The American Group Psychotherapy Association is a professional association dedicated to the field of group psychotherapy. In light of the recent entry restrictions applied to seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen) as well as a worsening climate for immigrants and refugees the organization wishes to make the following statement.

As an organization dedicated to disseminating knowledge of group psychotherapy principles, and with part of its mission being the provision of interventions and outreach to diverse communities nationally and internationally, AGPA draws upon those principles at the core of its organization to respond with alarm and humanitarian concern.

The group principles that define the American Group Psychotherapy Association include promoting dynamics of belonging, protecting the scapegoated, healing the wounds of exclusion, facilitating constructive dialogue, and maintaining physically/emotionally safe environments.  These principles apply for all regardless of nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or cultural background.  Exercising these principles fosters groups that support healthy communities, reduced conflict/violence and basic human connection.

Clinical and organizational work demonstrates the power of groups to make a difference and foster healing.  Community groups, families and individuals are currently suffering from acute stress layered on top of chronic stressors due to xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-refugee sentiments.  From a humanitarian and caregiver perspective, these people deserve relief from their collective suffering.  As promoters of group principles, it bears repeating that AGPA wishes to encourage actions that promote dynamics of belonging, protect the scapegoated, heal the wounds of exclusion, facilitate constructive dialogue, and maintain physically/emotionally safe environments, while also recognizing the need for protecting the safety of the country. We wish to encourage dialogue among those with differing viewpoints so that keeping our country safe can be accomplished in a rational and constitutional manner that preserves the rights and dignity of all.

As a community of professionals, we take pride in the diversity of our membership and welcome a broad spectrum of clinicians from a variety of racial, ethnic, and national backgrounds.  We also acknowledge a range of opinions among our members, and hold those with the knowledge that communities thrive through a balance of common core beliefs and individual differences.  We offer our support to members of the national community who have been marginalized.  Please know you have many standing behind you and with you.

You can also access additional trauma information on the AGPA website at http://www.agpa.org/home/developing-healthy-communities/group-interventions-for-trauma.

This statement was developed by the AGPA Community Outreach Task Force, Chaired by Craig Haen and Suzanne Phillips, which is charged with establishing and executing community outreach programs to provide professional assistance to diverse group populations in the aftermath of traumatic events, in collaboration with AGPA Member Siddharth Shah and the AGPA Racial and Ethnic Diversity SIG, co-chaired by Helen Chong, LaTasha Smith, and Karen Cone-Uemura.

Community Outreach Task Force Co-Chairs
Craig Haen, Ph.D., RDT, LCAT, CGP, FAGPA
CraigHaen@gmail.com

Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP, CGP, FAGPA
suephil@optonline.net


Racial and Ethnic Diversity SIG Co-Chairs:
Helen Chong, LCSW, CGP
hchong.therapy@gmail.com

LaTasha Smith, MSW
smithlatasha14@gmail.com

Karen Cone-Uemura, Ph.D., CGP
kcone-uemura@sa.utah.edu

Siddharth Ashvin Shah, M.D., M.P.H.
Greenleaf Integrative Strategies
drshah@greenleaf-is.com

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