I wish to declare again, as I have written before, that group psychotherapy is very important to me. When I agreed to run for president-elect of division 49, I had energy and desire to make a difference in moving group psychotherapy toward increasing prominence. It seemed like a natural next step flowing from my research and affiliations with other professional associations. It felt like a good way to give back to a community that had been supportive throughout my career. I was aware of some of the national issues and had a few ideas about how to contribute.
Following the election, yet prior to the January 1, 2016 beginning of the President-elect year, I was diagnosed with ALS which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. At the time, the progression of the disease was unknown. I chose to proceed with an expectation that the progression of the disease would be slower and that I might still be able to contribute. As time has passed, it is now apparent that I will not have sufficient strength or energy to fulfill the duties of President. It is with disappointment that I must step aside at this time. After consulting the by-laws, Craig and Dennis have each graciously agreed to stay for another year. I want to thank them both for their kindness as I have wrestled with this challenge. They, and the rest of the board, have been very helpful and supportive.
I feel that I have had a good career and am happy about the things that got done. While there are always “next projects”, my Division 49 service is one of only a few things that feels unfinished. Overall, I am ready to let the next generation make their mark.
My religious beliefs are strong and I’m comforted by my relationship with the Savior. He is sustaining me and giving meaning to this part of my life experience, just as He has consistently over the decades. My predominant feeling is a willingness to learn these next lessons and a sense of peace.
I want to express thanks to many of you that I count as my friends and to all of you who keep the cause of group psychotherapy alive.
I have been making plans for APA in Denver and have recognized that I’m most looking forward to the Division 49 events – especially the board meetings. I have taken the opportunity to reflect on my years of involvement in professional associations. The overall feeling I have about professional associations is that I receive much more than I give. Yes, there is a financial cost. There are also time, energy, and personal costs. Anything that is worthwhile comes with a cost of some sort. Life is full of choices that require effort to obtain what is desired. It is said; “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” While one can argue the use of the superlative, the general principle is recognizable. Professional association membership and involvement holds a multitude of benefits that matter to me. I won’t be able to articulate them adequately, but I’d like to share a few thoughts.
When I feel frustrated that something doesn’t make sense or I want to cry out “it shouldn’t be this way,” my next feeling can be helplessness because I know it is unlikely that I can change things alone. With like-minded colleagues who share my frustrations I don’t feel so alone. As we commiserate, energy builds until we jointly say “let’s do something about that.” With multiple talents and various skills we can do so much more together than any of us could on our own. The larger numbers carry additional weight to the positions we are advocating, and public opinion and policy can be influenced.
Like all of us, I occasionally second guess myself or get unclear about some situation that presents itself infrequently. Listserv’s, websites, newsletters, etc. often provide excellent information. Having multiple professionals, who I know well enough to call is an important resource for me. Joining with fellow group psychologists in conferences and workshops provides some of the familiarity that helps to feel connected, but working together in a board, committee, sub-committee, or task force setting builds a different level of connection and friendship.
Working on a project that makes a difference for the profession generally also provides a sense of contributing to a cause that is larger than my everyday routine, and I find that satisfying. I’ve learned new skills and developed important qualities through association service. My time as a lobbyist was a confidence builder, and sharpened my ability to be succinct. My time on an ethics committee helped me to be more thoughtful and to consider multiple positions at the same time. Serving on a continuing education committee gave me a greater appreciation for organization and logistics.
It is important to me to be aware of the trends in my profession. Association involvement assures that I am among the first to be informed of new developments and potential shifts in the field (current changes make this a particularly useful benefit). I have been able to adjust my private practice just ahead of insurance company changes that resulted in preferred status with some insurers (and a more stable business).
Being an active contributor to a profession that has fed and sheltered my family also matters to me. Someone lobbied for me to have a license, someone else challenged the insurance companies attempt to decrease my income, another represented my profession to the public through the media (decreasing stigma and encouraging new patients toward my services), and others planned and provided opportunities for me to learn new things that keep me current (and meet CE requirements). I feel better when I also contribute something to the joint effort, even if all I can do is attend a monthly board meeting and share my views or make a few phone calls to encourage new members or to help a legislator understand an important issue. Maybe my willingness to write a short article for a newsletter or participate on a conference call with the early career committee is all I can offer one year. Still, I can feel that I am a contributor. Most association service requires small amounts of time that is able to be flexibly placed into a schedule.
If this sounds like your experience in the groups you lead, it’s not a coincidence. Association work is working in a group, and thus utilizes the power of group processes. This is another reason I find association service so energizing and rewarding. Wrestling with priorities and ways to implement action items calls forth multiple perspectives and the dialogue around those differences has all of the advantages of group work. Relationships are strengthened, learning occurs, the synergy of interaction promotes a sense of well-being, etc.
Yes, there are costs associated with association membership and service, but I have received so much more than any cost required of me. I am so thankful to those with whom I currently serve and also to the many with whom I have served. Thank you for being willing to press me to understand you and for being willing to hear me. Thank you for modifying my good ideas and making them better and for shooting down my bad ones. In short, thank you for letting me work shoulder to shoulder with you in an important endeavor.
I invite any of you to join us on the board. Just let anyone on the board know of your interest and we will welcome you and find a place for you.
Group psychotherapy has been an important aspect of my career from its earliest beginnings. For several decades I have watched the field of group psychotherapy grow and become a rich service delivery modality. When I began studying and practicing group psychotherapy the literature was not very clear on many aspects of group processes. Many studies were reporting on experiences with very few groups—several with single group designs. Most of the instruments used to measure constructs were created for the studies without sufficient attention to validity or reliability. My experience was that I was entering (and committed to) a field that was still in its adolescence. I was the group coordinator at a large college counseling center for several years and frequently felt that I was trying to advocate for legitimacy for our group offerings. As time passed, it became clearer that groups were adding significant benefit to our clinical services.
For the last decade and a half I have been part of a very active group psychotherapy research team. The literature has become increasingly rigorous, clear, and cohesive. Studies with larger sample sizes, improvements in statistical methods, greater attention to psychometrics, use of standardized measures, and more replications, have all contributed to more compelling evidence for the effectiveness and efficiency of group psychotherapy.
As I have taught beginning psychologists about group psychotherapy theories, principles, and practices, I have witnessed some of them catch the “Group Bug” and then go on to become strong advocates of group psychotherapy themselves. These have been some very rewarding times in my professional life.
In contrast, I have been somewhat saddened in more recent years as some training programs sacrifice their group courses in favor of other offerings. I have felt discouraged when insurers are unwilling to compensate for group psychotherapy at rates that are comparable to other services. Frustration has followed when other providers are hesitant to refer clients to needed group services and are uninterested in learning what groups can offer. In addition, administrators’ continued dismissals of requests for legitimacy for group programs have also been disappointing. The most recent denial of a petition for specialty status for Group Psychology by CRSPPP (Commission for the Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology) was a blow to my positive expectations for the field. I began to feel like I did in my early career—the fear that I might not be hired in the jobs I wanted, that I had chosen a dead-end career that was in decline, and that I was destined to barely scrape by and to feel unsatisfied in my work. However, my career has gone better than I could have ever dreamed in spite of cloudy times and disappointments. I now recognize those doubtful times as developmentally important to help me see beyond the struggles of this year or this decade and to remain committed to what I value.
As a member of the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists and also the Group Specialty Council which is preparing the next petition for specialty status with CRSPPP, I have been able to see more of what is happening in the field. I am more optimistic than ever about the future of group psychotherapy. I am aware of many simultaneous efforts that have potential to propel group psychotherapy into fitting prominence. I am tempering my optimism with my memory that it took much work and several setbacks for my own career to develop. At the same time, my optimism is fueled by confidence that obstacles do not define outcomes. I see great things in our future, and I am pleased to be associated with all of you as we move forward.
This award is granted to a teaching professional (post-graduate) who has demonstrated excellence in the area of the teaching of the psychology of group or group psychotherapy at the undergraduate or graduate level. We are looking for individuals who have developed and implemented a particularly innovative and/or effective teaching approach related to the teaching of group dynamics. All who are members of Division 49 (or whose application for membership is currently pending) are eligible. Nominations may come from self or others. The award will be presented at the annual conference of the American Psychological Association. A $1,000.00 cash award and plaque will be presented to the award winner. The awardee will also have a chance to present her or his work related to teaching group dynamics to a national audience. Applicants are encouraged to submit the following materials on order to be considered for this award:
Written description (no more than 2 pages) of a specific exercise, assignment, or teaching strategy that highlights your qualifications for this award
Evidence of teaching effectiveness (e.g. informal and/or formal teaching evaluations; other data gathered from students; peer evaluations, etc.) (maximum 5 pages)
Copy of current CV
A letter from a psychologist (or other qualified colleague) who can speak to the qualifications of the nominee in light of the award criteria
Cover sheet that includes:
Nominee’s name, address, telephone number and email address.
Name and type of teaching institution (e.g., doctoral program, master’s program, 4-year college) and discipline (e.g. counseling psychology, social psychology, clinical psychology, etc.)
Nominator’s name, address, telephone number and email address.
Name and address of who should be informed if the nominee wins the Group Dynamics Teaching Award (e.g., department head, supervisor, etc.)
All materials should be submitted via a zipped/compressed folder in one email with the following subject line: [Candidate’s First and Last Name] – Application for Group Dynamics Teaching Award.
All submissions must be received by Feb. 15, 2016 to be considered. Send to: Dr. Robert Gleave at Robert_Gleave@byu.edu.