News Flash – Update: Division 49 Journal Group Dynamics

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

We are pleased to announce that the 2-year impact factor for the Division 49 journal Group Dynamics has risen to 1.64 for the year 2017. This represents a significant increase from the previous year and puts Group Dynamics within the top 50% of journals in its category. The impact factor represents the number of times journal articles are cited by other scholars in a given year relative to the number of articles published. Congratulations to the editor, David Marcus and his team of associate editors for this achievement.


Evidence-Based Case Study Guidelines: Group Dynamics

Group Dynamics issues an open call for authors to submit an Evidence-Based Case Study for possible publication. Developing such a series of Evidence-Based Case Studies will be extremely useful in advancing the evidence for group psychology and group psychotherapy. Group practice for this call is defined broadly to include therapy groups, teams, organizations, and other group contexts.

The goal of these Evidenced-Based Case Studies is to integrate verbatim case material from the group with standardized empirical measures of process and outcome evaluated at different times during the life of the group, team or organization. That is, authors should describe vignettes highlighting key interventions, processes, and mechanisms regarding their specific approach in the context of empirical scales.

Such an investigation will provide much needed information to bridge the gap between research and practice. Evidence-based case studies will also provide an important model of how to integrate basic research into applied work in therapy, team, and organizational contexts. This will open an avenue for publication to those in full time private practice, those who work primarily as consultants, or organizations and teams that integrate research measures into their applied work. Finally, this approach to studying group phenomena may provide a list of systematic case studies from various forms of treatment and interventions that meet the American Psychological Association’s criteria for Evidence-Based Practice (APA, 2006) as well as the Clinical Utility dimension in the Criteria for Evaluating Treatment Guidelines (APA, 2002).

Authors who are interested in preparing an Evidence-Based Case Study must follow these guidelines:

  1. The report must include the assessment (from the individual group member or independent rater perspective at the group level, but not only the therapist/leader) of at least two standardized empirical outcome measures related to team, organization, or group objective. Optimally, such a report would include several outcome measures assessing a wide array of functioning such as: global functioning, team or organizational objectives, target symptoms, subjective well-being, interpersonal functioning, social/occupational functioning, and measures of personality,
  2. The report must also include at least one empirical process measure (e.g., therapeutic alliance, session depth, emotional experiencing, team functioning, organizational cohesion) evaluated on at least three separate occasions.
  3. At minimum, specific outcome data should be presented using standardized mean difference (i.e. effect size) and clinical significance methodology (i.e. unchanged, reliable change, movement into functional distribution, clinically significant change, and deterioration [see Jacobson et al. 1999]). Group Dynamics encourages submission of both successful and unsuccessful cases. In addition, it might be instructive to compare and contrast the technical interventions that occurred during a positive change case with that of an unchanged or deteriorated case from the same approach.

The Evidence-Based Case Study section is not necessarily for advanced statistical time series analyses of process or outcome data, although such articles would be welcomed. Simple analyses of standardized outcome measures by way of clinical significance and effect size methods are sufficient.

  1. Verbatim vignettes with several group participant and therapist/leader turns highlighting key interventions, processes, and mechanisms of change must be provided. Discussion of any therapeutic or group-level interventions should not be presented only from a global or abstract perspective.
  2. Manuscripts must be within the journal word limit as indicated on the journal web site.
  3. Appropriate informed consent must be obtained from participants, and the study must be approved by an internal review board. The author must indicate that vignettes were sufficiently de-identified to protect confidentiality and privacy.

The following provide examples of what an Evidence-Based Case Study article might look like:

Granasen, M. & Andersson, D. (2016). Measuring team effectiveness in cyber-defense exercises: A cross-disciplinary case study, Cognition, Technology & Work, 18, 121–143.

This study reported on simulated exercises to assess team functioning and effectiveness in repelling cyber attacks. Team performance (outcome), team cognition (processes within teams) were assessed and reported. The authors provided recommendations to enhance team performance. However, missing from this case study were vignettes to illustrate the concepts.

Maxwell, K., Callahan, J. L., Holtz, P., Janis, B. M., Gerber, M. M., & Connor, D. R. (2016). Comparative study of group treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychotherapy, 53, 433-445.

The authors assessed a new potential group treatment for PTSD compared to cognitive processing therapy  (CPT) as a pre-cursor to a randomized controlled trial. Two groups from each treatment type were compared. The authors measured outcomes but did not provide process measures. Several clinical vignettes illustrate the treatments.

Tasca, G. A., Foot, M., Leite, C., Maxwell, H., Balfour, L., & Bissada, H. (2011). Interpersonal processes in psychodynamic-interpersonal and cognitive behavioral group therapy: A systematic case study of two groups. Psychotherapy, 48, 260-273.

Outcomes were measured outcomes pre- and post-treatment (effect sizes and reliable change indices) comparing two group therapists who were highly adherent to their specific treatment approach. The authors measured interpersonal processes at three time points from observer ratings of video recordings. Outcomes were measured using standardized scales. Clinical vignettes illustrated the differing interpersonal styles between the two group therapists.

Authors who have conducted an effectiveness or efficacy trial on a particular type of intervention in which they collected standardized process and outcome measures in addition to the use of audio/videotape of sessions should consider submitting an Evidence-Based Case Study. Likewise, a clinician in private practice, or a team or organizational consultant who would like to add these elements at the start of a new or existing group or team should also consider submitting an Evidence-Based Case Study.

Group Dynamics will begin accepting submissions for Evidence-Based Case Studies starting January 2019.  Anyone who may have an interest in submitting an Evidence-Based Case Study is encouraged to contact the editor.


American Psychological Association, (2002). Criteria for evaluating treatment guidelines. American Psychologist, 57, 1052–1059.

American Psychological Association, (2006). Evidence-based practice in psychology. American Psychologist, 61, 271–285.

Jacobson, N., Roberts, L., Berns, S., & McGlinchey, J. (1999). Methods for defining and determining the clinical significance of treatment effects: Description, application, and alternatives. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 300–307.

Columns Leadership Welcome

President’s Column: Irvin Yalom and the Fiction in Stories of Group Therapy

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

At this year’s APA convention I will have the honour to introduce Irvin Yalom at a special conversation hour on Thursday August 9 at 11am. Dr. Yalom will receive an award from our Division celebrating his lifetime of work as it pertains to group psychotherapy, and acknowledging the great influence he has had on the field of study and practice. My first initiation to Yalom’s writings was as an intern back in the 20th century. I was given his book The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy (3rd edition), and told to read it by my supervisor because I was to participate in an inpatient group with her the next morning. Well, for those of you who know The Book, it’s not a volume that one reads in a day, rather one studies it over many days/weeks/months/years. Nevertheless, I gamely pored over it, understanding some but not much of the content. All I remember from the next day’s group was that most of what happened went over my head, and that my supervisor seemed to know what she was doing, though I didn’t know why. Maybe that is why it felt that the post-group discussions that day (and others in which I’ve participated over the years) seemed like fiction to me – that is, narratives constructed by therapists to make sense of what had occurred. I wonder if that is why Irvin Yalom turned to fiction particularly later in his career when trying to bring to life the complexity and mystery of what occurs in human interactions and group psychotherapy in particular. In Every Day Gets a Little Closer, Yalom told a true (?) story of treating a young writer, Ginny, who had writer’s block and limited funds to pay for treatment. They struck a deal in which Yalom and Ginny wrote parallel journals of each therapy session. Sure, there were some similarities in what they wrote, but there were also striking disparities that showed how widely two people can diverge in their narratives of the same events. Was this two people simply telling their versions of what occurred or was this fiction? What happens when you put 8 people together in a group – do we get 8 versions of events? Recently, a member of one of my groups, Jim, retold a distressing incident that occurred several weeks ago, but this time he described the event with considerably less distress and even flippantly. Another group member piped up and said: “that’s not how you described it last time!” What ensued was one of those discussions in group therapy about who said what, that as an intern I would have found pointless. Except it’s not pointless. People construct narratives (fictions?), and the narratives say something about who we are and how and what we need to do to manage. And just as importantly, the construction of the narratives tells us something about the nature of the relationships we are in when recounting the story. Jim needed to retell the story to his self and to the group differently this time, and to some extent this said something about his relationship to the group. In his novel When Nietzsche Wept, Yalom writes in part about the start of modern psychotherapy through a fictional encounter between Friedrich Nietzsche and Joseph Breuer. Psychotherapy, or psychoanalysis, likely had its start with Studies in Hysteria by Breuer and Freud – including the Case of Anna O. So, why did Yalom write of a fictional encounter between two historical figures to describe the birth of “the talking cure”, when perfectly good case studies written by the founders already existed? Was Yalom’s fiction more compelling or instructive than Breuer and Freud’s truth (can one even say that Studies in Hysteria was the truth)? Similarly, what I wrote in a few lines about Jim and my group was a distillation of a 90-minute session and a longer history of relationships between group members – how “true” can that be? (Should we go down that rabbit hole?). Irvin Yalom has had an important impact on my work and on my outlook on what I do as a group psychotherapist and group researcher. Some of that impact has come from his scholarly work (especially The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy), but his fiction and his “non-fiction” has had an equal impact. I will try not to gush when introducing him on August 9th, but I may not be able to help myself – and that’s the truth, I think.


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:

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.