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!