Who We Are:
The American Board of Group Psychology (ABGP), represents the Group Specialty within the American Board of Professional psychology (ABPP). Group Psychology is recognized as a specialty by both the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) and the American Psychological Association (APA).
What We Want to Do:
We believe that Board Certified training directors and group coordinators are great role models for graduate students and early career psychologists. ABGP is seeking to expand the number of board-certified Group Specialists among highly qualified Training Directors or Group Coordinators focused on Group Psychology.
How We Want To Do That:
ABGP is announcing the availability of two awards for 2019 of up to $1,000 to defray the costs of the board certification (including travel and lodging) application and examination process in group psychology. This is a newly created award. These awards apply only to training directors or group coordinators who have not yet attained ABPP board certification.
The Difference Between ABPP And ABGP Awards:
The ABPP Foundation provides awards to training directors in any specialty. ABGP is specifically for training directors or group coordinators involved in training programs with an emphasis on the specialty of group psychology.
Who Can Apply:
Current Training Directors, co-directors, or Group coordinators that meet current ABPP criteria (e.g., degree, licensure, experience) to become board certified in group psychology, and are either:
1. Part of an APA-accredited doctoral training program in clinical, counseling, or school psychology which includes an emphasis on group psychology or
2. Part of an APA-accredited or APPIC member internship/postdoctoral residency program in psychology which includes an emphasis on group psychology.
What Applicants Need To Submit:
A brief statement (500 words or less) describing your interest in ABPP board certification and how board certification might enhance your current work in training doctoral students in group
psychology. Please describe your group responsibilities and number and type of hours devoted to teaching and supervising group psychology.
What Is Expected Of You:
Upon receiving the award, you are expected to complete the application for board certification in group psychology within two years from the date of the award notification.
How And When To Receive Reimbursement:
Requests for reimbursement of expenses associated with the application process should be submitted after the successful completion of all requirements for board certification in group psychology, including the oral examination.
Receipts for expenses associated with the process of applying for and completing ABPP board certification would need to be submitted at that time.
Please keep in mind that upon successful completion of the examination, the examinee will be awarded 40 APA approved Continuing Education credits.
Applicants must submit all above referenced materials in electronic
Misha Bogomaz, Psy.D., ABPP
Deadline for submission is close of business, January 31, 2019.
No late applications will be accepted.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has declared group therapy a specialty. This good news came after several group organizations included ABGP and Division of 49 (The group division of APA) along with the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA) petitioned for this recognition. Most group clinicians are well aware of the specialized training that group requires, but many psychotherapists who do not practice group are not aware of the years of training it requires.
The implications for group being recognized as a specialty have yet to be determined. Hopefully, more doctoral programs will be required to have classes and supervision in group. APA’s decision may also influence insurance companies to cover more group treatment. Again, we are at the early stages so no one is sure what changes will actually be made. A consortium of leaders from AGPA, Division 49 and ABGP are combining forces currently to see what can be done to promote specialized group training throughout the nation’s psychology training programs.
Dear ABGP members,
This past Friday and Saturday your ABGP board convened for its annual face-to-face meeting in Chicago. We are a small membership of nearly fifty members. As many of you may know, our existence within ABPP has been questioned at times. With the stewardship of our president, Dr. Joel Frost and the past president Dr. Sally Barlow, ABPP now sees us as small but powerful. We continue our mission of working as gatekeepers in the field of group psychology. We strive to preserve the quality of care that public receives in terms of group psychotherapy, currently the most popular modality in the United States.
Nonetheless, if we cannot improve our recruitment our existence in ABPP may be compromised. The board worked, tirelessly (no, I am not being dramatic) with the mission of trying to recruit new members who would qualify for ABGP. A vision of broadening our net to bring in other group therapists besides our psychodynamic brothers and sisters was proposed. We will reach out to AGPA, drama therapists, and Division 49 to expand our membership. As with all of ABPP, we are also reaching out to early career psychologists (ECP’s). Expanding our membership will help us in promoting and preserving the quality of group psychology in the United States.
As many of you know, group psychotherapy was denied specialty status in APA for the fourth time. We will join forces with other organizations in hiring a professional technical writer familiar with navigating these proposals. If group psychotherapy does not gain specialty status with APA, insurance companies may stop reimbursing for services. We are confident that our proposal will be accepted once the bureaucratic waters are properly navigated. ABGP will be giving $5000 toward this effort. This contribution will help to hire the writer.
The Group Academy has been re-established with Drs. Andy Eig and Tom Lowry as officers. After many years of serving on the board, Tom will be stepping down at year’s end and Dr. Sally Barlow will be joining Andy as an officer. The Academy’s primary objective is to educate the field and the public about group psychology. We have established a website for these purposes.
If you have an announcement about your recent publications or presentations, please e-mail me and I will post it on the website. We are always looking for brief articles or blog posts about group. Please consider submitting them as well.
Treasurer Dr. Joel Frost reports that ABGP is in excellent financial health. We have had two new exams this year (with one more to go). This is a 200 per cent increase. We have also trimmed our expenses significantly. Instead of having an expensive steak dinner at our board meeting, we have a working dinner with pizza and wine. Despite being a die hard New Yorker, I have found the Chicago style pizza and the warmth of the company to be quite enjoyable.
The board also planned our Annual dinner in Manhattan. We have found a less costly ($30 per person) and more personable solution. Stay tuned for the invitation to my home in downtown Manhattan (West 20th Street). This is a chance for us to get together with friends and colleagues and to welcome potential members in an authentic Manhattan loft. Please bring a friend or two who may be interested in joining ABPP. Even if they are have no interest in joining bring them anyway! All potential members will dine for free.
To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, here is the part where one needs to ask not what ABGP can do for you but what you can do for ABGP. We are all Group certified because of our dedication to the group modality. As an extremely small membership, we all need to use whatever resources we have. Professional and personal responsibilities pull us all from ABGP. What may seem like a small gesture can make a huge impact on ABGP. Do you know of someone who would be a good addition to ABPP? Bring him or her to the ABGP dinner in Manhattan. Can you write a 500 word blog post? We are always looking for people to sit on an oral exam.
I look forward to hearing from all of you soon.
Andy Eig, Ph.D. ABPP
Secretary, Academy Officer
Why Get Certified?
The practice of American Psychology has become increasingly complex and competitive. There has been a decided trend toward practice focused in delimited areas with a number of such areas emerging as specialties. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) establishes and continually incorporates the current developments in the definition and requirements of specialties in professional psychology. Over the past decade 11 new specialties have joined 3 traditional specialties which have been in the field for the past 55 years. The new specialties have emerged through public needs and professional advancements. The public is not expected to be knowledgeable about specialty requirements such as accredited doctoral programs, internships, or supervised post-doctoral training. The clearest and most responsible way for a psychologist to represent herself/himself to the public, third-parties, and the profession as a specialist is to be certified through an organized peer process as meeting the standards and demonstrating the competencies required in the specialty. ABPP is the only non-profit professional unitary organization with multiple specialty board quality controls recognized by the profession as certifying specialty practitioners in psychology. An American Board of Group Psychology (ABGP) designation shows the public that the psychologist has attained a high level of competency in group psychotherapy and group dynamics. It demonstrates that the practitioner is dedicated to the practice of group in an ethical and responsible way. Perhaps the most important reason to be board certified in group psychology is that, as a clinician who identifies as a Group Psychologist, the field needs you as an advocate as we move forward into a more challenging environment for the legitimacy of our work. Beyond that, here are twelve benefits to you:
Twelve Benefits of an ABGP Certification
• Board certification in Psychology indicates specialty expertise which distinguishes you from other psychologists who work with patients with health issues.
• Board certification in Psychology distinguishes you on the job market! • Uniformed psychologists with board certification who work at the Department of Defense or Public Health Service receive a monthly specialty pay bonus.
• Health care providers in other disciplines consider board certification as a minimum standard to document training and expertise for patient care.
• Board certification facilitates license mobility in most states.
• Many hospitals ask about board certification when applying for privileges.
• Some hospitals or medical centers require a board certification for approval of privileges, and others are moving towards this policy.
• Some academic and academic medical settings require board certification for promotion and tenure.
• Health insurance companies routinely ask about board certifications when applying to be part of their networks.
• Consumers of health/mental health services will increasingly ask about board certification, and can identify board certified psychologists on line.
• Access ABPP online resources for networking and referrals.
• Join other leaders in Psychology to define excellence in our field!
Criterion 1 – appendix b docx Criterion 1 appendix – a Criterion I appendix c Criterion I appendix d Criterion IX appendix Criterion VI appendix Criterion VIII appendix Criterion X appendix Criterion XI – appendix b Criterion XI appendix a Criterion XII Appendix Petition – Final
Please read the following, as it pertains to your practice, and to the field of Group Psychology. The petition is posted above.
Group Psychology is the only one of 15 ABPP Specialties that is neither considered a Proficiency, nor a Specialty by CRSPPP, or the APA. This may have many implications down the road, such as reduced insurance reimbursement, or refusal to pay should insurance companies further downgrade their coverage. Based upon this alone, should we be applying to become a Specialty within ABPP, we would be denied.
A small working group called the Group Specialty Council, initiated by Nina Brown with APA, Division 49 (Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy), along with Sally Barlow (ABGP), and Eleanor Counselman representing AGPA have worked to obtain specialty status for Group Psychology by submitting an application to CRSPPP. This is important because it would demonstrate that Group Psychology has specific skills that require specialized training.
This 205 page document has recently been submitted, and is now under review. We have attempted this process three previous times, and we have been denied three times- without explanation. This application is much more robust, is proposed and supported by three groups, and has much more supportive documentation. It represents the strongest argument that we have been able to muster so far. We now need your help.
The next step is that the application is posted for two months of public comment. This is where we ask your help.
It is a chance for people who want Group to be approved as a separate Specialty, i.e. one that has a specialty-specific skill set and training needs, to say so. The comments are not so much about the petition but about the need for group as a Specialty, and we would especially appreciate comments from each of you that support that need.
Talking points that you could include could be:
1) you could note the wide variety of populations for which there is evidence of group therapy effectiveness,
2) the need for groups in order to provide quicker access to mental health care,
3) or comment on the particular skills required for group therapy leadership.
4) the need to be recognized as a Specialty to encourage specialized training
5) how Group Psychology is a Specialty distinct from other forms of intervention
6) the specific advantages and contributions of Group
We are told that the committee that makes specialty decisions does pay attention to these comments. Anyone can post; you do not need to be a member of APA or even a psychologist. Thus, you might consider forwarding this email to supportive colleagues who might also be willing to submit supportive comments.
Your action in support of this petition can, and will, have a direct effect upon Group being designated as a Specialty…..or not.
Given that we have tried three times, and that this is the most robust argument that we can muster, if this does not work, we may have nothing else that we can do.
Your participation will have a significant impact.
The end date for public comment submission is 3/16/2015.
We thank you for your help.
To access the petition and leave a comment, please go to:
You will see on this page a notice that you will need to sign in, and set an email address and password. Once you click accept, you will be sent to a page with the various petitions open for public comment. Please select the Group Petition, follow the prompts, and submit your online comments.
Joel C. Frost, Ed.D., ABPP, President, American Board of Group Psychology
Sally Barlow, Ph.D., ABPP, Past-President, American Board of Group Psychology
Feel free to post your comments below.
5-Minute Lessons #1
Within 300 seconds or less I invite the reader to learn something new, or re-learn something old, about group psychotherapy.
In a recent group, the newest member (approximately 3 months) suddenly decided to re-locate to anther state. Her decision was finalized while she was on a 4-week absence from group to her newly chosen city. As she had been expected to return to group after only one week away, the group became anxious and suspicious that her absence indicated her intention to leave group. In a regularly scheduled individual session with this patient, she asked me to inform the group she would be moving out of town, but intended to return to say goodbye in person. I informed the group about both of her intentions.
The group reacted with a mixture of disappointment that she was leaving before they got to know her, and annoyance they had made any emotional investment in the relationship at all. They vehemently protested her intention to return in person. Many valid arguments were presented to bolster the case for the waste of time it would be to see her again. While there was underlying disappointment with me that I had chosen such a temporary member (her decision to re-locate was news to me as well!) the group clearly had a much easier time being angry with this patient than with me.
My re-locating patient, on the other hand, was excited about sharing her decision with the group. She considered this decision to made from a position of growth and only imagined that the group would share in her delight. She intended to tell the group what an instrumental part they had played in assisting her in accomplishing a crucial developmental milestone. I had a problem, should I allow her to come back and “disrupt” the group? If she did return it is likely she would be blindsided by anger and resentments. This would hardly be the celebration of a developmental milestone she had envisioned for herself.
I encouraged the discussion of her return. A good deaI of frustration was expressed which extended to previous members that had left and a slew of other gripes. I inquired as to my contribution to these problems. Apparently, I had significant culpability for many of them. While I was not specifically asked to make a decision regarding the return of the re-locating patient, the discussion was heated and exciting. The group eventually moved on to other emotionally relevant issues.
Theoretically, I could make a case for any number of decisions regarding the return of the re-locating member. In the end I chose to honor the group contract regarding termination. However, I was concerned the re-locating patient was walking into an emotional ambush. I decided to tell her about the groups reactions prior to her return.
The patient made an informed decision and returned to the group. After some initial resistance to directly approach the issue, members of the group talked about what they had discussed about her during her absence. Being emotionally prepared, the re-locating patient was very understanding of the feelings of the group members. Hostility was thus diffused and the re-locating patient was now seen as courageous for returning. The group heard directly from her the meaning and constructive value they had had for her. A group situation that was hurtling towards an emotional disaster became an unexpectedly moving experience.
I am pleased with the decisions I made to allow the group to express their upset with me and hold to the contract. Likewise I am pleased I told this patient in advance what she would be walking into. I believe I relied less on a theory to guide me and more on the basis of what seemed most kind and thoughtful. What would be the point of being theoretically correct but risking a disruption that could not be repaired? In hindsight, I believe all would have been better served if I had openly told the group I was considering discussing with the re-locating patient the group’s reactions to her leaving prior to her attending the group. However, when I left the final group session before her return, I had no idea I would do anything different that I usually do. I just left that session with an uneasy feeling that demanded attention, and fortunately, received it.
Gil Spielberg, Ph.d, ABPP
Oct. 3, 2014
Welcome to the ABGP blog. This space will be used to post announcements of conference, current findings and theoretical papers related to group. We also will have group dilemmas posts where senior clinicians will provide their take on the common problems in group treatment.
Andy Eig, PHD, ABPP