IN THE LOOP
Welcome back to In The Loop! A newsletter brought to you by CGPA to keep you updated on happenings in the association and around the Group Therapy and Group Training community.
Please feel free to send any information you think would be suitable for the publication to current editor Rowan Sharkey email@example.com. Enjoy!
Prince George, BC
Exciting News For Prince George and surrounding area!!
Dr John Sherry is offering both a ‘Beginner Group Training Workshop’ on ‘Basic Group Leadership Skills’ and an ‘Intermediate/Advanced Experiential Group Training Workshop’.
CGPA members can attend the workshop for a REDUCED rate.
Go to www.cgpa.ca under Prince George Section for details.
Thursday with Joan-Dianne Smith
Exclusive interview with the new CGPA president, Joan-Dianne Smith, MSW, RSW, FCGPA. She resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba and is both an experienced group therapist and a published author.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH GROUPS?
I suppose I grew up comfortable in groups, with a gregarious extended family and many community involvements, with people often congregating in my family’s kitchen, backyard, basement, and family cottage.
But as a young grad in the late ’70’s, I landed a first job in psychiatric outpatients at Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital and focused on becoming a Family Therapist— like any new MSW worth her salt, back in the day.
At that time there were ample opportunities for in-service education and continuing education — lots of supervision, consultation, one-way mirrors, clinical teams — it was a great time to begin a career.
One summer I attended the continuing education summer school at Smith College, MA. I signed up for three courses; family therapy, child play therapy, and group therapy — expecting that the family course would be my favourite. But to my surprise, as the two week intensive wore on, I became truly enamoured with group therapy. After that, I returned to Smith College the next two summers for their Certificate Program in Group Therapy. This included wonderful opportunities to learn from some of the leaders in the field, and during the practicum back home I was able to be closely supervised — blow by blow, in two long term groups.
Some of my early supervision included Tavistock-style group-as-a-whole approaches as well as psychodynamic influences at the time. I began to lead groups for children, adolescents, as well as adults. An interest also evolved in understanding the group dynamics of organisations and institutions, and the application of group theory to all groups.
In the early 80’s I had a publication in the International Journal called The Clown Club, which described some group work with children taking on various identities while pretending to be a troupe of clowns.
Back in those days, I began to try out some of Yalom’s ideas, including writing a weekly group letter to members, summarising what I noticed in the dynamics each session. This is actually something I do to this day.
Over the years I’ve worked in hospital settings, clinics, community agencies, and most recently in private practice in Winnipeg.
My career trajectory fit well with the formation of CGPA, and I had the honour and privilege of being involved in the early days of the Toronto group therapy training program.
WHAT GROUPS ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH CURRENTLY?
In my practice I have a long term women’s group and a group for therapists. As for non- therapy groups, I am part of the CGPA board, and I’m active in conference planning, education, experiential group training, and active with the local CGPA here in Winnipeg. I am also part of a writers group, a book club, and I have a family too. So I’m in and out of many configurations of groups all the time.
WHO WERE YOUR MENTORS?
Who have I learned from? Many people over the years – Yalom, Rutan, Stone and for the last seven years, Geri Alpert. I consult with her weekly, mainly about my groups, but she also helps me with a whole range of clinical and professional issues. She’s a seasoned clinician and a wise mentor—I actually went ‘shopping’ at AGPA for an older sister/mentor and found her. It has been hugely successful. She’s awesome. My group turns six years old this week, and Geri asked if that means we’re six too? (I said no, we’re actually seven!)
OF ALL YOUR GROUPS OVER THE YEARS DO SOME HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN YOUR HEART?
Well my current groups are wonderful – I’m very privileged to work with find human beings are sophisticated and motivated to grow.
And looking back I have fond recollections of a group with little boys ages five to seven who had Attention Deficit Disorder and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder. It was a bit wild, but we had 3 of us therapists and huge amounts of structure. They were really quite delightful.
DO YOU CONFESS TO ANY GROUP SKELETONS IN YOUR CLOSET?
Sure. The worst one was a group of adolescent girls who had a premature cohesion in the very first session. “Hey this is great – we all hate school and we all hate our mothers!”
I missed the transferential clue and felt quite proud of myself at this apparent bonding as they strode, arms linked, out of the office. This lasted about an hour until my boss and the hospital security staff arrived at my office to inform me of the vandalism involving fire extinguishers. And voilà–they all hated me from then on.
OF ALL YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO CGPA, OF WHICH ARE YOU MOST PROUD?
I would say it’s a fairly recent contribution. I was on the committee involved in defining and redesigning how the new CGPA would offer experiential training. For the past two conferences I’ve been the consultant for the experiential training groups.
First what we did was review all the descriptions of process groups, experiential training in CGPA and AGPA and across the country in training programs. We crystallized a definition and description and we outlined how one can train for the role of the leader.
We established something called a peer circle; in which the leaders of the experiential groups and those mentoring for future leadership met with the consultant before, during and after the conference groups to discuss the leadership issues and to review relevant literature.
CAN YOU TELL ME WHY THIS MATTERS?
Well, let me tell you how we used to do it! In the original CGPA, what would happen is that every few years, someone from CGPA would be selected and sponsored to attend AGPA’s Leader Designate Institute. Along with a list of articles, one would have the unique experience of a specialized institute for leaders training to lead experiential groups. I had the privilege of being the last person CGPA sponsored to a leader-designate group in the early 2000s. I was bright eyed, bushy tailed and grateful and I actually read the whole bibliography and made notes on every detail. I went off to NY city, eager for this training experience. I understand from many anecdotes over the years that many people have very valuable experiences in this format. My own experience was… (a word I learned from Geri Alpert) ‘sub-optimal’. My experience taught me that this type of training needs to be very carefully designed and implemented.
WHAT WAS THE UNCAREFUL DESIGN?
Well, to me, one of the issues was group composition (subgroups / competition)– and the other was leadership.
GOTCHA. WHOSE IDEA WAS IT THAT YOU BE PRESIDENT?
It was kind of a backroom murmur… after I stepped in to substitute for the president for a CGPA board meeting at the conference, people began (in jest!) to say I was looking rather presidential… and a couple of people asked if I would consider stepping in, to fill a void, with the president-elect planning to be out of the country for a significant portion of the upcoming term. My first reaction was HMMM… I had mixed feelings about it. The presidency was not something I had on the list of my professional goals, and I had felt that my energies were best spent encouraging group therapy in our local Manitoba area. I had been invited to consider this for over 15 years and I had kept saying ‘maybe another time’, but now it was a better fit. A limited term, and a skill set I had, and my own life stage was such that I was more available.
WHAT PARTS OF BEING PRESIDENT ARE EASIER AND HARDER THAN YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD BE?
Well I was clear at the beginning that I wouldn’t be strong in networking, building partnerships, and marketing our brand. I think I’d make a good internal president rather than an external one! My gifts are in the line of consolidating what we do together rather than expansion… but the people coming before me and after me are really good at that.
WHAT IS THE MOST SURPRISING THING FOR YOU ABOUT BEING PRESIDENT?
How much I like it! I enjoy our growth and progress together as a team and I’m delighted how people are catching on to some of the processes and structures we are trying to implement. (Like how to organize our time and priorities in meetings.) I’m having a good time but it’s containable, not taking over my life.
WHAT ARE YOU WRITING ABOUT THESE DAYS?
I’m working on a kind of memoire of a time back in the 80s when a dear friend died of breast cancer, leaving two young children behind. These ’kids’ looked me up last winter with a request to tell them about the mother they couldn’t remember. It’s very moving for me to revisit such an important part of my own life story.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW GROUP THERAPISTS?
Keep working on understanding yourself and your interactions with others. Get good consultation and be open to personal growth throughout your whole life.
Ingrid Söchting, Ph.D., R. Psych. has recently published a book:
“Cognitive Behavioral Group Therapy: Challenges and Opportunities”
Click on the link for more information: http://ca.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118510356.html
Ingrid Sochting is Chief Psychologist in an outpatient mental health program and Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. She has been instrumental in developing CBT group therapy programs for depression, OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety, and PTSD, as well as interpersonal therapy (IPT) groups for later life depression. She supervises and teaches CBT and IPT to psychology and psychiatry residents, and is co-director of the Richmond Psychotherapy Training Program. She has also published over 25 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in the field; and is a Canadian certified CBT therapist and a Certified Group Therapist of the American Group Psychotherapy Association.
GALA RENAMING CONTEST!
Rename the CGPA gala and win great prizes!
The Canadian Group Psychotherapy Association is proud to announce the 2015 Annual Conference
“The Brain in Group: How Individuals Flourish Together”
May 6th to 9th, 2015 at the Chestnut Hotel and Conference Centre
The new all year Incentive Drive for member registration will be in place as of January 1, 2015.
On October 20th 2014, the Board of directors at CGPA approved the incentive drive to span over the whole year for 2015, with the provision that it be reviewed after one year.
A 33% discount to your following year membership per each new member introduced- compounded for multiple introductions. If the compounded value of discounts is above your membership fee it can be applied to your conference fees for the following year.
As well, any new member you help register will realize a 33% discount on their 2014 membership fee.
In addition, present members will get $25 discount and students and retirees get $15 discount on their regular membership fee for 2015 if they pay their fees in the month of January 2015.
For more information about benefits, go to http://cgpa.ca/membership/membership-benefits/
NEW EXCITING CHANGES TO THE WEBSITE!
OTHER MEMBERSHIP BENEFITS
a) SEARCH AND FIND COLLEAGUES who are members of CGPA in the http://cgpa.ca/membership/members-list/
b) DIRECTORY OF GROUPS
- Post your groups on the cgpa website so others can refer clients to you.
- Find Groups accepting members. Click on this link: http://cgpa.ca/resources/looking-for-group-therapy/
- Post items of interest to others such as training programs, group and office space, in the classified section. Click on this link: http://cgpa.ca/resources/classified/
d) GET CONNECTED and stay connected through LinkedIn Tweeting and Facebook 🙂
- Click on this link: http://cgpa.ca/join-linkedin-cgpa-group/
MEMBERS WHO BROUGHT IN A NEW MEMBER
NEW MEMBERS FOR 2014 – “WELCOME”