Austin Group Psychotherapy Society


Austin Group Psychotherapy Society Newsletter

The Austin Group Psychotherapy Society is an interdisciplinary organization of psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatrists who share a commitment to continuing professional development and to excellence in the practice of group psychotherapy.

Over the past decade, the Austin Group Psychotherapy Society (AGPS) has gained national recognition for the quality of our training opportunities and the warmth and enthusiasm of our members.

AGPS trainings and social events are designed to mentor new professionals and students, expand the knowledge and clinical skills of all members, and enrich and rejuvenate established practitioners.

  • Tuesday, September 27, 2022 4:28 PM | Melissa Savoie AGPS Coordinator (Administrator)

    AGPS member, Kathleen Adams, Ph.D, is the author of Attuned Treatment of Developmental Trauma: Non-abused, High-functioning People Living Outside of Time (©2022, Routledge). This book takes a painstaking look at developmental trauma as it manifests in group, individual, and combined psychotherapies, tracking the growth of non-abused individuals who have courageously addressed overwhelming childhood experiences to make sense of the chaos in their lives. Adams has specialized in primitive states, dissociation, and developmental trauma since 1977. Extensive experience in inpatient settings complements her long-term outpatient psychotherapy practice with children, adolescents, and adults.

  • Tuesday, September 13, 2022 1:10 PM | Melissa Savoie AGPS Coordinator (Administrator)

    AGPS member, Stacy Nakell, LCSW, CGP, is the author of Treatment for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors: An Integrative Psychodynamic Approach (©2023, Routledge). The book establishes a theory and practice of a psychodynamic approach to treating body-focused repetitive behavior disorders (BFRBDs), one grounded in attachment theory and neurobiological research. Nakell provides psychotherapy to people struggling with body-focused repetitive behaviors and provides clinical consultation.

  • Monday, December 20, 2021 3:00 PM | Scott Phillips

    Dear friends & colleagues,

    This message marks the last time I will write to you as President. It’s been a challenging past two years for us all and it’s been an honor and a privilege working with such a great Board. I certainly had different expectations about what our organization would be navigating when I started this role. Though I would have liked to be working on different priorities, l am quite proud of what we have accomplished together. 

    In a quick pivot the board successfully transitioned to provide events and training online. Our Board successfully gave energy to maintaining our connections and continuing to develop as an organization. We provided more events with a focus on the impact of diversity and difference. We welcomed a large cohort of scholarship recipients. We transitioned to a new website that allows better membership management and removes the need for technical skills on our board. We continue to be financially sound. We continue to grow our numbers and welcome new members. Shifting and maintaining all this during a pandemic is a testament to the Board and to our organization.

    What’s Next

    I am excited what comes next for AGPS!  I warmly welcome Pierre Choucroun, LPC, CGP as our new President in January! Pierre has a strong group practice, a creative clinical mind, and a deep commitment to group therapy. He brings fresh eyes and ideas along with patience in his leadership to the Board. His value for increasing awareness and access to great group therapy training here in Austin will continue our growth. 

    Join me in welcoming the following members to our Board of Directors. They have been recommended by the Nominating committee and officially elected by our membership.

    • Treasurer: Steve Cheney, MA, LPC

    • Member-at-Large: Monrovia Van Hoose, LCSW (Institutes Chair)

    • Member-at-Large: Donna Rich, LCSW (Events Co-Chair)

    • Member-at-Large: Allen Lambert, LCSW, CGP (Events Co-Chair)

    • Member-at-Large: Dana Reichman, LMSW (Development Chair) 

    Continuing on the Board:

    • President: Pierre Choucroun, PhD, LPC, CGP

    • Past-President: Scott Phillips, LMFT, CGP

    • Secretary: Courtney Stollon, LCSW, LCDC

    • Member-at-Large: Patty Olwell, MA, LPC, CGP (Marketing Chair)

    • Member-at-Large: Stacy Spencer, LCSW-S (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Chair)

    With Appreciation

    As I transition into an advisory role as Past-President, I’m acutely aware of the contributions of our Board members and leaders that made these challenging past two years a success. Send them a message or say thank you when you connect with them again. 

    Rolling off the Board:

    • Treasurer: Rhea Pledger, LPC, CGP (2020-2021)

    • Member-at-Large: Kayle Evans, LCSW-S, LCDC (Programming Chair, 2018-2021)

    • Member-at-Large: Charles Couchman, PhD (Institutes Chair, Editing Chair, 2018-2021)

    • Member-at-Large: Kristen Wicke, LPC, CGP (Development Chair, 2020-2021)

    • Member-at-Large: Bree McDaniel, LCSW (Membership Chair, 2020-2021)

    Special thanks for the work of Annual Conference Chair   Laura Ebady & Committee members Aaron Bandy, Courtney Stollon, & Michael O’Donnell for facilitating a powerful learning experience   Katherine Barnhill has done an outstanding job as CEU Chair. Our Nominating Committee Chair  Anna Graybeal  & committee members  Lavanya Shankar   and  Jason Sugg have done wonderful work identifying our next leaders.

    Our leadership is consistently made stronger with fresh perspectives and diverse interests - consider enriching your group community by serving on a committee, a project, or the Board! Committees and projects offer a great way to get to know other leaders or for long time members to get reconnected and to give back. We continue to look for a good fit to fill our Membership chair for the coming year - reach out to Pierre Choucroun with any recommendations or interest (

    We hope to see you on Friday January 14, 2022 at our AGPS Annual Business Meeting and Small Group Breakouts “Returning to the office?: Practical, Ethical, and Emotional Considerations”. 

    All the best - and Happy Holidays!

    Scott Phillips, LMFT, CGP

    Austin Group Psychotherapy Society

  • Friday, June 04, 2021 12:36 PM | Anonymous

    Many thanks to Rachel Burgreen, LCSW-S for her presentation on “Radically Open DBT and Disorders of Overcontrol”. Attendees reported the training was wonderfully informative and useful - providing a lot about the subject matter. We appreciated Rachel’s warm and accessible presenting style.

    Find the presentation slides below:

    Radically Open DBT and Disorders of Overcontrol with Rachel Burgreen.pdf

    RODBT Handout 16.1.pdf

  • Monday, May 24, 2021 9:00 AM | Scott Phillips

    Message from the President


    After months of hard work and dedication, we are delighted to announce the launch of our newly updated website! The address is the same (, but we hope visitors will find it more user-friendly, faster, and easier to navigate.

    The new website integrates multiple functions, including our membership platform, events registration, and groups directory. Our previous website served us for more than a decade, but was no longer working together in these areas and required frequent troubleshooting. By simplifying the complexity with one integrated system, we anticipate our board’s time and energy can be better spent engaging with people instead of technical problems. 

    All changes come with bumps in the road, but we expect you will have an improved member experience. The updated site features easily accessible online profiles with direct access to edit listings, update contact & financial information, and see records of event registrations and transactions. We also expect the update will provide improved communication regarding event experiences and membership needs. In the future, we intend to expand the ways we use News & Updates features to provide more information about what’s going on behind the scenes and increase involvement with the community we serve. 

    I would like to specifically thank my fellow website committee members, Gianna Viola and Patty Olwell, for the donation of their time and energy, and our web developer, Mindy Morgan-Avita, who has been a responsive and helpful partner for us. We wholeheartedly recommend her work!


    Scott Phillips
    President - Austin Group Psychotherapy Society

    Suggestions for AGPS Members:

  • Thursday, August 01, 2019 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Pam Greenstone, MA, LPC interviews Yoon Im Kane LCSW, CIFST, CGP for our Annual Conference "The Integrated Group Leader: Mindful Leadership Using Internal Family Systems and Modern Group Therapy"

    Watch on YouTube:

  • Friday, April 19, 2019 10:27 AM | Anonymous

    AGPS is eagerly anticipating our Spring Workshop titled Our Emotional Resistance to Climate Change. The workshop will be presented by Anna Graybeal, a longtime AGPS member, a past board member, and a climate activist. I enjoyed sitting down with Anna recently to discuss her passion for this topic and her plans for the workshop.

    Gianna: Would you say a few words about your professional history and your current therapy practice?

    Anna: Before becoming a psychologist, I spent 10 years as a biologist: I got a PhD in evolutionary biology, moved to Austin for a postdoc in zoology, and briefly held a curatorship at the Field Museum in Chicago. I have a great love for animals, and my training helped me understand the history and diversity of life on this planet and gave me a deep appreciation for the interconnectedness of its ecosystems.

    During my job in Chicago, I faced the realization that I really wanted to be a psychologist. Although I am happy to talk more about my reasons, for now I’ll just say that the basic story is more about my unconsciously resisting this choice for years, rather than that I was suddenly changing my mind about my interests.  

    I got a second PhD (not necessarily a path I’d recommend, but not one I regret either!) in psychology, and now work in private practice with individuals, couples and groups. One of the best things I did was to join a training group early on; this group has been my bedrock–the home base where I have developed as a therapist and as a person. Partly because of it, I have become more and more passionate about group over time, starting a group in my practice 7 years ago and more recently starting a co-led group with Rhea Pledger.

    Gianna: Can you talk about the history of your engagement with the issue of climate change and any ways in which it dovetails with your work as a therapist?

    Anna: I first learned about global warming during biology grad school, although back then it seemed like a distant problem. I began to feel more anxious about it in the early 2000s, especially with the birth of my first child and the release of the film An Inconvenient Truth in 2004.

    That anxiety continued to build, and then in 2011 or so, I read Bill McKibben’s Eaarth. I was horrified by his depiction of the changes already underway, and I recall phoning my brother and literally bawling on the phone with him, saying “why isn’t every headline in every newspaper about this?!” A friend of mine suggested I volunteer on the issue, arguing that perhaps taking some kind of action would help with my anxiety. I found a wonderful organization, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, and learned that they were eager to start a chapter in Austin. Another friend agreed to help, and together we founded the Austin CCL chapter in 2012. By 2017 we had enough regular members that we were able to subdivide into 5 local chapters, organized by congressional district.

    So far, I have not actually seen a lot of overlap between this work and my work with clients. Most of my clients rarely mention climate change. I do think this will change fairly quickly, however, in all of our practices. Also, I have seen how my therapist training helps me be a more effective climate change leader and activist. For example, I am skilled at leading lobbying meetings on Capitol Hill because I know how to invite dialogue and allow for differences, which allows for the development of mutual respect and deepening understanding.

    Gianna: What suggestions do you have about how we as therapists can better serve our clients and our world around this issue of climate change?  

    Anna: I believe that we are ALL feeling the underlying anxiety about our world being out of balance, and that we would all benefit, individually and collectively, if we were putting words to those feelings. And what better place to do that than in therapy? Accordingly, I believe that therapists themselves need to do their own work to put their feelings into words, so that they are positioned to help their clients talk about their feelings as well.

    I also believe that the principles of group therapy are powerful aids to moving us forward together as we confront the changes and the decisions ahead. As a society, we collude with each other to avoid difficult feelings, and we scapegoat and marginalize those who threaten our perceived interests. As group therapists, we are ideally positioned to recognize such processes and to help our society navigate them.

    Gianna: In your view, how does resistance play into our relationship with climate change, speaking to your own struggles and/or what you’ve witnessed in others?

    Anna: I think resistance is probably the most important aspect of our relationship with climate change. The feelings it induces are impossible to stay with for long. The terror, the impotence, the frustration, the guilt…if one is really opening up to feeling at the level the problem deserves, the emotions can become overwhelming very quickly.

    I believe that this is now the principle reason for our collective inaction. Climate change is no longer a scientific problem: the evidence for it is overwhelming. It is no longer even a technological problem: we know what to do and we have all the capability needed. It is instead, fundamentally, a psychological problem: in the near term it feels easier and more comfortable NOT to think about it, and it seems like we can get away with that. But if we are to avoid catastrophic outcomes in the future, we actually have to take action as soon and as powerfully as we can.

    Gianna: For those who might be on the fence about attending, what would you like them to know about your upcoming workshop?

    Anna: I want them to know that I do not want or intend to push anyone to feel anything they don’t want to feel (and that includes guilt!). I want this to be a space where we can gently begin to consider what we might be thinking and feeling and–even more importantly–why we might not want to feel or think such things, and how we might work to avoid.

    Gianna:Thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation with me, Anna. I am grateful for your leadership on this issue, and it’s a great gift to our community that you’re offering this workshop to invite us to explore our feelings and possible roles in confronting climate change.

    Anna Graybeal, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice, working with individuals, couples and groups.

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 10:00 AM | Anonymous

    Find a link to the slides from the 2017 Annual Conference:

    AGPS AnConf 2017 Leszcz - PowerPoint.pdf

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