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National Group Psychotherapy Institute

Times of Crisis: Groups in the Aftermath of Communal Trauma

Kavita Avula, PsyD, program chair

Sept. 28-29, 2018, 9:30AM-6:30PM

(Check-in and continental breakfast, 9-9:30)

Fee and Continuing Education Credit Hours

$360 flat fee


The widely publicized debate over critical incident debriefing over the last few decades has lamentably resulted in instilling fear, doubt, and suspicion in mental health practitioners when it comes to offering groups after an emergency. The transitional state after being exposed to a mass trauma or disaster in which individuals first begin to process their experiences is indeed a critical period in which unskillful care can cause harm;  however, to provide nothing can result in survivors feeling left, uncared for, and abandoned.  This conference, via didactic and experiential learning, will explore ways in which the group therapist can provide thoughtful, trauma-informed care that avoids creating a secondary wound in already suffering societies throughout our world.  The role of psychological first aid and taking a longitudinal approach by providing a continuum of psychological interventions to meet changing needs over time and based on the unfolding phase of recovery will be explored as they relate to promoting community healing and resilience.  Finally, a group demonstrating how to approach working with especially contentious groups – or warring tribes – will offer an alternative to the group process style most commonly used.


  1. List the phases of emergency response work.
  2. Describe compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma.
  3. Identify the types groups that may be offered after an emergency.
  4. Distinguish between effective and harmful group interventions offered after an emergency
  5. Prepare to promote healing in suffering populations by restoring a sense of safety, trust, and stability.
  6. Discuss how to support individuals with varying levels of acute trauma response in a group.
  7. Compare group responses to various emergency response situations.
  8. Create a self-care and self-monitoring plan for the trauma therapist who is vulnerable to compassion fatigue and secondary trauma.


Program Chair

Dr. Kavita Avula is an international psychologist, founder of Therapist Beyond Borders, and Lead Consulting Psychologist of The KonTerra Group.  She consults widely to humanitarian aid organizations on enhancing staff care and resilience among employees who are exposed to high stress work and operate in some of the toughest circumstances worldwide.  In addition to working to create a healthy work culture, Dr. Avula has consulted to organizations in the aftermath of critical incidents or mass trauma such as natural disasters, bombings, attacks, kidnappings, and unexpected death.   She believes in the therapeutic power of groups to facilitate healing after emergencies and will illustrate how to approach such endeavors thoughtfully and skillfully.  Dr. Avula has effectively lead groups in Palestine, Kenya, the Philippines, Mexico City, Ukraine, Uganda and Tanzania.  More recently, she has conducted groups composed of the warring tribes of South Sudan.




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 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.