fact that no mass disorder affecting large numbers of human beings has ever been controlled or eliminated by attempts at treating each affected individual or by training enough professionals as interventionists” (p. 1045). Developing an understanding of the importance of a preventative approach is critical to being an effective prevention group facilitator.
  2. Steps necessary to migrate from a life saver to a swim coach; from a mechanic to a gardener. Letting go of addressing the crises of the moment and moving back to developing the skills to recognize, identify, evaluate, and engage problems that are systemic, and preventable, rather than first order, and thus focus energy on stopping the problem from happening rather than treating it after it has occurred.

“What should you include in a training program?”

Much of the effort to change orientation from problem focused crises to solution focused prevention efforts takes a reorientation to problems. This will include a values clarification process which challenges participants to understand: what values are driving you? If immediate engagement and problem solving is a driving force, then treatment through solving problems in the here and now should be respected, honored, and allowed. If, on the other hand, participants are interested in developing long-term solutions to problems, to preventing the conflicts from ever occurring, it will be necessary to honor the values of prevention work and let go of the guilt of not being available for the crises while time is spent on long-term prevention engagement. In family therapy terms, the leader will need to understand the importance of letting go of first order behavior change and, instead, focus on second order change.

It is critical that we address hunger in America, and taking steps to provide support for the hungry of our streets is a worthwhile and noble act. But feeding the hungry is a first order change. On the other hand, hunger in America exists because we have a gross misdistribution of resources; we have sufficient food for all in our nation, but with the jobless rate, the homeless rate, and the poor economic circumstances, hunger becomes a byproduct. A second order change would be to address the issues that allow for homelessness, joblessness, and hunger to exist in the first place. But that is a much bigger challenge and one that takes enormous effort. The first step is for the facilitator of prevention groups to begin thinking differently.


Albee, G. W. (1982). Preventing psychopathology and promoting human potential. American Psychologist, 37, 1043-1050.

What do you think is needed to effectively train group workers to use group prevention techniques effectively? We would like to continue this discussion and invite your comments and responses. Our next column will be devoted to the responses that we receive. Let us hear from you. We welcome your participation. We invite psychologists, counselors, prevention programmers, graduate students, teachers, administrators, and other mental health practitioners working with groups to network together, share ideas, problems, and become more involved. Please send comments, questions, and group prevention concerns to Elaine Clanton Harpine at



Brief Articles

Concurrent Group Therapy with Parents: An Exploratory Study – Part I

Elisabeth Counselman Carpenter, LCSW
Elisabeth Counselman Carpenter, LCSW

Elisabeth Counselman Carpenter, LCSW

Note. This article has been broken into two parts. The first part (in this issue of TGP), provides an introduction to and literature review of concurrent group therapy. Part II, which will be included in the next issues of The Group Psychologist, describes the author’s exploratory study.


Parents of children with emotional, behavioral and learning issues, severe mental illness, or other problems that require treatment are particularly vulnerable. This population has been found to be at risk for high levels of stress (Levac, McKay, Merka, & Reddon-D’Arcy, 2008), increased social isolation (Levac et al., 2008), feelings of incompetence and guilt (Goodman, 2004), and the recipients of social stigma (Banach, Iudice, Conway & Couse, 2010; Gruber, Kajevic, Agius, & Martic-Biocina, 2006; Levac et al., 2008). In addition, parents of children with unusual needs (medical, emotional, behavioral or cognitive) are identified as having a greater risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness and feelings of hopelessness (Foreman, Willis & Goodenough, 2005; Levac. et al., 2008). While their children may be receiving treatment, this at-risk population of parents may not be receiving the services that are needed.

One form of parent groupwork that appears to be particularly under-utilized is concurrent parent group therapy. Concurrent group therapy, as identified by this author, is defined as the treatment modality in which some members of a family system participate in groupwork while other members of the family system participate in another group that is running at the same time, or participate in a group directly related to the group in which other members of the family system are participating. For concurrent parent group therapy, the parent group takes place while children are meeting in their particular form of group treatment. While concurrent refers to the timing of the groups, the types of group work do not necessarily need to coincide. For example, parents may participate in a psychoeducational or mutual aid group while children may participate in a support or psychodynamic group. Concurrent group therapy may also be known by the synonyms ‘parallel group therapy’ or ‘simultaneous group therapy’.

Recently, there has been more focus on how to stimulate the involvement of parents in their children’s treatment in a more holistic manner, which has been identified as a benefit to improving treatment outcomes (Ruffalo, Kuhn & Evans, 2006). This paper: presents current research on the types of interventions used with parents whose children are receiving treatment, with a particular focus on group therapy for parents; reviews the current literature on group work with parents whose children are receiving treatment; and presents the results of an exploratory study of the incidence of concurrent group therapy for parents whose children are receiving treatment.

Literature Review

Groupwork with parents. For parents whose children are receiving mental health services, group work can take place in many different forms, including support groups, mutual aid, problem-solving, psycho-educational, and therapeutic groups. Parent groupwork in multiple modalities has been shown to provide social support (Goodman 2004), provide psychoeducation, encourage advocacy (Levin, 1992), provide organizational opportunities (Levac et al., 2008), and can facilitate a healing experience as well as improve parenting skills (Pickett et al., 2008; Ruffalo et al., 2006). Groupwork with parents has also been found to improve a sense of parental competence, reduce family stress, and improve child-parent relationships (Levac et al., 2008; Ruffalo et al., 2006).

 Concurrent group therapy. The term ‘concurrent group therapy’ does not appear to be commonly used in the group research literature as its own identified modality. In fact, very few results were returned using the electronic search engines (e.g. Google, PsycINfo) in regards to the words ‘parallel,’ ‘simultaneous,’ or ‘concurrent’ group therapy. For example, in one cited study, the modality used was identified by the researchers as one singular group, although it met criteria for concurrent group therapy with two separate parent and child groups meeting individually, yet simultaneously. Semantics and the lack of the use of the phrase ‘concurrent group therapy’ as its own separate modality may be one reason why initial search results were so lacking in the number of studies found.

Goh et al. (2007) acknowledge an overall lack of research in parent-child group work literature, stating that there is a lot of information on parent support groups, but not therapeutic group experiences that involve both parents and their children. Many articles and studies discussed parent groups, children’s groups, or a multi-family group, but not groups that involve children and parents separately in their own groups. Some studies initially claimed to look at a concurrent group process, but in fact the groups studied did not meet the criteria for concurrent group therapy.

The few examples of concurrent group therapy literature between parents and children involve diverse populations and types of group work. Some concurrent groups involve a ‘breakout model’, where part of the group session is spent together while the second part of the group is then separated out for children to be grouped with age-appropriate peers and a separate group for parents. One such group was analyzed by Berry and McCauley (2007) who studied the efficacy of the Intensive Reunification Program (IRP) that took place at a Midwestern child welfare agency. The IRP model involves home-based services for parents who have lost custody of their children and are now in the reunification process. In addition to other concrete services provided, the IRP had twice weekly evening meetings during which concurrent parent group therapy served as the primary modality. Following a community dinner and a group activity for all participants, parents and children met in concurrent, but separate groups for approximately an hour. Parents met as one large group while children were divided into age appropriate sub-groups. Qualitative and quantitative data gathered from staff and participants demonstrated improved parenting skills, social support and a much higher percentage of reunification than families not participating in concurrent group therapy (Berry & McCauley, 2007).

A British study by Dodd (2009) evaluated a support group for women and their pre-school children who were victims of domestic violence. The Young Children and Mothers Group served 10 mothers and their children with the goals of providing therapeutic play therapy for the children, a separate support-group environment for the mothers, followed by a Theraplay experience, which is a play therapy modality for both mothers and children designed to promote secure attachment (Dodd, 2009). Qualitative interviews with the mothers and group leaders indicated that the group experience positively influenced the mother-child interactions and improved the psychological well-being of the adult participants (Dodd, 2009). The interviews also indicated that some of the mothers felt the concurrent model of separating from their children during the group process allowed them to share things with one another that they would not have had their children been present.

Another successful implementation of the concurrent group therapy model was used with children diagnosed with selective mutism and their parents (Sharkey, McNicholas, Barry, Begley & Ahearn, 2008). The groups ran for an eight-week period, and for the parents focused on psychoeducation regarding selective mutism, behavioral management strategies, and support from other parents in a similar situation. The children’s group had a cognitive-behavioral focus designed specifically to reduce anxiety, while also working on building social skills. Findings indicated that children improved their ability to speak at school and in other external settings and in social situations while self-rating scales of parents indicated a decrease in their own anxiety. Six-month follow-up data indicated that results were maintained (Sharkey et al., 2008). However, the sample size was quite small, with only five children and seven parents participating in the study. The authors did not identify this modality as concurrent group therapy, nor do they give any specific reasons for using concurrent group therapy as the chosen modality.

An additional example of concurrent group therapy took place with parents whose children were receiving group cognitive behavioral therapy for severe anxiety (Monga, Young, & Owens, 2009). The children were aged five to seven years old and their group focused on developing CBT skills to manage their symptoms of anxiety. Fourteen children worked with the CBT group therapist while parents met in a separate group. The concurrent parent group focused on psychoeducation regarding childhood-onset anxiety disorders, behavioral management strategies for parents, support, and skill-building for the parents to help their children learn relaxation and desensitization skills. The concurrent group model of using CBT to treat anxiety was found to have a positive impact with parents reporting a better understanding of their children’s anxiety and improvement in their ability to manage their children’s behavior. Children reported an improved ability to recognize anxiety symptoms and verbalize anxiety and reported an overall decrease in anxiety (Monga et al., 2009).

An exploratory study of an eight week concurrent group therapy model for children of divorced parents was found by the authors to appear to have a positive impact (Rich, Molloy, Hart, Ginsbury & Mulvey, 2007). The children’s group focused on talk, play therapy and art designed to help process the divorce related transitions taking place in the children’s lives, while the parents’ group was psychoeducational and supportive in nature. However, formal data collection did not take place in this study, so the findings remain anecdotal (Rich et al., 2007).

Bereavement groups are probably the most widely known for using the concurrent group therapy model. In 2009, The Dougy Center, the National Center for Grieving Children and Families, located in Portland, Oregon served 450 children and 350 parents by offering approximately 26 bimonthly concurrent support groups for parents whose children and teenagers are also participated in age-appropriate bereavement groups (The Dougy Center, 2010). The Dougy Center identifies their group services as a peer support model, with the identified client as the child who is dealing with the death of a family member and concurrent services provided for the parents (The Dougy Center Mission Statement, 2010). Although this is a well-known national organization and has served as a model for other bereavement programs, it is unclear in their literature as to why the concurrent group model is used as their primary modality.

Another reported successful concurrent pre-bereavement group model took place in Worchester, England through the services of St. Richard’s Hospice. Their services were identified as a pre-death support group for families with a terminally ill parent (Popplestone-Helm & Helm, 2009). Although they used a concurrent group therapy model, the authors of the study identifies the modality as a ‘sub-grouping’ of adults and ‘sub-grouping’ of children. Children and parents in separate groups often participated in similar activities and then reconvened as a large group with representatives from each subgroup sharing feedback about the group experience (Popplestone-Helm & Helm, 2009). The concurrent group therapy modality was chosen particularly for this population to allow for the healthy, care-giving parents to participate in a support group with those also struggling with the imminent death of their partner. Data gathered through anonymous questionnaires indicated that the participants found the group experience to be helpful and healing (Popplestone-Helm & Helm, 2009).

One final reported successful model of concurrent group therapy took place for a group for chronically ill children and their parents. Known as the Terrific Tuesday Group, this model met for six to eight group sessions with a theoretically eclectic orientation and highly structured format (Curle, Bradford, Thompson, & Cawthron, 2005). Independent qualitative analysis using grounded theory demonstrated that parents found that the both parents and children felt the groups reduced isolation and empowered both populations to feel that things were not as ‘badly off’ as they had originally thought prior to group participation (Curle et al., 2005). Some of the parental feedback indicated that parents did not always feel like the parent group was a necessary part of the treatment process, which may have some implications for the general utilization of concurrent group therapy model. Again, the missing aspect to this research study is why the research team chose the concurrent group model as their modality. 


Banach, M., Iudice, J., Conway, L., Couse, L. (2010). Family support and empowerment: post autism diagnosis for parents. Social Work with Groups, 33, 69-83.

Berry, M. McCauley, K. & Lansing, T. (2007). Permanency through group work: a pilot intensity unification program. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 24, 477-493.

Curle, C., Bradford, J., Thompson, J., Cawthron, P. (2005). Users view of a group therapy intervention for chronically ill or disabled children and their parents: towards a meaningful assessment of therapeutic effectiveness. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 10, 509-527.

Dodd, L.W. (2009). Therapeutic groupwork with young children and mothers who have experienced domestic abuse. Educational Psychology in Practice, 25, 21-36.

Foreman, T., Willis, F., & Goodenough, B. (2005). Hospital-based support groups for parents of seriously unwell children: an example from pediatric oncology in Australia. Social Work with Groups, 28, 3-21.

Goh, C., Lane, A., Bruckner, A., (2007). Support groups for children and their families in pediatric dermatology. Pediatric Dermatology, 24, 302-305.

Goodman, H. (2004). Elderly parents of adults with mental illness: group work interventions. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 44, 173-188.

Gruber, E., Kajevic, M., Agius, M., Martic-Biocina, S.(2006). Group psychotherapy for parents of patients with schizophrenia. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 52, 487-500.

Levac, A., McKay, E., Merka, P., Reddon-D’Arcy, M.L. (2008).Exploring parent participation in a parent training program for children’s aggression: understanding and illuminating mechanisms of change. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 21, 78–88.

Levin, A. (1992). Groupwork with Parents in the Family Foster Care System: A Powerful Method of Engagement. Child Welfare, 71, 457-473.

Monga, S., Young, A., Owens, M. (2009). Evaluating a cognitive behavioral therapy group program for anxious five to seven year old children: a pilot study. Depression and Anxiety, 26, 243-250.

Pickett, S., Heller, T & Cook, J. (1998).Professional-led versus family-led support groups. The Journal of Behavioral Health Sciences and Research, 25, 437-445.

Ruffalo, M.C., Kuhn, M.T., & Evans, M.E. (2006). Developing a parent-professional team leadership model in group work: work with families with children experiencing behavioral and emotional problems. Social Work, 51, 39-47.

Sharkey, L., McNicholas, F., Barry, E., Begley, M., Ahearn, S. (2008) Group therapy for selective mutism: A parents’and children’s treatment group. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry 39, 538-545.

The Dougy Center – The National Center for Grieving Children & Families, 2010, (n.d.).Mission & History.Retreived from

Beth Counselman Carpenter, MSW, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist currently in private practice in Norwalk, CT. Beth holds an undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Richmond and a Masters in Clinical Social Work from New York University. Beth is currently a PhD candidate in clinical social work at Adelphi University.

Beth specializes in treating depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, grief and bereavement, life change issues, LGBTQ issues and job concerns as well as postpartum depression, parenting and early childhood issues. She can be reached at


Brief Articles

Group Work with College Students: Integrating Models of Psychosocial Development

Jeritt R. Tucker, MS
Jeritt R. Tucker, MS

Jeritt R. Tucker, MS
Doctoral Candidate, University of Iowa

Although developmental models lie at the foundation of counseling psychology as a discipline (Evans, Forney, Guido, Patton, & Renn, 2009), there are few examinations of developmental models as they relate to group psychotherapy. Of these articles, even fewer focus on the development of college students (Winston, Warren, Miller, & Dagley, 1988), despite the fact that late late-adolescence is a crucial stage in most identity development models (Evans et al., 2009) and that specialized support and guidance is critical for individuals in this stage (Theodoratou-Bekou, 2008). One foundational approach to college student development—psychosocial identity development theory (primarily Erikson, 1968, 1980; Marcia 1980, 1994; and Chickering & Reisser, 1993)—is particularly applicable to group psychotherapy. These models examine how persons successfully resolve developmental tasks through altering their view of self (self-concept), relationships with others (interdependence), and what to do with their lives (derivation of meaning; Evans et al., 2009).

Based on my own more thorough review of this literature, I would like to posit the following five primary recommendations for group work with college student populations:

  1. A critical task in college student development is corroboration of one’s internal experiences with peer reactions and group acceptance (Erikson, 1968). Emphasizing group norms early and often through open processing of “breaches” of group guidelines (advice-giving or obstinate silence) is recommended. Nonjudgmental appeals to other members, rather than directly correcting or identifying breaches, are preferred.
  2. Problems of intimacy (e.g. over identification or inappropriate self-disclosure) are developmentally appropriate for college students and may not be indication of psychopathology (Erikson, 1968). Cohesion building, rather than diagnosis and direct intervention, is a potentially effective antidote to such behaviors.
  3. Imitative behavior and defensiveness may be struggles for foundational identity that are common at this age (Marcia, 1994). Leaders are encouraged to not interpret such resistance but empathize and subtly address it through modelling behaviors.
  4. Fostering healthy interdependence with other members is an effective antidote for clients who exhibit continual needs for reassurance and support (Chickering & Reisser, 1993). Group leaders aware of these patterns may thus look at improving interpersonal communication as a primary means of intervention; perhaps through having other members identify and state specific interpersonal reactions.
  5. College students’ capacity for intimacy; ability to be flexible in tolerating differences in relationships; ability to develop a sense of self in relation to social, historical, and cultural contexts; and ultimately develop personal stability depends on an exploration of multiculturalism (Chickering & Reisser, 1993).  Didactic instruction or intervening at choice-points related to multiculturalism should occur early in group to establish their importance and normalize related struggles.

These recommendations come from consideration of the specific developmental needs of college student groups based on theories of psychosocial development. They generally emphasize greater empathy with college student clients through understanding their unique struggles with identity development and key differences from adult and adolescent populations. A more thorough examination of this rich body of literature may thus offer group therapists even greater awareness of when developmental needs may manifest as choice points and how to effectively intervene.


Chickering, A., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Erikson, E. (1980). Identity and the life cycle. New York: Norton. Erikson, E. (1968) Identity:Youth and crisis. New York: Norton.

Evans, N., Forney, D., Guido, F., Patton, L., & Renn, K. (2009). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Marcia, J. (1994). The empirical study of ego-identity. In H. A. Bosma, T.L.G. Graafsma, H. D. Grotevant, & D. J. de Levita (Eds.), Identity and development: An interdisciplinary approach (pp. 67-80). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Marcia, J. (1980). Identity in adolescence. In J. Adelson (Ed.), Handbook of adolescent psychology(pp. 159-187). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Theodoratou-Bekou, M. (2008). Psychological maturing and coping strategies: Study based on group process. Groupwork, 18(1), 76-98.

Winston, R., Warren, B., Miller, T., Dagley, J. (1988). Promoting student development through intentionally structured groups. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Jeritt is a 4th year doctoral student in counseling psychology at Iowa State University.  His research objectives include 1) better understanding how stigma interferes with seeking psychological help; and 2) leader characteristics and interventions that best attend to multicultural concerns (particularly religious and spiritual content) and facilitate cohesion to improve client outcomes.

Committee Reports

Finance Committee Report

Rebecca MacNair-Semands, PhD, CGP
Rebecca MacNair-Semands, PhD, CGP

Rebecca MacNair-Semands, PhD, CGP

Division 49 ended 2013 with over $51,000 in income, including royalties from the journal at $47,812 (above the projected amount of $36,600). Dues were down significantly this year after making an intentional decision to reduce fees to be more in line with other divisions, with dues totaling $3,859 income this year (down from $6,311 but slightly above our projected amount of $3703).

We were able to reduce our newsletter costs by over 50% from 2012 by using the website for more detailed reports and shifting to an electronic version after the first edition of the year (spending over $6,200 in 2012 and only $3,020 in 2013). After contributing to the Foundation and coming in under projected budget at both conferences, our final expenses totaled just over $33,000 (compared to over $37,000 in the previous year). We remain strong in our net assets with investments totaling $43,605.

In 2014, we are expecting to bring in approximately $3,775 in dues. However, the 2014 year should provide further savings as we explore low-cost newsletter options that many divisions are using. We added a newsletter stipend of $2,000 as funds allow which began in November of 2013. We will be able to split the journal editor monies between the current Editor and Washington State (Pullman) beginning in 2014 to provide more flexibility in the release of funds. The finance committee is exploring shifting a portion of our short-term investments to funds that bring in more interest, as our balance has been stable for several years. Journal royalties are projected at $40,000 for 2014. Please see the entire projected budget for 2014 for details, which will also be placed on the website.






Committee Reports

Early Career Group: Diversity in Group Therapy

Jennifer Alonso, PhD
Jennifer Alonso, PhD

Jennifer Alonso, PhD

On January 14 2014 the ECP group of the Membership Committee hosted a conference call on “Diversity in Group Therapy.” The purpose of these calls is to provide a space for questions, dialogue, resources and support. The topic of diversity was selected given the significant impact diversity factors have on group dynamics and process. Recognizing and addressing group members and leaders values, assumptions, bias, and here-and-now reactions is important in creating a space for safety and honesty. This included at least the following aspects of diversity: culture, race, gender, sex, class, religion or spirituality, age and disability. Callers from across the United States described various ways to introduce, discuss, and deepen discussions regarding diversity characteristics present in the group. Leaders may find that creating the norm that the group will be welcoming and affirming begins during the group screening appointment. Other norms to start include: introducing early in the group’s development the idea that diversity will be discussed early on; inquiring about aspects of members’ identity they may be uncomfortable sharing or have difficulty hearing about from other members.  Participants in the call shared that early in group it can be helpful to acknowledge that discussing diversity can be uncomfortable and difficult. Addressing the process may assist members in beginning to discuss diversity without realizing it. Encouraging members to reflect on their previous experiences with discussing diversity can help the leader gauge why they may initially feel unsafe or attacked in group. Work to establish a guideline that members can share their identities and that the group can experiment with using the language preferred by that group member. Afterward, a shift towards content and here-and-now reactions can continue fluidly. Similarly, callers shared that group members have valued when members or leaders of either a different or similar diversity background have dialogued with them.  Given the sensitive nature of diversity discussions, normalize that strong emotions can occur. Group leaders can intervene if a group member says something that is offensive. Providing psychoeducation (e.g., microaggressions) or discussing the importance of language can assist members in being more aware of the words and language used, and the reactions it may bring up in others. Similarly, members might find that processing perceived similarities and differences can end up enhancing cohesion and safety. See below for a list of resources shared during the call:

Research by Eric Chen: Intergroup dialogue regarding multiculturalism and social justice

  • Research by Joe Miles: Group Climate/Intergroup dialogue
  • Research by Nina Brown: Book: Psychoeducational Groups: Process and Practice (2011). New York: Routledge.
  • Shulman, L. The Dynamics and Skills of Group Counseling (Cengage Publishers, 2011)
  • Shulman, L. “Learning to talk about taboo subjects: A lifelong professional task.” In R. Kurland and A. Malekoff (Eds.), Stories celebrating group work: It’s not always easy to sit on your mouth. New York: Haworth Press. (Co-published simultaneously in Social Work with Groups, 25(1)).
  • Shulman, L., & Clay, C. (1994). Teaching about practice and diversity: Content and process in the classroom and the field [Videotapes]. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.
  • Shulman, L. (2014) “Unleashing the Healing Power of the Group: The Mutual Aid Process”. In J. DeLucia-Waack, C. Kalodner & M. Riva (Ed.), The Handbook of Group Counseling and Psychotherapy (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Continue to “like” us on Facebook where you can receive the “Wisdom in Wednesdays”, a weekly group therapy tip written by the ECP members.

Book Review

After School Prevention Program for At Risk Students

Kelly Devinney, MA
Kelly Devinney, MA

Kelly Devinney, MA
Research Assistant to Aaron T. Beck

Elaine Clanton Harpine’s latest book, After School Prevention Program for At Risk Students, utilizes her own reading program, Reading Orienting Club, as a model for prevention programs for children and adolescents. This text is scholarly yet reader-friendly. It is written without jargon and addresses major issues which arise while working with an at risk population. Additionally, it effectively addresses multiple facets of group cohesion, cultural needs, multiple teaching strategies, along with many problems solving skills.

Utilizing her 41 years of experience,  the text showcases innovative strategies for both learning and mental health. Her book is jam packed with interactive techniques to foster learning and education, which directly affects a child’s self-esteem and self-efficacy. She states “this is a real-world learning laboratory” and provides detailed descriptions indicating how to mimic this style. “After school prevention program for at risk students” stresses the importance of group cohesion while appropriately addressing the need to divide the group when a small sub group is misbehaving. Overall, the author details the need to tailor the group to meet the needs of each child. Whether it be cultural, gender, or social economic status adaptation this program remains enjoyable yet focuses on learning.

Each chapter begins with a case example and concludes with a real world application and troubleshooting checklist to help parse through complicated issues that may arise while planning an after school prevention program.   She poses questions to consider prior to engaging in group work and this book can act as a “how-to” model for such programs. As a result of her vast experience in group prevention programs with all age groups this book is also helpful for experienced professionals who may want to adapt their current program to a more hands-on approach. Additionally, she provides enough vivid examples where this type of prevention program can be modified to fit many type of programs, not just reading programs. This book is especially helpful for the new professional or those just beginning to work in group settings.

One controversial issue discussed in this book is whether a child should be extrinsically rewarded for good behavior (Eg: prizes, candy, stickers). The author indicates all motivation should be intrinsic so the child learns to motivate themselves. Although research is present to support both sides, evidence indicates teaching consequences for behavior is imperative in producing durable change. When a child is reprimanded for poor behavior, being rewarded for positive behavior is sensible and teaches the behavior consequence model. In at risk populations it is essential to teach consequences for actions at an early age. Many of the children in this population have parents with inconsistent parenting styles where positive behavior is not reinforced, but negative behavior is punished. By creating a system in group where the child is rewarded for positive and reprimanded for negative it creates the link between behavior and consequence which can be the first step to eliciting intrinsic motivation.

Overall, Clanton Harpine’s book is research based, conceptually sound, and packed with rich examples. It is helpful for any professional attempting to create a group prevention program for students.

Kelly Devinney is a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Aaron T. Beck Psychopathology Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania.


Attorney General Holder to Keynote APA-ABA National Conference on Confronting Family and Community Violence

Violence in homes and communities, its impact on children and families and how to confront the issue effectively are the focus of the joint APA and American Bar Association continuing education conference. “Confronting Family and Community Violence: The Intersection of Law and Psychology“ will be held May 1-3 in Washington, DC. Keynote speaker, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. will discuss recent national efforts to address the impact of violence on children and families, including his Defending Childhood initiative.