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Passionate Groups: The Interplay of Envy, Competition, Shame and Intimacy

Chair: Molly Donovan, PhD

Guest presenter: Steve Van Wagoner, PhD

Friday-Saturday, April 27-28, 2018


$360 (flat fee)

Continuing Education Credit Hours:



In psychotherapy groups, members cope with vacillating experiences of inclusion and exclusion that arouse powerful feelings of attraction and identification, as well as frustration, envy, and shame. Envy, and its consequent influence on competitive and potentially destructive action is so common and pervasive that no group therapy is without their interplay. They remain part of the group dynamics/process throughout the life of the group, "entering" the group in a variety of ways, often covert. How do the group therapist, members, and the group as a whole work with them?

Through didactic and experiential learning, and the leader's containment of these powerful experiences and modeling, participants will identify and analyze various ways of constructing intimacy and competing for relatedness, and learn to identify and verbalize passionately held feelings of envy, rejection, shame, and perceived loss of power as a way of neutralizing its destructive potential.

Small Group Experience

Each participant will be assigned to a small process group of 7-10 members. These groups will be led by one or two faculty members. The goal of these groups is to integrate the didactic material presented by providing the participants with an in-vivo opportunity to experience and observe small group dynamics and processes as they unfold.

Large Group Experience 

All participants will be members of a large group experience that will convene three times over the duration of each conference. These large group meetings will be facilitated by a multi-person team of faculty consultants. The educational goals are to illuminate large group unconscious processes, identify covert and overt barriers to communication, and to recognize the influence of sociocultural and other contextual factors on a therapy group.


Participants will be able to

  • Examine the impact of passionately held feelings of envy, jealousy, and competitiveness on group cohesion,
  • Locate the hidden affects of envy, shame, and jealousy in the group.
  • Distinguish between healthy and destructive aspects of competition and their impact on group relationships.
  • Identify the shame of revealing and expressing feelings of envy and jealousy.
  • Illustrate containing envy, jealousy and competition, and transforming them into intimate interactions.
  • Compare and critique methods for containing and working through these powerful group dynamics.
  • Identify one's own pattern of approaching and avoiding intimacy in group, and the influence of envy, competition and shame.


Steve Van Wagoner, Ph.D., is a member of the NGPI faculty, and is on sabbatical until September 2018. He returns as our guest presenter with this weekend topic, one that he has been passionate about for many years. He has written about this topic and has presented workshops about it at AGPA and several other locales around the country. Dr. Van Wagoner is a Fellow of AGPA and has been in the private practice of group and individual psychotherapy in Washington, DC, for over 30 years.



Registration is now closed.

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 _12 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.