Group therapy has always been challenging and transformative for me, both as a member and as a leader. Group therapy session are often lively and exciting and filled with emotions, sometimes spoken, sometimes buried deeply below the surface, and often in a transitional space as they make their way into the group’s shared consciousness. Similarly, being President of this organization continues to be challenging, exciting and a great source of personal and professional growth for me. I have been reflecting on how my corporate experience combined with my training as a modern analytic group leader has informed my leadership of this organization. I am aware how different I am as a leader in this role than I was leading teams in the corporate world. In this role, I find myself setting the frame, gaining consensus on strategy, and letting the board members along with their committees sort out exactly what to do and how to get things done. I am delighted that we have a dynamic board and effective committees. Let’s take a look at what we as an organization have accomplished so far this year and at some of the things we have planned for the coming months.
In January, we held the 2017 Annual Meeting. The centerpiece was the panel discussion I moderated entitled Boundaries, Distance, & Connection: The Impact of Technology on Group. Panelists Blake Davis, Jan Morris, Stacy Nakell, and Amiel Romain all presented unique views on the topic, followed by breakout groups that reconnected with the large group to further the discussion. I was particularly impressed with how much leadership and energy was shown by some of our newer members in the small groups as well as in the large group conversation. A major change afoot at AGPS is this year’s shift in the format of our conference.
A major change afoot at AGPS is this year’s shift in the format of our conference.
Gianna Viola graciously hosted our Membership Party at her home in February. This party has evolved over the years. One change we made this time around was to hold this event earlier in order to encourage timely membership renewals. We had a diverse representation of members from newer to longer term, including many of our scholarship recipients. As a board, we are hoping that everyone reading this is a member and your membership is up to date. Please log in at austingroups.org and join if you are not a member or renew if your membership has lapsed.
Our expansion of the institute program last year is continuing to evolve. Patricia Florence led a Student, New Professional and Intermediate Level Institute in February entitled On the Fringe: Working With Feelings of Being an Outsider in Group. We decided to cancel Jev Sikes’ institute that was scheduled for April 22 and 23 because of low enrollment. We are in the process of gathering feedback from the membership on why more people did not sign up and will be offering a modified version of this institute soon. We are continuing to learn what works and what doesn’t and are committed to offering compelling programing for the Austin community and please feel free to contact me or another board member with feedback on what sort of institutes you would like to lead or attend.
The AGPA Annual Meeting in March, held again this year in New York City, is always fun and educational to attend. I love meeting up with old friends, making new friends, and being in the same place with so many passionate group leaders. I love seeing how well Austin is represented as attendees and faculty at the event. Our Austin community happy hour on the Wednesday of the conference is turning into an annual event and was enjoyable as always to attend.
Most recently, on April 1 we held our second annual Fabulous Casino Night. The committee hosted a fun and exciting event to benefit our scholarship fund. It was great seeing so many of you come out to support this cause. Here is a brief shout-out to everyone who participated in making the event a success: Nichole Hart (committee chair), Bree Howard, Julie Falchuk, Deborah Sharp, Kate Murray, John Cooper, Stacy Spencer,
Kristen Wicke, Scott Phillips, Anne Marie Jennings, Gianna Viola, Mary Lynn Marinucci, Jason Sugg, yours truly and the rest of the cats in my band, David Perkins, Steve Cheney, Emily Harrington, and Michael Huebner. You’ll notice that some of these folks are AGPS board members and many are not. Thanks to all who made this event another success!
Joseph Acosta will be leading our Spring Workshop on Friday, May 19 entitled Finding Words for Our Neurobiological Responses: Establishing the Foundations of Emotional Connection in Group. Joseph leads groups and trains therapists locally, nationally, and internationally. He has expertise in group leadership from a number of theoretical perspectives and a deep understanding of how to apply concepts of interpersonal neurobiology in the moment in group. Registration is open for this event, and I encourage you to go to austingroups.org to register for this unique afternoon workshop.
We are still working on the schedule for our Friday Night Conversations. We are planning on holding three this year and will be rolling out the program soon. I don’t want to give any spoilers yet, but you can be assured the topics will be fun and thought-provoking!
To me, the most important benefit of membership is belonging to a group of like-minded therapists.
A major change afoot at AGPS is this year’s shift in the format of our conference. Our new annual conference committee is chaired by Katie Griffin. She and committee members Ryan Spencer and Jay Erwin-Grotsky are very excited about rolling out a new two-day conference format. The conference will be held on October 20 and 21, and we are very pleased that Dr. Molyn Leszcz will be presenting. For those of you who don’t know Molyn, he is a psychiatrist from Canada and has collaborated with Irvin Yalom on the latest edition of the group therapy “bible” – Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy. In addition to having an amazing presenter, we will be incorporating breakout groups in which everyone in the conference will get the experience participating in process sessions with one of several senior group therapists from the Austin community.
I encourage everyone to log in to austingroups.org, check to see whether your membership is up to date, and renew or join if not. The benefits of membership include listing your groups on our website, receiving reduced rates for training events, and being invited to member-only events. To me, the most important benefit of membership is belonging to a group of like-minded therapists. AGPS has truly become my professional home and I hope it is or will become that for you.
Dave Kaplowitz, LMFT, CGP