President-Elect's Column

President-elect’s column

The new president-elect introduces himself and presents his vision for the division.

By Lee Gillis, PhD

I wanted to use this President-Elect column to briefly introduce myself and to talk about the vision I have at this point for Div. 49. I am in my 27th year of teaching psychology at Georgia College, located in Milledgeville, Ga. While we had a master's degree program in psychology for the first 15 years that I was here, we are now exclusively undergraduate and the public liberal arts university for the State of Georgia. My role here is as department chair (and I am so thankful to be trained in group work) and teaching an advanced social psychology class in group dynamics, a lower level interpersonal behavior class, and currently a senior seminar in adventure therapy.

My first vision point is focused on graduate training and internship placement. I work with undergraduates seeking graduate training in psychology. Mentoring those who especially want to study group psychology or group psychotherapy is perplexing since it is very difficult to find out current programs and professors within the programs who have research labs focused on group work. So, one of my interests is gathering together a fluid list of doctoral training (and master’s training) programs where students can study group work. This focus on graduate study is consistent with the Society’s and represents the study of group psychology within social psychology programs and the study and practice of group psychotherapy and clinical and counseling psychology programs. I am eager to get an accurate listing of where students might study and would appreciate your help in sending me that information if this applies to you. Thanks go out to Rosamond Smith for helping to gather some initial information.

I also know of the difficulties in internship placements, but especially identifying internships that have a group focus. So in conjunction with identifying graduate-level training in group psychology and group psychotherapy I would also like to gather a list of internship sites where doctoral students in clinical and counseling psychology can develop group psychotherapy skills.

My second point is focused on the Internet, Web 2.0, social networking, and how these tools can help our society communicate— especially with early career professionals and student members. Leann Terry Diederich has been especially helpful as we have updated our divisions website and worked to keep it current. Leann has also set up a Facebook page that you are welcome to “like” to receive updates. We will continue to use the website as a method for disseminating information about the society including the excellent work, under Tom Treadwell’s editorship in The Group Psychologist, and updates on articles in group dynamics, under Craig Parks’s editorship (soon to pass the mantle to David Marcus). In addition the listserv will continue to be an information source pushing out emails monthly that contain the numerous requests received to share with membership, and pushing out immediately any critical timesensitive information. Any suggestions you have on how to use the web in its many facets to communicate more effectively to members and attract new members is appreciated.

My last vision point is a focus on activity based experiential group psychotherapy. Much of my group related writing and research has been in adventure therapy. This has been an area of activity- based experiential group psychotherapy that I find useful not only in its traditional outdoor setting but indoors with the groups and families with whom I work in my very small private practice. When presenting activities at professional conferences like APA, I and my colleagues have received positive feedback that the activities presented were ones they felt they could ethically and responsibly utilize immediately with the groups of children, adolescents, young adults, and other populations with whom they were working.

I plan to provide a focus during my presidential year on multiple forms of activity-based experiential group psychotherapy. My personal foundations of group training (in addition to working at summer camp for six years) led me to appreciate the active group work of gestalt therapist, psychodramist, and followers of Satir. Their work along with the influence of Milton Erickson, Outward Bound, and Project Adventure have framed how I work with groups. I’m aware that others practice activity-based experiential group psychotherapy and come from other foundations and utilize other activities. I would hope to be able to highlight as many of these practitioners and the research supported work that they do.

Please feel free to contact me with suggestions, questions, or anything that excites or concerns you about the Society in general or my vision in particular. I’m pretty easy to find on the Internet; a simple search of “Lee Gillis” should get you to me.