Book Review

Book Review: Impromptu Man by Jonathan D. Moreno

Joe Powers Ph.D
Joe Powers Ph.D.

In February 2013 I was in New York City and had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Modern Art for a show entitled: “Inventing Abstraction – 1910 to 1925.” When I arrived at the museum and went up the escalator to the exhibit, I was transfixed by a 30’ by 20’ network wall map that graphically displayed the connections that some 90 artists had had with each other via personal communications or actual meetings. These were the individual artists who played an important role in the creation of abstract painting, a radical departure from what had preceded in terms of art. The wall map delineated by color highlighting those artists who had more than 24 connections in the network and those artists who had less than 24 connections, graphically linking these many people. Pablo Picasso, Fernand Leger, Francis Picabla, Alfred Stiegliz, Wassily Kandinsky, and Guillaume Apollinaire were the major “stars” in this artistic social world.

The birth of abstract painting was embedded in social relations – these artists were not isolated individuals. They communicated with each other, formed schools, met frequently in groups in Munich, Berlin, Russia, and France, creating works that were certainly influenced by these relationships. Wassily Kandinsky, trained as a lawyer, but also a multi-talented artist, philosopher, a controversial charismatic leader, and a skilled marketer of his art, had a synesthetic sense (a person who could see colors in sounds) and was influenced by Arnold Schonberg’s music. When he attended a concert, Kandinsky could see colors in Schonberg’s music. His abstract art then became his endeavor to put colors on canvass, inspired by what Schonberg had created in his music.

On a wall in my office at McLean Hospital is a print of J. L. Moreno’s “Sociometric Geography of a Community – Map III” (from his epic work: “Who Shall Survive?”) that depicts the social relations of young juvenile delinquent girls in a treatment facility in Hudson, New York in 1932. This social network map portrays 13 cottages in which the young girls actually lived at the Hudson facility and contrasted their current living conditions with the cottages and people with whom they would like to live. 435 young teenagers made 4350 choices and, much like the Museum of Modern Arts’ graphic social network, their choices were graphically depicted. It is an extraordinary document, clearly demonstrating Moreno’s pioneering efforts to understand group psychology and to offer interventions that would remedy common individual and group problems. Giving the members of this Hudson community choices with whom and where they wanted to live was an empirical study for the purpose of reducing common events in this community: running away, violence, recidivism, and individual conflict. Moreno understood the intricacies of group ecology in a way that few theorists and practitioners at the time did.

impromptu manI mention these two social network displays, one from 1932 and another from 2013, to highlight the importance of Jonathan Moreno’s significant work detailing how his father, J..L. Moreno, impacted the historical, social, theatrical, philosophical, religious, political, psychiatric/psychological forces that are still emerging today. Reading his biography of his father could be likened to that social network wall map at the Museum of Modern Art. Moreno was simply at the center of multiple, multiple connections and a force in the development of our modern culture. Like Kandinsky, no matter in what direction you turned, J.L. Moreno was there: a creative, charismatic force, challenging the psychiatric hegemony of the times and daring to create theory and methods to promote growth in individuals, groups, and society. He, like no other, influenced many, many theorists and practitioners in the field of psychology, social psychology and sociology with his emphasis upon the importance of our “group health life” and the centrality of spontaneity and creativity in everyday living.

Jonathan Moreno has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the origins and development of group psychology and group psychotherapy. His book should be required reading for all graduate students and group practitioners in this field. This book is a compendium of contributions, innovations, controversies, and events in the life of J. L. Moreno which provide rich and long-needed testimony to the brilliance of this man. Here are several important highlights in Jonathan’s comprehensive biography of his father:

  1. “The God Player” – Moreno discovered early on that we are all fallen gods and, in the spirit of the religious traditions, he warmed himself up to take on the spirit of religious figures, even to the point, perhaps shrouded in his own self-proclaimed megalomania, where he wrote a book entitled, “The Words of the Father.” In contrast to the Bible and the Old Testament where frequently “God” was angry and demanding, the New Testament where the Son of God was charismatic and portrayed love and the golden rule, Moreno emphasized that within each of us is a godhead and that we approach our relationships in the spirit of “I-Thou.” Godhead need not only be externalized by the Old Testament, nor personified only in the personhood of the Son of God in the New Testament, but also within each of us – we too are sources of the Godhead. His 1919 chant echoed this perspective entirely: “God is spontaneity. Hence, the commandment is: “Be spontaneous!” Moreno’s “Invitation to an Encounter” was a clarion call for all of us to treat ourselves and others as creators and be willing to see the world through others’ eyes. This was the bedrock of his many innovations. Jonathan Moreno’s description and details of this phase is a wonderful exegesis of Moreno’s early development.
  1. “Spontaneity Theatre” – similar to a “new perspective” reflected in the birth of abstract art which rejected the limitations of representational art, J. L. Moreno founded a new order of theatre called, “The Theatre of Spontaneity.” He rejected the traditional theatre as a “worship of death,” that is, theatrical presentations were finished products: actors memorized other peoples’ scripts, took positions and postures on stage that were previously “blocked,” music and lighting created context, and the audience was just that: “listeners” who voiced appreciation at the end with applause. Moreno would have nothing of that, following his principles of spontaneity and creativity. He wanted theatre to be forum for all to create together: no script, no actors, no three act format with plots and directions. The Theatre of Spontaneity was to live in the “here and now;” the process of birth was as important as the finished product or what Moreno called the “conserve.” Much like Kandinsky seeing “colors” in listening to music, Moreno saw the centrality of process, the here and now, and wanted to “search for a new order of things.” His book, “The Theatre of Spontaneity,” is a magnificent treatise on this “new order,” a primary source for the development of improvisational theatre, appreciation of the arts as manifestations of spontaneity and creativity, and the primary impact upon a long list of well known actors, artists, dancers, musicians who were influenced by these ideas.
  1. Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama – though he was not successful in making Theatre of Spontaneity an acceptable and appreciated form of theatre, Moreno transported his ideas and innovations into therapeutic endeavors. Again, much like prophets in religious traditions, he proposed that the “group” was the primary source of treatment and that action methods (for example: role play, role training, role reversal, social atom enactments, current events, and surplus reality) were formidable avenues for individuals and groups to embrace growth and healing. He challenged the “talking cure” and the hegemony of psychoanalysis and psychodynamic principles to develop a philosophy and method that utilized the whole group to assist in the emergence of a “protagonist” who would represent a common dilemma that group members experienced in their own lives. Once the individual protagonist had completed his/her psychodrama, assisted by group members, the group psychotherapy process would commence. There was no analysis, no interpretations, no advice giving during the group psychotherapy phase, only personal sharing, compassion, understanding, only how each person could identify with the protagonist. This was the enactment of his “Invitation to an Encounter.” Psychodrama and its companion method, sociodrama, were instruments to promote healing and moderate group and individual obstacles for growth.
  1. Social Network Theory – as any person who is familiar with the internet, social media, and smart phones, there are constant reminders of how all of us are connected to the whole as John Dunne spoke about several centuries ago. The “need to belong” plays a substantial role in all of our lives and when that need is met, that is, when we have satisfying, reciprocal relationships, an important aspect of our psychological health is satisfied. Moreno’s pilot study at Hudson, the utilization of social network analysis in therapeutic endeavors, and frequent visual depiction of social connections revolutionized the way that we understand how groups develop and exist. Whether it be marketing research, political polarizations related to reading materials, economic stratification related to income distribution, friendship development throughout middle school and high school, a New York Times Sunday Magazine article written by a Harvard sociologist utilizing time-lapse photography to show group development at a fashion show, Moreno’s ideas and methods depicted our real world – our relational climate. The important and empirically supported method, “Interpersonal Therapy,” utilizes social network analysis as an important centerpiece in the treatment of affective disorders such as depression and bipolar illness. The examples are endless. Moreno’s creative ideas on how those networks influence our well-being, starting at a very young age, established the principal components that blossomed into Social Network Theory.
Jonathan Moreno
Jonathan Moreno

As I had substantial contact with J.L. Moreno, and his wife, Zerka Moreno, during the late 1960’s and the 1970’s, and knew Jonathan Moreno when he was a teenager and young adult, reading this biography of his father was a gift and a joy. Having lived in the Beacon, New York training center for an entire year as a resident fellow and led psychodrama demonstrations in the New York Center on West 78th street, I had unlimited access to J. L. Moreno’s writings and publications. I was honored to have spent time with him at his dining room table and asked questions about his work and his ideas. I read all the early journals: “Sociatry,” “Sociometry,” “International Journals of Group Psychotherapy;” read the seminal contributions by prominent social psychologists, such as Kurt Lewin, who published in Moreno’s journals. At that time, Zerka Moreno was the principal trainer in developing skills in group psychotherapy and psychodrama and was just an incredibly skilled therapist and person – she had a tremendous impact on my professional and personal development as well as the many professionals who came for training from all over the world. The synergy created in those training groups was incalculable. The Moreno Institute in New York, where demonstrations of psychodrama were held every night of the week, was gifted with exceptional leaders: Jim Sacks, Bob Siroka, Ellen Siroka, Hannah Weiner, and Marcia Karp. All of this, and much more, is captured in Jonathan’s biography — a wonderful recounting of this great leader whose influence is still felt and is still important. This biography is an honest and essential narrative of his father’s life and the people in his grand social network as a result of his innovations, charisma, controversial challenger to the status quo, gifted group theorist and clinician, or as a prophetic voice for the future of psychiatry, psychology, social psychology, and sociology.

There is one more, most important item of “unfinished business” that Jonathan Moreno has accomplished in writing this biography of his father. Having taught seminars in group psychology and group psychotherapy and read numerous narratives about the origins of group psychotherapy, there is no doubt in my mind that J. L. Moreno has not received the recognition that he fully deserves. He is the founder of Group Psychotherapy. Not only did he give us the name, “Group Psychotherapy,” but he gave us theories and methods in which to practice this important treatment modality. He emphasized that the group was the essential component in our society and he focused on the “group.” Many other claimants for group psychotherapy innovations were based upon migrating theories of individual development and dressed up to be applied to group work. Many theories and practices of group work, even presently, were unaware of the importance of group dynamics and how group dynamics affected individual functioning.

Jonathan Moreno’s biography is a must read for group practitioners in the field. The narrative creates the historical and social forces that enveloped his father and propelled him into prominence as an agent of change who gave us ideas, methods, and theories that have assisted all of us to look at the world and people in a kinder, empathic, and creative way. This book is a wonderful gift from a son to his father and to all of us who knew and treasured him.


Early Career Group Psychologist Column: Group Mentoring Program

Leann Diederich, Ph.D.
Leann Diederich, Ph.D.

We are happy to announce that we are piloting a new program, exclusively for Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy members. We are offering short-term group mentoring with well-known group psychologists. Our first mentor is our newly elected President-Elect, Dr. Robert Gleave.

Dr. Gleave (ABPP, CGP) is a Psychologist and Clinical Professor at Brigham Young University. He has a joint appointment with Counseling and Psychological Services and the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program. He teaches third year practicum and advanced group theory and practice and leads two groups weekly. He is a member of the Consortium for Group Research and Practice (C-GRP) research team which is a collaborative effort between the Clinical Psychology program, the Counseling Psychology program, the Counseling Center, and the Utah State Hospital. The Consortium is involved in multiple research projects investigating group psychotherapy process and outcome.  He also maintains a small private practice that includes two groups.

Details of the Group

  1. The group will meet for 6 sessions, every other week starting on Wednesday, July 1st at 1 pm (EDT), 11 am (MDT), 10 am (PDT) and will be for 50 minutes.
  2. You must be able to attend at least 4 of the 6 mentoring sessions (July 1, July 15, July 29, August 12, August 26, and September 9).
  3. We will be using video conferencing technology, such as Zoom. You need broadband wired or wireless internet, speakers/microphone, and a webcam. You’ll need to be able to download the Zoom meeting plug-in to access the group.
  4. A group of 6 mentees will be selected from the first responses back to us (email us at
  5. Only Division 49 members are eligible. If you want to become a member, go to:
  6. Topics for discussion will grow out of the interests of the mentees.

If you have any questions, please contact Membership Chair, Dr. Leann Diederich (

As of this publication, the mentoring group is filling fast. Perhaps additional mentoring groups can be developed for future group psychologists.


Early Career Group Psychologist Column: Tips for Salary Negotiation

Leann Diederich, Ph.D.
Leann Diederich, Ph.D.

On May 28, 2015 the Early Career Psychologist Task Force hosted a free conference call on negotiating salaries. We had over 40 participants on the call and featured guest Dr. Andy King, the Director of the University of North Florida. Thank you Dr. King!

The following tips were sharing during the call:

  • Don’t bring up the discussion of the salary too early in the interview process. The best case one can expect is your potential employer will bring it up. You do not want them to think you are only in it for the money.
  • Even during the phone interview is too early. Typically the job description will list a range, but if it doesn’t, you can call the Human Resources department to find out.
  • If a salary is listed as “negotiable”, then it’s typically only in a 2% to 5% range.
  • Consider other professional benefits beyond just a salary. Include: retirement benefits, health insurance, access to exercise facilities, loan forgiveness possibilities, funding to attend conferences or professional development opportunities, and even state income taxes (i.e., they vary across states).
  • If you are offered a salary that is too low for you, but the employer says they can’t raise it, you can reply, “That could be acceptable, if some other arrangements could be made.” Then you can consider some of the other benefits besides salary listed above.
  • If you need supervision to get licensed, consider whether the agency will pay for that directly, or will it need to come out of your salary (and you’d have to pay taxes on it first).
  • If you have to ask about the salary, consider framing it in terms of “In ballpark figures, what can one expect, generally speaking from this type of position?” or “What would someone need to earn to live comfortably in this community?”
  • Ultimately, you are in a much better negotiating position if you are the agency or center’s top choice. Thus, focus on this throughout the interview process.
  • If you are already in a position and want to work on getting a raise, there are a couple of considerations. First, consider taking on more responsibilities or a coordinator role. This can help you advocate for a higher salary increase by demonstrating how you are committed to the agency and to the mission. Second, if you are aware of new hires that have less experience than you, but are being paid a higher rate, work with your Director or even the Human Resource department who can work on avoiding “salary compression”. Finally, your Director or employer can advocate for a “special pay increase” if all psychologists at an agency are underpaid compared to national or state norms.

For additional tips, check out the free article, Women at the Bargaining Table: Pitfalls and Prospects (


Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy Diversity Column

Brave Space Dialogues in Multicultural Group Therapy: Emic Approaches

Jeanne Bulgin Steffen, Ph.D.
Jeanne Bulgin Steffen, Ph.D.

Reviewing the development and shift from “safe” space to “brave” space dialogues as an important way to frame diversity and social justice explorations was the focus of the column from the last issue of The Group Psychologist. In that issue I focused on an etic or culturally universal group intervention as an example of integrating a brave space dialogue into group processes. The specific intervention involved the process of introducing group members to their responsibilities within group by letting them know that, although it is a universal human drive to prioritize interpersonal safety, change rarely occurs when one is comfortable or “safe”. The introduction of the brave space concept (explaining that group members’ role is to become more comfortable being uncomfortable in order to learn and grow in group) is a culturally universal intervention that assists members in processing the meaning of brave space and supporting each other to approach challenging and controversial topics in a genuine manner. In this column, my goal is to shift focus from culturally universal interventions and describe two culturally specific (emic) brave space interventions.

One of the processes that is heavily influenced by culture in group work is one of the very first activities that group leaders ask group members to engage in: the development of ground rules. Although we may think of ground rules like honesty, respect, responsibility, and listening to others as universal cultural concepts, how we define these concepts actually differ (sometimes quite significantly) across cultures. In their article entitled From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces, Arao and Clemens (2013) discussed the process of developing ground rules for groups focusing on diversity and social justice conversations. The article features the formulation of ground rules as part of learning about social justice and diversity and identifies five common ground rules that may not consider differences between cultures, as well as how these ground rules might be understood from a non-dominant cultural perspective. One of the primary dangers of not considering the embeddedness of dominant cultural perspectives in ground rules is that the group leader may inadvertently support continued oppression of non-dominant cultural groups. The five common ground rules identified and discussed by the authors include: Agree to disagree, Don’t take things personally, Challenge by choice, Respect, and No attacks. Although the column doesn’t allow me the space to review the reframe of each of the ground rules, I will review the emic or culturally specific aspects of two of the five identified by the authors: Don’t take things personally and Respect.

The ground rule Don’t take things personally is commonly used in groups with the intent of encouraging group members to be open and non-defensive in response to feedback from others and with the intent of encouraging individuals in the group to speak more genuinely. Arao and Clemens indicate that this ground rule validates the inevitability of making mistakes as part of the process of intimate communication; however, the authors go on to argue that if person is affected negatively by a particular comment or discussion, this ground rule is likely to silence that person and tends to inadvertently protect members from dominant social groups. In addition, regarding issues of diversity and social justice, reprieve from emotional reaction tends to be specific to cultures valuing the masculine trait of control over emotions. Reframing the rule Don’t take things personally then becomes a culturally specific intervention in the process of forming ground rules. The particular ground rule suggested by the authors that is more aligned with a brave space dialogue, as well as more aligned with non-dominant cultural groups, is Owning your intentions and your impact. This ground rule allows for honest and open cultural exploration and increases accountability of group members by acknowledging that intentions and impact matter and that our intent is not always in line with our impact.

The ground rule of treating others with Respect is also a seemingly culturally universal rule that supports open conversation and healthy group dynamics; however, the definition of this ground rule also tends to be culturally specific. For instance, demonstrating respect differs in different cultures—both nonverbal behaviors such as maintaining eye contact while listening versus speaking and verbal behaviors such as interrupting and practicing emotional restraint are described by Arao and Clemens to be normatively masculine and patriarchal cultural practices. Therefore, the objective of exploring cultural definitions of Respect is a culturally specific intervention designed to increase mindfulness regarding cultural differences. The authors note that by unpacking comments not intended to be oppressive, but are, group members can better explore with each other ways to challenge and change social and cultural scripts related to privilege and cultural constructs such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender expression, ability, and age.

By the titles, one may ascertain that the common ground rules identified by Arao and Clemens align with the concept of safety in groups and may be challenged and reframed by a brave space dialogue as a culturally universal intervention. In addition, it was my intention to call attention to the fact that many of the ground rules we take for granted as culturally universal may actually be inadvertently oppressive to those from non-dominant cultural groups, and I reviewed two culturally specific interventions related to reevaluating and redefining the ground rules, which included Don’t take things personally and Respect. Thank you to Laurie (Lali) McCubbin for her suggestion that I discuss the concepts of safe versus brave space in my columns. I think this discussion integrated well with prior columns related to etic and emic interventions in group practice and I hope added to readers’ multicultural awareness and knowledge, as well as added to ideas for increasing multicultural skill competency. In the next column, I look forward to discussing our committee’s activities at the 2015 convention of the American Psychological Association—I hope you can join us in Toronto in August!

As always, I welcome questions, concerns and ideas for future columns. Please email me at:


Arao, B., & Clemens, K. (2013). From safe spaces to brave spaces: A new way to frame dialogue around diversity and social justice. In L. Landreman (Ed.), The art of effective facilitation: Reflections from social justice educators (1st ed., pp. 135-150). Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Rom R.B. (1998). ‘Safe spaces’: Reflections on an educational metaphor. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 30(4), 397-408.

Singleton, G., & Hays, C. (2008). Beginning courageous conversations about race. In M. Pollock (Ed.), Everyday antiracism: Getting real bout race in school (pp. 18-23). New York, NY: The New Press.

Singleton, G., & Linton, C. (2006). Courageous conversations about race: A field guide for achieving equity in schools. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press

Sparks, D. (2002). Conversations about race need to be fearless. Journal of Staff Development, 23(4), 60-64.


Group Psychotherapy Column: Creative Group Exercises

John Breeskin, PhD
John Breeskin, Ph.D.

I have been collecting group exercises since the bygone days of the human encounter movement, which dates me as a 50 year group therapist.  During this time, I have gradually evolved and become far more radical in the kinds of exercises that I develop and two examples will follow:

My group and I will be attending a Friday, Saturday and Sunday silent religious retreat at the Holy Cross Abbey, which is located on the banks of the Shenandoah River looking into the Blue Ridge Mountains. The retreat is a silent one and the fellow participants are usually noviates and priests. Since there are no cities nearby, I typically sit outside, watch the sun set and the stars appear overhead. It is, to me, a deeply spiritual experience. The group will number eight and will not be able to talk to each other until after the retreat is over.

This is typical of field excursions that my groups and I have made together. We have gone to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Waters, in Western PA, the National Arboretum, in Washington DC and the open air Hirschorn Sunken Sculpture Garden on the National Mall.  We will do at least one visit of this type per calendar year.

The second exercise that I will be suggesting to the group stems directly from a mind-blowing book that I have just read titled The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, by Lewis Hyde. Borrowing liberally from these ideas, I will be giving a gift to one group member and asking him to receive the gift and to pass along a gift of his to another group member. Once the circle is completed, I will be given a gift which is the cumulative product of the exchange in return. It is important to point out that the profit motive in this transaction is completely subjective and even spiritual. We will discuss what it like to first receive a gift and also to give it.

Stay tuned for a further news bulletin as my group struggles with my radical ideas. I hope this makes sense to you.  Please let me know if we have a deal.


Editor’s Column

As we slowly work our way toward summer we look forward to joining and sharing our knowledge at our Annual Convention this August. Division 49’s program is very exciting as one can review in this issue.

In this issue, you can read about the following:

  • President Dennis Kivlighan focuses on Division 49’s program. We share his enthusiasm for the invited address by Dr. Molyn Leszcz. You can also learn more about the creation of a new ritual, The Annual Division 49 Fellow’s Talks, in his column.
  • President-elect Craig Parks plans to focus on connecting and furthering the group experience through collaboration with fellow group workers (i.e., organizational, clinical, and sports group psychologists). He feels that Division 49 needs to initiate extension efforts. For example, he suggests that the Division could sponsor workshops on topics related to group functioning to which professionals and budding professionals can attend at reasonable rates. We applaud his goal of building stronger connection between group psychology and group psychotherapy.
  • An update on the status of a new Division 49 journal. The Board received feedback from the APA Publications and Communication Board, and we report on that feedback in a separate column.

This issue has links to individual articles, tabs across top of pages (for current issue, past issues, guidelines or instructions to authors, link to website, about TGP/the Division, how to join the division, and a link to Facebook). Other features include a photo gallery, a way to sign-up to follow the site (e.g., get emails when it’s updated), a search feature, archives by month, and categories (types of articles) and tags (descriptors). If you like one of the articles you read, be sure to comment, send it via email to a colleague, or “like” it on Facebook.

Articles or brief reports and news items can be e-mailed directly to Tom, Letitia, and Leann at, as can Letters to the Editor.

Tom Treadwell, Ed.D., T.E.P, CGP
Tom Treadwell, Ed.D., T.E.P, CGP


Leann Diederich, Ph.D.
Leann Diederich, Ph.D.

Associate Editor

Awards News

2014 Richard Moreland Dissertation of the Year Award

Conversational flow: The Emergence and Regulation of Solidarity Through Social Interaction

University of Groningen

Namkje Kooudenburg Ph.D.

The central aim of this dissertation was to study whether such micro-characteristics of the form of dialogue influence processes at a more macro-level, such as the emergence and regulation of social structures. Two conclusions are drawn: First, it appears that subtle aspects in the form of conversation (e.g., brief silences, interruptions) reveal information about both the closeness and the quality of underlying social relationships. Second, the form of a conversation provides means to regulate and maintain the solidarity within the group. In small groups, core characteristics such as social norms, status hierarchies and shared realities “define the group” in the sense that they are affirmed through communication between members. In smoothly flowing conversation, the group members’ actions towards each other reflect the social structures that exist within the group. Behavior that deviates from this framework poses a potential threat to the stability of the social system. Indeed, when a low status group member interrupts a high status other, this may threaten assumptions of group hierarchy and thus call in doubt the solidarity. Because disruptions of the normal flow of conversation may signal that something within the social system is wrong, this should normally (i.e., when the continuation of those systems is valued) elicit behavior that is aimed at re-establishing unity. Thus, solidarity is not only maintained by sanctioning deviants, but also by more subtle cues in communication that inform people about the status of the relationship between speakers.

Dissertation Award Guidelines:

Each year, the Society of Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy of the American Psychological Association gives an award for the best dissertation research on small groups. The research can apply any methodology to the analysis of any type of group. People who wish to compete for the award first submit an abstract, which is read by a committee of three division members. The three best abstracts are identified by the committee and the authors are asked to submit full copies of their dissertations. The same committee reads those dissertations and then selects the final winner.

The committee for the latest (2014) award was Dr. Richard Moreland (chair), Dr. Dennis Kivlighan, Dr. Flip Robison, and Dr. Catherine Shea (who won the 2013 award). The three finalists were Dr. Namkje Kooudenburg (University of Groningen), Dr. Florian Landkammer (University of Tubingen), and Dr. Jamie Perry (Rutgers School of Business).

The winner of the prize was Dr. Koudenburg, whose dissertation was entitled “Conversational flow: The emergence and regulation of solidarity through social interaction.” Dr. Koudenburg won $1000, a commemorative plaque, and a three-year membership in the division. She will receive her award at the annual Business Meeting of the division at this year’s APA convention in Toronto.

The same contest will be held again this year. People who completed dissertations during calendar year 2015 are encouraged to submit abstracts of their work to Dr. Richard Moreland ( by March 1st of 2016.

For more information, visit


New Journal Update

Tom Treadwell, EdD, T.E.P. C.G.P.
Tom Treadwell, EdD, T.E.P. C.G.P.

A proposal for a second journal for Division 49, Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy, was presented at the Board’s August 2015 meeting in Washington, D.C.

APA’s Publications & Communications (PC) Board is recommending against the establishment of a new clinical journal for Division 49 as reported by Gary Vanderbos.

According to Vanderbos, “the primary basis for this recommendation is the simple numbers and finances. We believe the Division is too small to economically support two journals—with readers, with authors, and with supporting dollars. Moreover, on a percentage of clinical hours provided per year, group psychotherapy is not a highly frequent method of delivery of psychotherapy, even taking a multi-disciplinary approach to data.  There simply may not be enough willing authors and eager readers to support another clinical group psychotherapy journal beyond those already in existence.”

However, Vanderbos states, “We believe the motivation behind the proposal has a degree of merit. I have been kicking around some ideas about that, which is the real focus of what I would like to chat with the Executive Committee about. Rather than forming a new journal, I think the Division should strike an ‘alliance’ of sorts with another Division, which has a more clinically-oriented journal.”

However, Vanderbos suggests a meeting time is to be arranged to discuss the totality of the situation with the Executive Committee of the Division at the Toronto APA Convention. We could do this during the Group Dynamics journal meeting, which is already scheduled for Thursday, 6 August, at 11 am at the APA Publications Suite.

Vanderbos suggests collaborating with other divisions, such as, Division 42 whereby they are establishing a new journal called Practice Innovations, as they will need submissions and content to publish, or perhaps Division 29 since they publish more clinically-oriented articles on the “art” of doing psychotherapy.

We need to make Division 49’s mission one that promotes the clinical component(s) of group psychology and group psychotherapy via our own division. Burlingame, Strauss, & Joyce (2011) have demonstrated there is now sufficient data showing group therapy is as efficient and or effective as individual therapy.

This note is to solicit reactions from Division 49 membership! The membership reactions to the recommendations are important… Let us know your thoughts.

Elections News

Candidate Election Results


The following individuals will begin their terms on January 1, 2016.


Robert Gleave, Ph.D., ABGP, CGP
Robert Gleave, Ph.D., ABGP, CGP


Member at Large:

Michele D. Ribeiro, Ed.D.
Michele D. Ribeiro, Ed.D.

Michele D. Ribeiro, Ed.D. (


President-Elect’s Column

Reaching Out as a Division

Craig Parks, PhD
Craig Parks, Ph.D.

“[He] is a poster child for the notions of positive psychology and resiliency in teaching and coaching small groups.” This quote is from Martin Seligman, about someone, not a psychologist, whose job is to improve performance by small groups. This person has been lauded by others, within our profession and his, for his grasp of the psychology of group and interpersonal dynamics, and his application of cutting-edge research to his work environment. He lists Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers as the book that has had the greatest influence on his professional life. His methods have been the subject of at least one empirical study (Thelwell, Weston, Greenlees, & Hutchings, 2008). And finally, his approach has been so successful within his profession that others are rushing to adapt his methods to their own work environments, and other professions are trying to figure out how to integrate his ideas into their task groups.

For now I’ll let you ponder who this is. (Full disclosure: Some of you will not recognize his name, but I’m confident the majority of you will know of his employer, if not him specifically.) The point I want to make is that this is someone outside of psychology who saw a connection between what we do and what his situation needed, and tried to link the two worlds. The success of this person offers a real opportunity for us to build bridges outside of our discipline. We can all think of real-world groups that might benefit from the theories that we work from, and to my mind the time is right for us to connect to such groups. Like him or not, the popularity of Gladwell’s books demonstrates that the lay public wants to know more about what we do and how it can benefit them. The prominent success of our mystery person, and his readiness to attribute that success to the application of psychology, group and individual (our colleagues who do mindfulness research hold him up as a conquering hero), opens the door wide for us to get involved with other types of groups.

I’m sure at this point, some of you are rolling your eyes and thinking, “Here’s another call to share our expertise that forgets about the hurdles we face in our jobs to outreach.” I assure you I’m well aware of the difficulties inherent in what I’m calling for. A colleague in my department has received awards from the university and our state legislature for his efforts to help kids in challenging home situations to thrive in school, yet he remains an Associate Professor, because a good chunk of his work is not readily publishable. My suggestion is that we work as a division to initiate some extension efforts. I am thinking in particular of our sponsoring workshops on topics related to group functioning to which professionals and budding professionals (i.e., graduate students) are invited, with an accompanying registration fee. Division 5 (Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics) does this to great effect, regularly advertising one- and two-day workshops on all manner of analytical techniques, usually held at the presenter’s home institution or nearby. The registration fees are first used to pay for the facility and for an honorarium for the presenter, and whatever is left goes to the division. Having participated, as both attendee and presenter, in such workshops, I can say that they are popular, and draw a good number of people from outside of the discipline. The presenter’s time commitment is relatively brief, certainly not at the level of a single person contracting with an agency or organization, and so should not impinge on his/her employment duties. Some work would need to be done to establish contacts with managers of real groups in order to circulate workshop announcements, but there are many professional listservs that look for educational opportunities for their members, and are easy to work with.

I think there is much potential here. Imagine, for example, a workshop in the Maryland-Virginia-DC area run by Dennis Kivlighan on the unique and beneficial aspects of co-led groups, or a session led by Verlin Hinsz on how information-processing errors and biases magnify in groups. Workshops like these would be attractive across the spectrum of types of groups, would provide a real service to society, and would be beneficial to the division.

I’m interested to hear what you think of this. Catch up with me in Toronto. If this still sounds like too much of an intrusion into our work lives, tell me so. If it sounds like it has potential, let’s talk about that too.

And to unveil the mystery person: It is Pete Carroll, coach of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, winner of two one Super Bowls.