Contributed by Travis Courville, LCSW, CGP, FAGPA
In September 2012, AGPA signed a contract with the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston, Texas to provide group psychotherapy training and consultation. The contract included 15 hours of the Principles of Group Psychotherapy course, financial assistance and coordination of Certified Group Psychotherapy (CGP) applications for qualified VA staff, and on-going consultation/supervision for staff requiring additional hours to meet the CGP supervision requirement.
Under the leadership and coordination of Diane Feirman, CAE, Public Affairs Director of AGPA, the 15-hour Principles course began in October 2012 and ended in November 2012 with 32 VA staff (mostly staff assigned to the VA Homeless Program) participating. The faculty were AGPA and HGPS members Aaron Fink, MD, CGP, FAGPA, Cindy Hearne, PhD, CGP, Jana Rosenbaum, LCSW, CGP, Travis Courville, LCSW, CGP, FAGPA, and Richard Newman, LPC, CGP.
The training was a huge success. Many of the participants were appreciative, interested in both AGPA and HGPS, excited about AGPA and HGPS meetings in 2013, and looking forward to CGP designation in the future if they qualified. Their evaluations reflected the relevance of the training for their group work with Veterans and gave high ratings for all parts of the program, especially the small experiential process groups.
VA management expressed a strong desire to have VA group therapists, especially those providing treatment for homeless Veterans, credentialed as CGP to assure the highest standard of excellence in group psychotherapy services. They are also interested in increasing the number of groups provided to Veterans. To help the agency meet this commitment, Jeanne Pasternak, LCSW, CGP, FAGPA, HGPS member and board member of the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists, will mentor staff in meeting the qualifications of the CGP and eventually completing the application.
The ongoing group consultation sessions will start in the early part of 2013.
This contract will serve as a prototype agreement for AGPA and other organizations, especially other VA facilities.