Breakout Session Details for Virtual Group Therapy Conference May 8, 2020

Please read the details about each of the break out sessions. You will have the chance to join ONE of these for this Online Virtual Group Therapy Conference on May 8th. Many of these sessions will be offered again during our rescheduled two-day in-person conference (hopefully to be help this fall).

(1) Facing Anxiety in Starting Groups (Small Group Experiential)

Jessi Leader, LMFT

Description: Anxiety always seems to be present when starting a group. Group members feel anxious as they consider joining a group, and especially as they show up for the first session. Group leaders often feel anxious as we consider developing a group, referring a client to a group, and especially as we show up for the first group session. This anxiety can be valuable and helpful while also detrimental. In this small process experiential we will address our anxiety as group leaders, and explore ways that it is helpful and hurtful to starting, and leading, groups. We will pay particular attention to anxiety about ONLINE group work. We will also notice how our anxiety might parallel that of group members. We will practice tuning into our own anxiety in a way that helps us empathize with each other, as well as with our clients. We also hope that this session will help you “get unstuck” from any unproductive anxiety that is holding you back from starting any group(s) that you would like to run.

80% Experiential, 20% Didactic

Learning objectives

-Identify physiological indicators of your typical stress response when joining/leading a group
-Select group leader interventions designed to uncover, empathize, validate, and ultimately reduce group member anxiety
-List three ways that group member anxiety is helpful during an initial group sessions

Brief description of your theoretical approach to group leadership: Relational and multicultural 

How does your group take into consideration viewpoints from diverse populations and cultural locations?

I hold a high value in working with cultures that are outside my own. I am intentional about acknowledging my own biases and regularly challenge my worldview, considering it is only one of 7+ billion worldwide. In this group I will encourage group members to do the same, especially as we consider the complex, and diverse, ways that we can experience anxiety and attribute meaning to it. Cultural backgrounds, identities, trauma history, and other realities can greatly impact how we experience anxiety. I lead with curiosity and compassion to learn about group member’s experiences, knowing that each of you are more of an expert then I am.

Briefly describe your experience as a group leader

I am a marriage and family therapist and tend to think systemically in my family, couples, individual and group therapy work. I lead two groups in my private practice: (1) Modern Men Explore and (2) Men Process Together.

Briefly describe your experience training others to conduct group treatment

I have been the Group Coordinator at two college counseling centers and I currently provide training and co-leadership opportunities to our graduate trainees at Carleton College. I developed Group Therapy Central, LLC which provides high quality therapy groups for Minnesota residents and training groups and events for mental health clinicians (like this current conference).

Jessi’s Bio: Jessi is a relationship therapist and the founder of Moody Octopus Collective, a private practice in south Minneapolis. She supports folks who are looking to restore trust, connection and intimacy in their relationships. Jessi is passionate about working with folks experiencing disconnection, those impacted by affairs, couples and issues specific to men. She facilitates group therapy for Modern Men, as they redefine masculinity and how to show up in their relationships. For more information on her work: moodyoctopus.com.

(2) Activating and Illuminating the Here-and-now in Your ONLINE Therapy Groups (Small Group Experiential)

Nate Page, PhD, LP

Description: Irvin Yalom has continually asserted that the core of group therapy is working in the here-and-now. This experiential group will help you practice both ACTIVATING and ILLUMINATING the here-and-now in an ONLINE group setting (Yalom describes activation and illumination as the two symbiotic tiers that create therapeutic power). We will practice shifting our group attention from the “there-and-then” to the “here-and-now”, from thoughts and feelings about the past/future to those of the present, from generalities to specifics, from the unspoken to the spoken, and from the abstract to the concrete. We will also notice when we are experiencing strong cohesion as a group and explore our barriers when we are feeling disconnected, out of sync, or otherwise struggling to perform meaningful work together.

90% Experiential and 10% Didactic

Learning objectives

-Explain the components of therapeutic here-and-now activation and illumination
-Select group leader interventions to both activate and illuminate the here-and-now
-Identify your own subjective experiences, and explore those of other participants and the group-as-a-whole experiences.

Brief description of your theoretical approach to group leadership: Existential, humanistic/client-centered, and very relational. You could describe my approach to group as a mix of what Irvin Yalom and Carl Rogers might do.  

How does your group take into consideration viewpoints from diverse populations and cultural locations?

A significant piece of our here-and-now experiencing is becoming aware of the dynamics created by the conglomeration of our identities, cultural upbringings, and current social norms/expectations. We will call attention to recapitulations of power, privilege, and oppression as they arise in the group. As a group leader, I will be intentional to acknowledge my own identities, biases, and blind spots, which will hopefully model vulnerability and demonstrate openness and willingness to connect even through our differences. As a group we will endeavor to be aware of any microaggressions, unconscious biases, and implicit reactions that could cause harm and work to help the group find reparative experiences. Ideally, we will have several corrective emotional experiences of “RESTORING HOPE THROUGH CONNECTION” (the conference theme). This conference will likely be a predominantly white, cis-gendered, and heterosexual space, and I intend to name these realities and invite all involved to consider how these realities might be impacting us at the conference, and also impacting those that have the potential to join us in future conferences. I also intend to acknowledge the People whose land the University of MN sits on.

Briefly describe your experience as a group leader

I fell in love with group therapy as a graduate student and have since sought out any group therapy related experience that time and opportunity would allow. I have started and ended over 35 groups in a college counseling setting, and I have provided trainings on group therapy at various regional and national conferences. I run an ONLINE Process-oriented Training Group for Therapists, andhave also lead ONLINE support groups for therapists. I hope to soon become a Certified Group Therapist through the AGPA. 

Briefly describe your experience training others to conduct group treatment

I have been the Group Coordinator at two college counseling centers and I currently provide training and co-leadership opportunities to our graduate trainees at Carleton College. I developed Group Therapy Central, LLC which provides high quality therapy groups for Minnesota residents and training groups and events for mental health clinicians (like this current conference).

Nate’s Bio: Nate works full time at Carleton College as the Group Coordinator at the Student Health and Counseling in Northfield, MN. Nate specializes in group therapy for college students, and provides group therapy training to mental health professionals. He is the owner of Group Therapy Central LLC (grouptherapycentral.com), directs the Phoenix Project at Carleton College (https://www.facebook.com/carletonphoenixproject/), and leads recovery retreat programs for therapists suffering from burnout and compassion fatigue. Nate has witnessed the damaging impact of burnout, compassion fatigue, and moral injury among far too many mental health providers and has committed a significant portion of his professional career to helping “heal the healers” that are struggling these concerns.

(3) The First Session of a Process Group: Using Structured Activities to Prepare Clients for an Unstructured Group Therapy Experience (Small Group Experiential)

Brian Post, PhD, LP

Description: Most clients do not have experience with process groups. While it is important to educate clients about what to expect during the screening and preparation process, this intellectual knowledge is typically not accessible to our clients during the first group session due to their anxiety about starting the group. Beyond encouraging client introductions, many therapists are also unsure how to start a therapy experience that is intentionally unstructured. In my experience using structured activities that promote awareness of the here-and-now and candid interpersonal sharing sets the group up for success by giving them a lived experience that no handout or therapist monologue could teach them. 

This group experience will include a brief guided mindfulness activity, sharing of personal struggles, and a first impressions exercise. There will also be a debrief period for participants to reflect and ask questions. 

Learning objectives
-Explain the components of therapeutic here-and-now activation and illumination 

-Select interventions that aid in developing group cohesion for groups early in development

-Identify subjective experiences as a group member, and explore those of other participants and the group-as-a-whole experiences. 

Brief description of your theoretical approach to group leadership Yalom-style interpersonal process 

How does your group/workshop take into consideration viewpoints from diverse populations and cultural locations? By inviting members to discuss aspects of their identities in the here-and-now with the group. 

Briefly describe your experience as a group leaderIn graduate school I spent five years training to be a process group leader under the supervision of a certified group psychotherapist. I have been independently facilitating multiple general process groups each semester for UMN students since 2013. 

Briefly describe your experience training others to conduct group treatment. Over the past 10 years I have trained both graduate students and licensed professionals to conduct group psychotherapy.

Brian’s Bio: Brian has spent his career working in college mental health with a focus on running process groups. In graduate school he developed a passion for group therapy while managing a research lab that was housed within a group therapy clinic. He currently provides individual and group psychotherapy to University of Minnesota students at Boynton Health, and typically runs 4 process groups each semester. In addition to his training in group therapy, Brian also received post-graduate training in contemporary psychodynamic psychotherapy with an emphasis on intersubjectivity and attachment theory.

(4) Working with Silence in Group (Small Group Experiential)

Jon Lewis, PhD, LP

Description: Silence has many different meanings in the group setting, and thus evokes different memories, thoughts, and emotional states. This didactic/experiential small group experience will help group leaders not only identify and discern the different meanings behind silence, but also assist group facilitators in harnessing silence to move the group forward in its development.

80% Experiential, 20% Didactic

Learning objectives
Participants will be able to:

1. Identify the different types and meanings of silence in group work

2. Craft interventions designed to illuminate the meaning behind group silence

3. Distinguish reasons behind individual silences and group-as-a-whole silences

4. Use process to help the group make use out of prolonged or repeated silences.

Brief description of your theoretical approach to group leadership Interpersonal, group-as-a-whole 

How does your group/workshop take into consideration viewpoints from diverse populations and cultural locations? As a group leader, I value taking the time to understand individual clients’ (and the group-as-a-whole’s) cultural experiences in an open and humble manner by inviting them to discuss how our cultural differences affects cohesion and safety within the group. As group leaders, I believe it is imperative that we attend to how our demographics affect clients and patients in ways that we not only often misunderstand, but those that are often outside of our vision. Though recognizing my privileged societal status can be difficult and leave me feeling vulnerable as a group leader, only then can I reach a new level of compassion and empathy that helps me relate to my clients in a deep and authentic way. 

Briefly describe your experience as a group leader. I have conducted group psychotherapy in a wide variety of treatment settings such as inpatient units, partial hospitalization programs, and intensive outpatient programs. Although most of my group experience lies in relational-process groups, I also have experience with structured psychoeducational (e.g., DBT, ACT) groups. I continue to attend the American Group Psychotherapy Association annual meetings, part of which involved completion the AGPA Certified Group Psychotherapist certification course. 

Briefly describe your experience training others to conduct group treatment. My primary group training/supervisory experiences have been supervising pre-doctoral interns and practicum students on the theory and practice of group therapy.

Jon’s Bio: Jon Lewis is a clinical psychologist who currently facilitates groups in adult partial hospitalization program at a local hospital. His group experience spans outpatient, intensive outpatient, and inpatient treatment settings. He is an active member of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA), and regularly attends their annual national conference. He also completed AGPA’s Certified Group Psychotherapists (CGP) training program, and has a strong interest in training group therapists. His clinical interests include attachments concerns, personality pathology, and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

(5) Managing Challenging Group Situations (Workshop)

Amanda Storey, PsyD, LP

Description: Managing challenging group situations is a necessary skill for effective group leadership. This workshop will explore how to manage challenging group members as well as difficult situations. We will also address some of benefits and challenges of managing these challenges in ONLINE group work.

40% Experiential, 60% Didactic

Learning Objectives:

1. Explore effective management of challenging group members.
2. Understand the dynamics of problematic behaviors.
3. Address problematic behaviors therapeutically.

Brief description of your theoretical approach to group leadership. I have mostly facilitated skills groups such as DBT

How does your group/workshop take into consideration viewpoints from diverse populations and cultural locations? Examples and discussion points will take into consideration issues of diversity.

Briefly describe your experience as a group leader. I have facilitated groups throughout my academic training. I have been both a co-facilitator and sole group leader. I have supervised and trained professionals interested in group therapy. I have taken a DBT orientation more recently. I have facilitated groups for DBT, advanced DBT, PTSD, dual diagnosis, mindfulness, anxiety, and depression.

Briefly describe your experience training others to conduct group treatment. I co-facilitate groups with clinicians who are not experienced with group leadership. I share my knowledge and offer them opportunities to lead and learn.

Amanda’s Bio: Amanda has facilitated and co-facilitated several groups throughout her training and career. Most of her group work has been oriented within the DBT perspective. She has, however, lead groups treating PTSD in veterans, dual diagnosis, mindfulness, and anxiety. Amanda has personally observed the effectiveness of group work over individual work especially with challenging populations. These observations have prompted and fueled her passion for group psychotherapy.