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Context and Multiculturalism: Explorations Through Large Group Experience

Friday-Saturday, Rescheduled to February 19-20, 2016, 9AM-6PM

Fees and CE/CME Award

$360 (flat fee)

12 CE/CME credits

National Group Psychotherapy Institute

Conference Co-Chairs

Leon Paparella
Mary Dluhy
Mary Ann Dubner
Hallie Lovett
Bob Schulte
Rosemary Segalla
Ayana Watkins-Northern
Jonathan Stillerman

Group therapists tend to focus on intrapsychic dynamics, interpersonal dynamics, intersubjective dynamics and group-as-a-whole dynamics. A fifth dimension is context and the ways in which contextual issues affect group treatment.

This conference is the last one of this two year cycle that is open to additional, "one-time" registrants. The final conference of the cycle in April will be limited to the attendance of the two-year Institute participants.

Core concepts:

Summary of readings for this conference

1. Metaphors (Abernathy, 2002)
“The power of metaphor arises from “their complex interweaving of affect, history, and story that unifies a multitude of compelling self-other perceptions”…Given the potential volatility of multicultural contact, a direct frontal approach to issues is not always optimal… Metaphors transform meanings: they create new perspectives, new solutions, and new opportunities for connection… Offering a metaphor is a rich and precious gift that, if appreciated and used, catalyzes group process and promotes understanding…”

2. Multiculturalism (Green & Stiers, 2002)
“…Multiculturalism has developed as a social-intellectual movement that values diversity as a core principle and insists that all individuals and cultural groups be treated with respect and as equals… Multiculturalism encourages the inclusion in our therapeutic dialogues of the broad range of significant differences (race, gender, sexual orientation, ability and disability, religion, class, etc.) that often hinder communication and understanding among people… most individuals are unaware of contextual influences and how their identities have been formed…”

3. Unconscious Normative Processes (Gump, 2010)
“… Layton (2008) proposed the construct unconscious normative processes to refer to processes that uphold and sustain the power structure extant. The norms making up these processes split human attributes and capacities hierarchically, with the dominant group attributing to itself those qualities they deem of greater value, projecting onto the non-dominant—women, those of other races and classes—less desirable attributes.”

4. Whiteness (Suchet, 2007)
“What does it mean to be white? For most people, that is a strange question for which they have no answer. Whiteness is that which is not seen and not named. It is present everywhere but absent from discussion. It is the silent norm. The invisibility of whiteness is how it maintains its natural, neutral, and hidden position. The silence is central to the power of whiteness… Whiteness is a lived experience. It is an ideology, a system of beliefs, policies and practices that enable white people to maintain social power and control…”

5. Implicit bias (Kirwan Institute, 2015)
“Implicit bias differs from suppressed thoughts that individuals may conceal for social desirability purposes. Implicit biases are activated involuntarily and beyond our awareness or intentional control. Implicit bias is concerned with unconscious cognition that influences understanding, actions, and decisions, whereas individuals who may choose not to share beliefs due to social desirability inclinations are consciously making this determination… implicit bias goes beyond stereotyping to include favorable or unfavorable evaluations toward groups of people.”

6. Micro-Aggressions (DeAngelis, 2009)
“Some racism is so subtle that neither victim nor perpetrator may entirely understand what is going on—which may be especially toxic for people of color… Micro-assaults…microinsults… micro-invalidations…”

7. Large group identity (Volkan, 2014)
“Belonging to a large group is a natural phenomenon of human life. Large groups are known as tribes; clans; ethnic, nationalistic, racial or religious entities; or believers in and followers of a political ideology since childhood. Membership in a large group is an antidote to loneliness; it provides self-esteem on an individual level and on many occasions gives people pleasure and lifts their spirits. This chapter, however, is on one of its least desirable by-products: shared prejudice against the members of another large group.”

8. Large Groups (Ettin, 2006)
“What do we (group relations consultants, conductors, analysts, therapists, facilitators, mediators, dynamicists, researchers, and other large group leaders or scholars) now know about the unwieldy character of open and closed social systems and how they maintain themselves, function, interact, conflict and change? How are we to understand large group dynamics and manage their inherent complexity, whatever the setting or purpose? Are very large groups becoming experiential abstractions that engender the depersonalization of their members? Do they exist only as social categories or virtual realities, where the interactive face-to-face presence of persons in community is no longer required? Under what, if any, circumstances do large groups operate as if they have a mind of their own?”

9. Organization-in-the-mind (Stiers & Dluhy, 2008)
“… The organization-in-the-mind is the emotional reality of the organization, registered in the minds of individuals that informs their relatedness to the organization, consciously and unconsciously… uncovering the organization-in-the-mind [brings] into view something that is “known in the emotional and physical and imaginal life of the members…that has resisted formulation” …in the dialogue between consultants and … members, an opportunity arises to bring to the surface hidden or unformulated elements of the collective life in organizations.”

10. Hermeneutics of trust (Segalla, 2014)
“Recognizing our capacity for both love and aggression as seen in both individual and group work has been a topic that has engaged me for the decades I have served as a leader on a large group team and observed many efforts by large group members to reach across barriers, attempting to connect with others in the group. These positive efforts can lead to experiences of transcendence in which group members reach a profound level of compassionate engagement with others in the large group… Understanding our inevitable embeddedness in systems that go far beyond the family group to larger groups in the culture is an essential part of the training of therapists… Moving away from a focus on projections is not to ignore that these are plentiful but is to emphasize that the human desire to be part of the tribe requires positive efforts and these efforts exist along side more negative projective forces. My emphasis on these more positive efforts at connection is also a reflection of a shift in psychoanalysis, from a hermeneutics of suspicion to a hermeneutics of trust (Orange, 2011a).”

11. Mindfulness in Large Groups (Sells, 2008)
“In the context of working with others, we use the practice of mindfulness to settle and calm the mind, to deepen our understanding and experience of our impulsive thoughts and emotions, and to guide the mind toward thoughts of curiosity and compassion for ourselves, and others… By cultivating this quality of mindfulness, we can come to a deeper understanding of our intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships as well as our social and communal relationships. Utilizing the skills and qualities of mindfulness in the large group format benefits both the group participants and the group leader as it gives each party more tools with which to function within the dynamic influences of the large group.”



Conference is full.

Cancellations and Refunds

Refunds will be made for cancellations received at the School office in writing at least 10 days before the seminar date and are subject to a non-refundable administrative fee of $50.

Who should attend?

The workshop is intended for psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, physicians, medical students, and other graduate students.


The Washington School of Psychiatry is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Washington School of Psychiatry maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

The School is approved by the Social Work Board of the State of Maryland as a provider of continuing education for social workers in DC, MD, VA and WV.

The Washington School of Psychiatry has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6388. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The Washington School of Psychiatry is solely responsible for all aspects of the program.

The School is accredited by MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The School designates each session for a maximum of _ of AMA PRA Category I Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disclosure of Commercial Support and the Unlabeled use of a commercial product. No member of the planning committee and no member of the faculty for this event have a financial interest or other relationship with any commercial product.