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 email@example.com.
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.
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)
This is our second column on our series on developing training programs in group prevention. In our last column, two experts in the field of group prevention, Robert K. Conyne, Ph.D. and Arthur M. Horne, Ph. D., presented two perspectives on training prevention groups: (1) the American Psychological Association Guidelines for Prevention in Psychology (APA, 2013) and (2) training with an awareness toward social justice. We received a response to that column and continue the discussion.
EDITORIAL QUESTION POSED:
Dear Prevention Corner:
I read the column each time, and I know that you are talking about training programs at the college level—course work training. My question though is: what is the best way to train workers for a community or school program? I attended your APA convention workshop a couple of years ago on developing and designing group prevention programs. I came home excited and overflowing with ideas. I followed the workbook that you gave us, set up my program, held a training session, but then I ran into a brick wall. I work in a school where half of our students drop out before graduation because they cannot read. I want to keep students in school by helping them learn to read. The other teachers who volunteered to work in the program wouldn’t listen; they went back to teaching reading using the same way they have for years. My program failed. How can I train people to use these new prevention ideas?
In Need of Help.
Dear In Need of Help:
I want to thank you for bringing to the discussion a very important point that we have failed thus far to emphasize: training in group prevention must include (1) training at the university level for professionals planning to specialize and work with prevention groups and (2) training in the community or at the prevention group level with volunteers, health practitioners, teachers, or others who may be leading or working with prevention groups. While it is essential that we increase course work and training at the university level, it is just as essential that we provide effective training programs for volunteers or others who use the group prevention format.
Universities do not always see the necessity for adding new courses in group prevention, and community and school prevention groups do not always see the need for extensive training in prevention techniques and interventions. Change is often hard to accept.
Introducing a change or new group prevention approach for solving an old established long-standing problem is even more difficult. I truly understand your frustration, and trust me, you are not alone. I just spoke this past week with a nurse working with obesity prevention groups. She was also complaining that her prevention group leaders would not change and try new prevention techniques. Her nursing staff was accustomed to lecturing to obesity patients and therefore saw no need to change to a more interactive format.
In reading, change is twice as hard. You are not only trying to train workers to use new group prevention techniques (such as cohesion and interaction); you are also trying to train workers to use a totally new and different approach to teaching reading.
According to the Nation’s Report Card, approximately 40% of students across the nation are unable to read at grade level (Nation’s Report Card, 2013). This is not a new statistic, and the problem did not occur yesterday. The problem has been compounding without any sign of significant improvement for the past 12 years. With such a staggering history of failure, you would think that we would be eager to engage in a new approach. Such is not the case. Even after Congress commissioned the National Reading Panel (2000) to ascertain the most successful method for teaching reading and the panel stated that phonemic awareness (the teaching of sounds and decoding of sounds) was the best method for teaching students to read, the whole- language fight goes on.
The National Reading Panel (2000) stated emphatically that phonemic awareness worked better than “old style” phonics and better than whole-language—even blended methods. Yet, the majority of schools across the nation today still handout sight word strips for students to memorize each week (whole-language); even though, such methods have been proven ineffective (Blaunstein & Lyon, 2006; Fleming et al., 2004; Foorman et al., 2003; Keller & Just, 2009; McGuinness, 1997; National Reading Panel, 2000; Pullen Paige & Lane, 2014; Vaughn, Denton, & Fletcher, 2010). Phonemic awareness is not the same as old-style phonics or the new blended method. Shaywitz and Shaywitz (2007), Co-directors for the Yale Center for the Study of Learning, state it best: In order for a child to learn to read, the child must learn that (1) each and every word is composed of individual sounds (phonemes), (2) these sounds are represented by alphabetic letters, (3) some letters represent several sounds, and that (4) children or any struggling reader (Shaywitz, 2003) must learn how to pull words apart into their elemental phonemes and then put the letter sounds back together into words that have meaning.
Research has solidly proven that phonemic awareness (sounds) and the phonological understanding of those sounds and how they work together to form a word is by far the best way to teach children to read. Yet, there are still universities teaching new prospective teachers the whole-language method for teaching reading. Just this past week, a parent complained that her Kindergartener was failing because she could not memorize her sight word list each week (a whole-language technique). A college professor spoke to me recently and explained that all children need is more exposure to books. “If someone would just read to them, then the children could learn how to read.” Reading is a skill that must be taught; you cannot simply learn how to read by listening to someone else. Community groups are organizing to purchase and distribute new books in order to teach children to read, but simply handing a child a book, even a new book, will not teach the child how to read.
The newest trend is excitement. Pep rallies, costume characters, book collection drives, and free gifts are the latest fad in teaching children how to read. No, excitement is not the answer. Such an approach would be like giving someone a book in French. If they had not learned French, the book would be worthless because someone not schooled in reading French would not be able to read the book. Don’t get me wrong. I think that giving a child or teenager a book (new or used) is the best gift that you can ever give, but simply handing a child a book will not teach a child to read (even if the book is distributed through a very exciting program by a costumed character). You must teach the child to read first, and then give the child a book.
If you want to develop a group prevention program to teach children and teens to read, you must first combat this age old unwillingness to change from whole-language teaching techniques to phonemic awareness and phonological teaching techniques. Therefore, in your group prevention training program, you are not only teaching that prevention groups must be interactive (Conyne & Clanton Harpine, 2010); you must also prove that there is a need for a change and that prevention groups will offer the best means of change for your students. No, this will not be easy because you are combating years and years of denial. The challenge will be to change the ideology of your group leaders in respect to reading. You may not be able to accomplish this within the schools. If you encounter too much resistance to change, you might try establishing an after-school program through a community organization. After-school community-based programs can offer you more freedom and the opportunity to try new prevention ideas.
You may also find that you want to set up skill-building training sessions for your workers or volunteers so that they can learn how to work in a group setting. A prevention group is more than just a discussion, and it is certainly not the time for a lecture. Your training sessions may need to incorporate interaction and cohesion so that your workers can see how to use interaction and how to help group members build a cohesive group atmosphere. I find the best way to do this is by using group prevention techniques and interventions in my training sessions. Instead of the age old tradition of standing in front of your workers and explaining to them what you want them to do or lecturing to them about how the program will be conducted, set up training sessions that use a group prevention format. For example, I use group-centered prevention workstations for my program and my training sessions. In this way, workers and volunteers get to experience prevention techniques during the training program instead of just listening to me talk about interaction, cohesion, and working together as a group.
My answer to your question, how can you best teach people to use new prevention techniques, is to show your workers and volunteers how group prevention works during your training program. Let them experience group prevention in action.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Blaunstein, P., & Lyon, R. (2006). Why kids can’t read: Challenging the status quo in education. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Education.
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
Fleming, C. B., Harachi, T. W., Cortes, R. C., Abbott, R. D., & Catalano, R. F. (2004). Level and change in reading scores and attention problems during elementary school as predictors of problem behavior in middle school. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 12, 130-144.
Foorman, B. R., Breier, J. I., & Fletcher, J. M. (2003). Interventions aimed at improving reading success: An evidence-based approach. Developmental Neuropsychology, 24, 613-639.
Keller, T., A., & Just, M. A. (2009). Altering cortical connectivity: Remediation-induced changes in the white matter of poor readers. Neuron,64, 624-631. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.10.018
McGuinness, D. (1997). Why our children can’t read and what we can do about it: A scientific revolution in reading. New York: The Free Press.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). The nation’s report card: Reading 2013 (NCES 2012-457). National Center for educational statistics, Institute of education sciences, US Department of Education, Washington DC.
National Reading Panel, (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4754). Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.
Pullen Paige, C., & Lane, H. B. (2014). Teacher-directed decoding practice with manipulative letters and word reading skill development of struggling first grade students. Exceptionality, 22, 1.
Shaywitz, S. (2003). Overcoming Dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level. New York: Knopf.
Shaywitz, S. , & Shaywitz, B. (2007). Special topic: What neuroscience really tells us about reading instruction: A response to Judy Willis. Educational Leadership: Improving instruction for students with learning needs, 64(5), 74-76.
Vaughn, S., Denton, C. A., & Fletcher, J. M. (2010). Why intensive interactions are necessary for students with severe reading difficulties, Psychology in the Schools, 47, 432-444.
Somatization Disorder is a condition that is both hard to diagnose and hard to treat. For many years, I was Chief Psychologist of a thousand-bed hospital outpatient mental health clinic. While I mean absolutely no disrespect by this comment, I would classify many of the clients referred to as “sad ladies.” These were women with multiple medical folders with each thicker than the next. Their bodies were cross-hatched with medical and surgical interventions, all of which were ultimately futile. In a fit of irritation and despair, the most recent in a long line of defeated physicians would disclaim, “Get thee hence to the Outpatient Mental Health Clinic!” As a result, these dear ladies would show up in my office, rejected yet another time. Often, they were “empty nesters,” low in self-esteem and self-image, and cemented into maintenance type marriages. It became apparent to me that their numerous outpatient visits symbolically represented a deep need to be touched intimately by a caring human being.
In response to this obvious human need, I quickly designed an intensive six-week group therapy program composed of both experiential and didactic components. We covered such topics as communication skills, assertiveness training, and trust-building.
I remember clearly our very first meeting. The ladies introduced themselves one at a time, and each would outdo the next in terms of the doleful, painful details of her journey. I was astonished! I pointed out that they were competing for “Victim of the Day” awards, and, for now at least, I was less interested in what was wrong than what was right with them. I told them that they did not need to compete for my attention. I was aware that they were problematic individuals in pain and all were well worthy of my concern. After we got that initial dynamic out of the way, we launched into team-building, trust, self-disclosure, and interpersonal bonding. The ladies grasped these principles quickly and firmly, and it changed their lives. One group, because the chemistry was so great, made me an honorary woman at the end of the six weeks, an honor that I will always carry with me.
Another group that I remember with great fondness, at the end of our six weeks together, decided to carry on the group by themselves. They proceeded to hire an attorney, a financial planner, a personal trainer, and, of all things, a psychologist to provide them with ongoing therapy. The psychologist called me in great bewilderment indicating that the ladies had called him and were interviewing him to see if he met their criteria. He called me to ask if this was on the level. I told him it was and that he would be normously enriched if he passed the evaluation. When I left the base two years later, the group had started an investment club and had accomplished several humanitarian tasks. Their manifold visits to the hospital clinics had dramatically diminished.
This model can be replicated easily in many different settings. Once these powerful healing forces are energized and released, much positive change can occur. It is important to take this model very seriously. On the surface it looks very simple, but it is not at all. The twin concepts of intentional kinship and reciprocity are central components of my theoretical model, together with the ever-present mystery of agape.
As Chair of the Diversity Committee for Division 49, I wanted to focus my columns on building multicultural competency in group therapy practices with an emphasis on providing something useful to the practitioner. To set the stage, I’d like to review a bit of theory related to a particular debate in the late 1990s regarding the importance of emic (culturally specific) versus etic (culturally universal) factors related to multicultural competency. This debate was lively because around the same time mental health professionals were discovering that the medical model (treatment specific approach) did not do an adequate job of identifying what accounted for client change in psychotherapy. This was around the same time that Common Factors theory became quite popular. Common Factors theory research found that the factors that accounted for the greatest amount of client change in psychotherapy were actually those that were common or universal to the therapeutic relationship: client, therapist, and relational variables.
This finding probably did not surprise group therapists, particularly those who facilitated process oriented groups. It is the group interpersonal process, after all, that provides the curative factors resulting in the positive outcome of the individual. However, like physicists concluded when debating the wave versus the particle theory of light, and like biologists concluded when debating nature versus nurture, mental health researchers found that both emic and etic factors are important in client change or healing. I point this out because I think that we as group therapists may get a bit too comfortable with the etic side of the debate because, unless you are facilitating a culturally specific group such as “Estamos Unidas” (an outreach group for Chicana/Latina students offered by UC Irvine this Spring), you are likely to have a mix of folks with differing cultural backgrounds and beliefs, not to mention genders (the “a” on the end of Chicana/Latina indicates the group is for females), ethnicities, races, abilities, sexual orientations/gender identities, religious identities, ages, and socioeconomic/class statuses to name a few emic groupings. Although both types of groups would likely experience those 11 Therapeutic Factors identified by Irvin Yalom (Universality, Altruism, Instillation of Hope, Imparting Information, Developing Socializing Techniques, Interpersonal Learning, Cohesiveness, Catharsis, Existential Factors, Imitative Behavior, Self-Understanding, and the Corrective Recapitulation of the Primary Family Experience), it might be less clear in the mixed group how your emic skill-set might be useful.
In order to provide more clarity and, I admit, more encouragement to the practitioner to develop more multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skill about culturally specific issues, it might help to pose the following question: if the therapeutic effectiveness of group process comes from existential factors, which are those that are universal to all human experience, why apprise ourselves of human specific knowledge because how would this be useful? The answer actually lies within the question, which is: one of the existential challenges we all face is that we are “alone”, that is, that we are all individuals who are different. So while it is helpful for someone to learn “I’m not alone—all of us suffer at one point or another (‘I’m okay’)”, it is also helpful for someone to learn “I’m different so no wonder people respond to me in these ways/contexts—it’s not my imagination/I’m not crazy (‘I’m okay’)”. Therefore, I think group is a treatment where it’s important to emphasize both attachment/universality as well as separation/individuality because they are both an existential reality.
My goal in this column, as I noted earlier, is to provide something useful to the practitioner. Therefore, I encourage you to try a new intervention in one of your groups, the intent of which is to plant the seed and give permission for more multicultural discussions during the group process. That is, at the beginning of your group announce that you may be posing more cultural questions to the group so that members think more about how individual differences may play a role in their current experiences. Then ask both questions during the process: How are these struggles universal to all of you? How are these struggles specific to your particular cultural experience? These questions work in both heterogeneous and homogenous groups. If you don’t already ask these types of questions, I hope the answers you get increase your multicultural awareness and intrigue you enough to seek out more multicultural knowledge. It doesn’t have to be fancy, a simple intervention such as the one mentioned can really add to your multicultural skill set. By the way, if you haven’t already, check out the APA site regarding multicultural guidelines at: http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/policy/multicultural-guidelines.aspx?item=7. As always, I welcome questions, concerns and ideas for future columns. Please email me at: email@example.com
Fischer, A.R., Jome, L.M., & Atkinson, D.R. (1998). Reconceptualizing Multicultural Counseling: Universal Healing Conditions in a Culturally Specific Context. The Counseling Psychologist, 26, 525-588.
University of California, Irvine Counseling Center (n.d.). Groups at UC Irvine Counseling Center [www page]. URL http:// www.counseling.uci.edu/Students/groups.aspx
Yalom, I., & Leszcz, M. (2005). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy (5th ed.). New York: Basic Books.
Note. This is ‘Part II’ of an article included in the previous issue of The Group Psychologist. Click here to read Part I, which provided background information on concurrent group therapy and prior research on the topic. Part II below details the author’s pilot study.
Exploratory Study of Concurrent Group Therapy for Parents
This exploratory survey looks at the occurrence of concurrent group therapy for parents whose children are being treated in group therapy. The research questions explore the reported incidence of concurrent group therapy by members of the Association for Play Therapy (APT) listserv. Of the APT members surveyed, it was asked how many practice settings have groups, which group modalities are used, and if any groups are concurrent parents’ groups. The study questions concluded with respondents’ feedback identifying potential barriers to treatment of using concurrent group therapy as a treatment modality.
A quantitative survey with open and close-ended questions was created by the author to gather data for the study. The research protocol was approved by the Adelphi University Institutional Review Board for research with human participants. Survey questions were developed by the author and managed through SurveyMonkey software. Questions were presented in both a multiple choice and Likert Scale format. Open ended questions with dialogue boxes were included in order to facilitate more comprehensive data collection.
The sample was taken from the general listserv of the Association for Play Therapy, an international play therapy professional organization founded in 1982. The APT general listserv was chosen for the sample due to the high number of practitioners working with children who may also have contact with or work in a treatment context with the parents of the children in treatment. This author is a member of the Association for Play Therapy.
The invited respondents were participants in the General Community Listserv, an online email discussion group for international play therapists, although most participants are from North America and all are identified as being in good standing with APT. All participants had a valid email address and voluntarily participated in the study. The members of the APT listserv are diverse, both professionally and geographically and includes social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed professional counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health professionals, interns and students, both undergraduate and graduate-level. Currently, as reported in November 2010 by the Association for Play Therapy head office, there are 523 professionals that subscribe to the General Community Listserv.
Recruitment for the survey took place in two phases. All members currently enrolled in the listserv received an email with a paragraph explaining the purpose of the survey and a link to the informed consent form and the online survey, which was created through SurveyMonkey software. Ten days later, an additional email with the survey link was sent as a follow-up asking those whom had not yet participated to respond. Due to the anonymous construction of the listserv, it was not possible to only include non-respondents in the follow-up email. Participants did not receive any compensation or incentives for participation.
Profiles of Respondents and their Practices
Demographics. Seventy-three of 523 (14%) members of the listserv consented to participate in the study and answered at least some of the survey questions. Sixty-three of the 73 overall respondents shared their demographic information. Practitioners had a diverse orientation and some held multiple degrees or designations in the mental health field. Twenty-three respondents hold designations of LPC (Licensed Professional Counselors), 19 hold designations of MSW/LCSW (Masters of Social Work or Licensed Clinical Social Worker), 6 hold doctoral degrees such as a Ph.D., EdD. or Psy.D., 3 are LMHC/MHC interns (Mental Health Counselors), and two respondents hold international degrees.
The respondents also varied geographically. Of the 62 respondents that shared their geographic information, the majority were from the United States. Two respondents are international practitioners from the United Kingdom and France. The majority of respondents came from the South (24), with Texas as the highest represented state with six respondents. Fourteen respondents practice in the Northeast while 13 practice in the Midwest and 10 from the West.
Practice. All respondents identified themselves as practitioners working with children between the ages of 0-17. The type of settings in which the respondents practice significantly favored private practice. Forty respondents (62.5%) listed private practice as their primary service setting. Eleven respondents (17.2 %) ranked second as family service agency practitioners. Eight respondents (12.5%) practice in a mental health clinic while another nine respondents (12.5%) practice in school setting. Four responders practice in a Child Advocacy Center. The following settings were only identified by one respondent each: residential treatment facility, outpatient cancer center, inpatient psychiatric hospital, hospital community health center, consultant role and a university clinic for developmental disabilities.
Groupwork. Of the 73 study participants, only 22 respondents (30.1%) have at least one child-age client who participates in some form of groupwork. Of these 22 respondents, all but two respondents reported that 50% or less of their caseload of child-age clients actually participate in groupwork.
The majority of children participating in groupwork were identified as participating in social skills groupwork. In addition to the modalities listed on the survey, other forms of groupwork which respondents facilitate were identified as short-term brief group therapy, trauma-related sexual abuse groups, child-centered play therapy groups, bereavement/grief groups, and Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), a specific form of treatment for young children diagnosed with conduct disorder (http://pcit.phhp.ufl.edu, retrieved on December 5, 2010).
Parent participation. The majority of respondents (69 of 73) answered questions about parents participating in treatment. Sixty-one respondents (88.4%) reported that parents/guardians could also receive treatment at their place of service. However, of these 61 respondents, very few reported that parents participate in groupwork. Of the 58 who shared their estimation of the percentage of parents who receive any treatment at the place of service, 32 (55.1%) stated that none of the parents participate in group treatment. Another 15 respondents (25.9%) reported that less than 10% of parents who participate in treatment engage in groupwork. Only 5.2% reported that 50% of the parents participate in group work, and no one reported a higher rate than fifty percent.
Orientation of group therapy. Of the modalities listed, parents who participate in groups appear to most frequently participate in cognitive behavioral groups (33%) and/or substance abuse groups (25%). In addition to the group modalities listed on the survey, respondents were asked to identify other types of group therapy in which the parents participate. The following types of groups were also identified: non-offending parent/caregiver groups related to sexual abuse, CPRT (Child Parent Relational Training), Filial Therapy groups, family therapy groups, parenting groups, PCIT groups, support groups, psychoeducational groups, groups specifically relating to cancer, anger management groups, mandated domestic violence groups, humanistic/object relations groups, ‘transparenting’ groups, parent coaching, marital counseling groups, sex offender groups, and bereavement/grief groups.
Familiarity and use of Concurrent Group Therapy. Respondents were asked to share their familiarity with the modality of concurrent parent group therapy. Sixty-two respondents provided information on their familiarity with concurrent group therapy as a modality. Of these respondents, 21% reported they were completely unfamiliar with the modality, 30.6% reported they were mostly unfamiliar, 32.3% reported that they were somewhat familiar, and 16.1% reported that they were very familiar with concurrent group therapy.
Of the 62 respondents who answered this question about familiarity with concurrent group therapy, 31 (50%) offered detailed and diverse explanations in their answers to this open-ended question. One respondent stated “never heard the term” and another stated “not familiar”, while many reported vague familiarity, such as “have attended conferences where it was presented in detail” and “…have heard of some in the past” or “heard of it, never done it.” In contrast, many respondents reported familiarity with running parent groups, but not in conjunction with their children’s group treatment. One respondent stated, “I only know of parent support groups, not therapy group for parents, and have no knowledge of any providers doing group therapy in my area.” Other respondents stated they were familiar with blended parent-child groups such as those offered through filial therapy, conjoint therapy, and multi-family group therapy. Only three respondents (5%) answered with having direct contact or knowledge of concurrent parent therapy groupwork: one of whom uses this model at their agency; one of whom had experience with it at a prior agency; and one whose school district offered concurrent parent group therapy as a model.
The overwhelming majority of respondents do not offer concurrent parent group therapy as a treatment modality at their place of service. In fact, only 8 (12.9%) respondents work at a service site where concurrent parent group therapy is offered as a treatment option. Of these eight respondents, their experience with parents participating in concurrent group therapy varies considerably. Two respondents state that 100% of groups at their service sites are run concurrently, while the other 6 reported that they either “don’t know” the percentage of parents participating or their answers ranged from 0-20% as the reported participation rates. The types of concurrent parent group therapy were identified as social skills groups, task-oriented, cognitive-behavioral, substance abuse, and art/expressive therapy in addition to trauma-related, domestic-violence related, PCIT and NOPS (the author was unable to identify this type of group treatment), sexual abuse groups, and groups for parents who abuse their children. One respondent stated they did not know what type of concurrent group therapy was offered. In regards to the type of attendance, of these eight respondents, one stated that group attendance was mandatory, six stated it was voluntary, and one did not respond.
For parents who do not participate in concurrent group therapy, the majority of respondents (81%), stated that parents do not participate in group therapy because it is not offered at their place of service. Eight (12.7%) stated that parents chose not to participate in concurrent parent group therapy. Two respondents identified scheduling conflicts as the reason for not participating and two reported that they did not know the reason.
Respondents identified varied reasons for service locations not providing concurrent group therapy as a treatment option. However, the responses could be divided into various categories. Twelve respondents stated that their setting made offering the modality a challenge due to the fact that they were in a small private practice or small agency, worked in a school, or saw clients at their homes. Another common answer was that many of the respondents work in private practice as solo practitioners. One respondent stated “I run a private practice, not an agency. Group treatment is not part of our contracts with ‘referrants’.” Another primary reason cited was space limitations. Of the forty-six respondents who answered, seven respondents listed staffing as an issue, while six respondents cited space as the primary issue. Six respondents stated they had not considered using concurrent group therapy as a treatment modality. Five respondents listed that concurrent group therapy was not used due to unfamiliarity with the modality, and five stated that concurrent group therapy was not offered due to parent resistance, although it was not made clear if the parents were resistant to treatment overall or group treatment in particular. Billing issues were also mentioned. Three respondents stated that it was due to not being a reimbursable modality or was unfunded. Two respondents stated that time and scheduling were issues in offering this modality.
Respondents were asked choose their identified top three barriers to providing concurrent parent group therapy from a provided list. Sixty-two (62) respondents answered the question and the answers were ranked as the following listed in Table 1:
Table 1 – Ranking of identified barriers to treatment (respondents listed their top 3)
Staffing issues – 31
Child Care issues – 28
Time/Day of the group – 26
Space Constraints – 24
Billing Issues/Reimbursement for services – 20
Lack of client interest – 14
Practitioner’s lack of familiarity with the modality – 13
Other – 8
Of those that answered other, parental transportation issues was the number one answer. Additional “other” responses included: reimbursement issues; lack of interest both on behalf of the clients and of the practitioner; not enough homogeneity among parents; and it was unethical in their practice to use such a modality. One respondent also mentioned that the parents in their population believed it was the child who needs help and not the parent.
Respondents were given the opportunity to elaborate on their answers to identified barriers to treatment with an open-ended question. Thirty-five respondents chose to share their opinions as to why concurrent group therapy with parents was not used as a modality in their work. Most respondents shared reasons why any type of group therapy with parents is a challenge and/or may not be used in treatment. Resistance to treatment appeared to be one significant and underlying issue, both on the part of the parents and the therapists. For example, one respondent stated “…doing groups has its challenges in terms of billing, space, scheduling, so therapists tend not to pursue it, even though it may be a good offering for parents.” Child care of siblings, the second highest ranking identified barrier, also appears to be a significant issue in terms of staffing, affordability, and the space to offer it at the site of service. For those who identified staffing issues as a barrier, they stated that there was just not enough staff or that their practice was too small to offer group therapy as a viable option. Finally, a larger scale issue appears to be the type of service setting and how it relates to group therapy as a form of treatment. One respondent said, “…the contract with the agency mandates individual or family treatment. Group therapy is not an option.” Another said, “our agency only serves children” indicating that treatment for parents was not even an option.
Given the dearth of information discussing and showing the benefit of concurrent group therapy, it was anticipated that few practitioners would be incorporating this treatment modality into their practice. As previously discussed, this appears to be the case. An unexpected finding coupled with this was the percentage of therapists who admitted being unfamiliar with any group work, in addition to being unfamiliar with concurrent group therapy. While this may relate to the sample and diversity of the practitioners in the APT regarding the types of training curriculums of the various designations under which respondents practice, the unfamiliarity of group work practice with members of the Association for Play Therapy would be another facet to explore in future studies of group work with children and their parents. One final unanticipated finding that the frequency with which the role of identified patient may play in parents participating in group work. These results indicate the need to explore the meaning of the role of identified patient in family group work and how this factors into parental resistance and family services.
There were several reasons respondents identified as to why concurrent group therapy is not offered at their site. Less respondents than expected identified and discussed billing as a treatment barrier to providing concurrent group therapy as a treatment modality. Instead, other resource deficiencies presented much higher on the list of identified treatment barriers regarding space, time and the number of therapists able to provide services. Another unexpected result was the frequency with which transportation issues were identified in providing treatment services to families. Although it is mentioned only sporadically throughout the articles discussed in the literature review, the possible significance of the role of transportation difficulties in receiving services indicates a larger policy concern in service provision for families participating in treatment.
Another issue that highlights the need for further research is the high rate of responses that identify the significance of role of child care issues in working with families. Exploring successful models of agencies or other service sites that either provide some form of child care or reimbursement for child care while the parents participate in treatment would lead to a better understanding of how to address this issue.
This exploratory study had several methodological limitations. The first is that the data were collected through an online survey which often results in low response rates and can result in non-respondent bias (Monette, Sullivan & DeJong, 2008). Due to the nature of gathering online data, it is difficult to compare the respondent group to a subsample of non-respondents to manage the potential of non-respondent bias. Also, the online format of the survey requires a working knowledge and understanding of the English language, which may have excluded some international participants. Another issue with this data collection instrument and the anonymous response format is that there is no way of clarifying or elaborating on the answers given, particularly for the open-ended questions after the survey is submitted by the respondent.
Another limitation of the study is the sample population which contained a limited amount of respondents who work with parents and children participating in group therapy. A different purposive sample of group practitioners more familiar with group work modalities may provide alternative information regarding the incidence of concurrent group therapy for parents.
Based on the responses gathered, a complex picture of the needs of parents of children participating in group work emerges. While prior research clearly demonstrates that groups for parents and children are an effective way of providing services, concurrent group therapy appears to be an unfamiliar and under-utilized modality for most play therapists, despite their treatment population being primarily comprised of families who would potentially benefit from this holistic modality. The lack of familiarity with concurrent group therapy demonstrated by those surveyed sheds light on a potential gap in group curricula and trainings available. Further research into why this modality is not taught and/or how it can be incorporated into current group therapy curricula would provide further information.
The respondents also provided important implications for practice. Most private practitioners who responded stated that they were constrained by staff availability and space limitations for group work in general, let alone concurrent group therapy. Exploring the lack of presence of group therapy in play therapy private practice and how this can be addressed is another important piece of discovering ways of providing the most comprehensive services possible to families in treatment.
While this exploratory study successfully identified barriers to treatment regarding concurrent group therapy for parents whose children are participating in treatment, it is clear that more in-depth research is necessary. For those who present research on successful concurrent groupwork models, understanding the researcher’s or agency’s rationale for choosing it as a model would be helpful in developing more detailed data to analyze, would build upon the limited studies currently available, and would provide a rich addition to the knowledge base of group social work for children and their families. Focus groups for group work practitioners and in-depth qualitative interviews with family practitioners, both those who offer and do not offer concurrent group therapy treatment, would provide a richer understanding of how and why the modality is (or is not) used.
Concurrent group therapy continues to remain an under-recognized and under-utilized form of groupwork. However, the limited research published shows some promising results both in terms of successful implementation and the achievement of multiple treatment goals. In addition, this study’s respondents, many of them direct practitioners who work with families, appear to be curious about why and how concurrent groupwork might be implemented to complement the current and diverse forms of groupwork already in place. This study’s results present an opportunity for growth and development of this potentially rich and valuable addition to the other, more widely practiced groupwork modalities.
Association for Play Therapy (2010).About APT, Mission and Scope. Retrieved from http://www.a4pt.org/ps.aboutapt.cfm.
CHP Parent-Child Interactional Training (PCIT) (n.d.). What is it? Retrieved from http://pcit.phhp.ufl.edu.
Monette, D.R., Sullivan, T.J., DeJong, C.R. (2008). Applied Social Research: a tool for the human services, 7th edition. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing.
Greetings Division 49: My name is Chris Teja and I’ve recently come on board at Routledge as acquiring editor for our list of titles on group psychotherapy, among other subjects. As you may know, we publish books for a diverse array of professionals, academics, and researchers.
I’m writing to introduce myself, inform you of my new station, and to let you know that I am available as a resource to any of you who may be looking for an opportunity to develop or submit a book proposal. Basically I am very new to your subject area, and to the world of psychology/mental health in general, and I would welcome the opportunity to hear about your work as I endeavor to expand our offerings to the available literature on group work.
That being said, please do feel free to reach out to discuss publishing opportunities, have an informal chat about an idea you have, or even to just say hello. I’m looking forward to working with you, as a group, from here on out.
Chris Teja, Associate Acquisitions Editor
Routledge, Taylor & Francis
Direct line: 917-351-7166
The University of Pittsburgh will once again be hosting the Group Summit, a conference for UCC professionals (Staff, Trainees, etc.) promoting the values of Group Psychotherapy on July 21-22, 2014. It is a 2-day event, which will take place at the William Pitt Union, centrally located on the main campus of the University of Pittsburgh. It is an opportunity for staff to better understand the benefits of group psychotherapy and enhance their skills in the provision of group services.
This is the 3rd consecutive year that the University of Pittsburgh has presented the Group Summit, with each year being better than the last. The Summit is modeled after AGPA, with the first day (July 21) being reserved for experiential small group experiences, and the second day (July 22) containing seminars and presentations about a variety of group-related topics. Whether you are at a center attempting to build a group program or part of an already-thriving program, the Group Summit should be of interest. We are encouraging people to bring as many trainees as possible, as the Group Summit is an ideal way for new professionals to connect with peers and mentors who share a passion for group!
Breakfast will be provided both days. The Pitt Counseling Center will also be sponsoring a Happy-Hour event the evening of July 21 as an informal opportunity to meet other colleagues.
If you are interested in attending, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to register. Registration – One day = $55.00; Two days = $80.00.
If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me either by e-mail or phone (412-648-7930).
Tevya Zukor, Ph.D., CGP
Director, University Counseling Center
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
University of Pittsburgh
The Diversity Committee, a subcommittee under the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy, is currently asking our members to nominate a person or persons who have made significant contributions to group psychology practice, research, service, and/or mentoring, with a focus on promoting understanding and respect for diversity. The individual selected based on these nominations is then honored as an award recipient at the Annual APA Convention in August. Time is running out! Follow the directions below to nominate a candidate by July 1:
Please consolidate this information into one document and email it to the Diversity Committee Chair, Jeanne Steffen at email@example.com, by July 1, 2014
1. Include names phone numbers, program and institutional affiliations, APA divisional membership of yourself (the endorser) and of your nominee
2. Include a brief letter highlighting your nominee’s contributions in promoting understanding and respect for diversity in group psychology practice, research, service and/or mentoring.
Congratulations to Catherine T. Shea, Ph.D. Dr. Shea is the recipient of the Richard Morland Dissertation of the Year Award for 2013, which was awarded in 2014.
Goal Pursuit and the Pursuit of Social Networks
Five studies using diverse methods examine goal pursuit as an antecedent to social network structure, finding that self-oriented and affiliation-oriented goal pursuit evoke unique patterns of interpersonal perception and motivation which lead to the development of sparser and denser social networks, respectively. Study 1 serves as an empirical summary of our theorizing: individuals primed with dense networks feel more efficacious pursuing affiliation-oriented goals versus self-oriented goals, and individuals primed with sparse networks feel more efficacious pursuing self-oriented goals than individuals primed with dense networks. Study 2 finds a correlation between personal goals and network structure. Studies 3 and 4 experimentally demonstrate that reminders of self versus affiliation-oriented goals lead to different cognitively-activated network structures. Study 5 finds that individuals entering a new social network with strong career goals (self-oriented goals) develop significantly sparser local networks and attain more central network positions; the opposite pattern emerges for individuals pursuing strong social goals (affiliation-oriented goals). Individuals strongly motivated to pursue both goals lose the network structure benefits of having a strong career goal. Findings support the hypothesis linking personal goal pursuit to network structure, a novel approach to integrating psychology and networks research.