Group Psychotherapy as a Specialty: An Inconvenient Truth.

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Group psychology and group psychotherapy (GPGP) are distinctive, effective practices that meet an important need. In 2018, the American Psychological Association recognized GPGP as a specialty, thus setting standards for education and training in the field. Although there is a need for high-quality group psychotherapy, practitioners often lack standardized training, thus posing a risk to patients. Adoption of these standards by practice settings and training programs is essential for expanding the availability of quality group therapy. An understanding of how the specialty became recognized and of the specific criteria for its practice (i.e., public need, diversity, distinctiveness, advanced scientific and theoretical preparation, structures and models of education and training, effectiveness, quality improvement, guidelines for delivery, and provider identification and evaluation) are essential for expanding the availability of high-quality group psychotherapy. Such understanding also informs how training programs can align with standards. This article provides a foundation of understanding and details implications of group psychotherapy’s establishment as a specialty. The benefits of high-quality group psychotherapy are far-reaching, whereas the risks of inadequate practice loom large.

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Authors: Martyn Whittingham, Noelle L Lefforge, Cheri Marmarosh