by Marc G. Schramm, Psy.D., C.G.P.

I don't recall seeing any statistics on the matter (please let me know if you have), but I believe that most therapists who are practicing group psychotherapy received little or no training in that modality when studying for the degree in their discipline. That certainly hasn't prevented many therapists from getting very good training in group. There is, however, wide variation in the quality and depth of training that group psychotherapists get.

National and regional group psychotherapy organizations help, but there has not been a recognized standard for training. This situation began to change in 1994, with the establishment of the National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists. To quote their mission statement: "The National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists advances group psychotherapy by establishing and promoting standards for professional practice and for the public benefit. The Registry certifies group psychotherapists according to nationally accepted criteria, presents them to mental health professionals, employers, insurers, educators and consumers, and promotes the use of group psychotherapy as an autonomous method of treatment."

A number of managed care organizations have endorsed the Registry, but more to the point, approximately 3000 group psychotherapists have already been certified, throughout the United States and more than a dozen other countries, and representing a variety of professional disciplines.

The National Registry has drawn up guidelines of group psychotherapy practice, along with setting criteria for certification and continuing education. For more information about the Registry, including how to meet certification standards, write them at 25 East 21st Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10010. Or call them at 212-477-1600 (fax 212-979-6627). Oh, and tell them to get on line already!

Speaking of continuing education, I have a few meetings to tell you about. The first is sponsored by The Tri-State Group Psychotherapy Society. It will be held in Worthington, Ohio (Metropolitan Columbus) at Harding Hospital on Friday, November 1st. The main event on the program features former AGPA president and Distinguished Fellow Walter Stone, M.D. This session will involve a demonstration group session, consisting of volunteers from the audience.

Afterwards, the group leader will present her work for consultation by Dr. Stone. Group participants and the audience will then have an opportunity to discuss the consultation process. The meeting will also include an all day process group, as well as workshops on women's groups, gestalt, groups for gay, lesbian, and bisexual clients, and time-limited groups. There will also be a plenary session about managed care. For more information, contact Joan Peckskamp at P.O. Box 8301, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45208, phone # 513-871-2935. Or contact me (see below).

The Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy has announced their Collegial Seminars for 1996-97. These are held at Somerville Hospital in Somerville, Massachusetts. There are 28 different seminars (it is possible to register for individual sessions) ranging from "The New Group" to "Termination." For more information call NSGP at 617-484-4994.

The Illinois Group Psychotherapy Society will have their annual conference October 11-12. There will be all-day institutes and a two-day basic group course. Workshop topics include Boundaries in Group Therapy, Effective Handling of the Group Scapegoat, Group Therapy as Diagnostic Tool, Co-Therapy Relationships, and more. For more information, call Hylene Dublin at 847-446-5570.

If you know of upcoming meetings on group psychotherapy, drop me a line. I may use this space to let others know of it.

Before concluding, I have an addendum to an earlier column--"No Fine Print, Part One." I referenced Rutan and Stone's group psychotherapy book in regard to group contracts. Shortly thereafter, it was brought to my attention (I saw a post to a listserv by Scott Rutan himself) that in the second edition of their book, Rutan and Stone substituted the idea of "agreement" for "contract." They feel the latter is too legalistic and in the realm of the Superego whereas the former is more "interpersonal" in its focus on commitment and responsibility. Has anybody out there made this change? If so, what are your impressions of the difference?

Suggested Reading:

National Registry of Group Psychotherapists (1995) Certified Group Psychotherapists.
Rutan, J.S., & Stone, W.N. (1993). Psychodynamic Group Psychotherapy Society. (2nd Edition). New York: Guilford.


Marc G. Schramm, Psy.D., is a Founding Certificant of the National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists, a clinical member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association, and President of the Tri-State Group Psychotherapy Society. He is currently Cincinnati-Dayton Regional Director for Counseling Consultants, Inc. Call Dr. Schramm at 513-984-9222