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Student Committee Report and Some Additional Words of Wisdom

Training sites that help improve group therapy skills

Currently, one of the student committee's main priorities is assisting the process of updating Division 49's website. Along those lines, we would love to hear your input. If you have any ideas regarding content or ways to make this website user friendly for students, you are welcome to participate in this process and ideas can be sent to Kyle Barry by email. This new website will also facilitate our initiative to the student membership and participation in Division 49. For the second year, during APA Conference season, the student committee will be in the process of evaluating student posters for the annual Student Poster Award. Over the next two newsletters the student column will introduce the newest student committee member and will focus on mentorship, a key component of the student committee's model. Stay tuned and I hope we see many of you at the APA conference in Washington, DC. We conclude this section with some words of wisdom.

Words of Wisdom: Qualities to Look for in Internship/Practicum Sites
to Improve Your Group Therapy Skills

As I (GC) draw towards the end of my pre-doctoral internship and the light at the end of the graduate school tunnel is shining ever so brightly, I decided to share some of my thoughts regarding qualities to consider in potential training sites that will help you improve your overall group therapy skills. This list is by no means exhaustive and represents only my personal opinion as I reflect on my training experiences over the past five years. In my experience, I have looked for:

  1. Sites that emphasize group therapy: Of the utmost importance is to search for training sites that utilize group therapy as one of their primary treatment modalities. This shows that the site believes in the efficacy of group therapy, both as a stand-alone therapy and used in conjunction with other modalities. Additionally, it demonstrates that they are committed to training future group therapists for a healthcare system that will demand competent group workers.
  2. Sites that offer different types of groups: I have been fortunate enough to train at mental health facilities that offer a wide array of groups. This has included everything across the spectrum from completely open-ended interpersonal process groups, process groups related to a specific topics (e.g., sexual trauma, recovery from substance dependence, adjustment to chronic medical problems, men's/women's issues, etc.) to very structured and skills-based psychoeducational groups (i.e., Mindfulness, Dialectical Behavior Therapy Coping Skills, anxiety coping skills, health behavior change, diabetes management, etc). Receiving training in a variety of groups allows the development of your own personal style that you will continue to refine over your career. Student Committee Report and Some Additional Words of Wisdom
  3. Sites that will allow you to create groups based on needs of the population: This has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had as a trainee. Structuring a group from start to finish will force you to develop a deeper understanding of group therapy at both the level of administrator and facilitator. Specifically, if afforded this opportunity you will have to consider the needs of the population served, selecting potential group members, pre-group screening, pre-group preparation, group composition, focus of the group, type of group, duration, frequency of sessions, outcome measures, etc., all of which need to be consistent with research trends and best practice guidelines. Whew! That sounds like a lot, and it is a lot! However, imagine the opportunity for professional growth that is inherent in this type of responsibility. This is a great opportunity to become immersed in the group literature. This has been extremely rewarding for me.
  4. Sites that offer extensive group training in a circumscribed area of interest: If you are coming from a graduate program that is highly specialized, or you just have a strong professional interest in working with a specific population, it is definitely worth researching which types of sites are available that can meet this need. For example, many sites offer different types of groups that all involve working with specific populations such as dual diagnosis, survivors of domestic violence, etc. If it is difficult to find such a specific site, I would also recommend broadening your search to sites that provide multiple services to a diverse population. In the era of interdisciplinary treatment settings, you would be surprised by the contribution you can make with extensive knowledge in a specific area. In other words, you could become the "go-to" person for (Insert specialty area here) quicker than you might think! You can continue to develop this specialty area as well as furthering your competency in multiple other areas.

Remember, these tidbits are just some features of training sites that I have considered over the years to enhance my group therapy skills. I know that all of the student affiliates of Division 49 will continue to take their own unique training paths fueled by a passion for improving group therapy skills.

Since this will be my (GC) last contribution to this newsletter as a member of the student committee, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Division 49 committee, members, student committee, and all of the student affiliates of Division 49 for allowing me to contribute to each month's edition of The Group Psychologist. I specifically want to extend a special thanks to Dr. Martyn Whittingham at Wright State University for encouraging my involvement with Division 49 so early in my graduate career. It truly has been a rewarding experience. For all of the student members, I will see you soon in the early professional group!