Special Institute Presentations

To kick off the start of AGPA Connect, AGPA offers two full-day special institute presentations on Monday, February 25, 2019 from 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM. 
Attendees have the choice to attend either "Clinical Applications of Attachment and Interpersonal Theories to Group Psychotherapy: Two Sides of the Same Coin," with Cheri Marmarosh, PhD & Martyn Whittingham, PhD, CGP, FAGPA, or "Group and Couples Approaches to Addressing Polarization in our Intimate and Civic Lives," with William Doherty, PhD.

Continuing Education for Special Institute Presentations: 6.0 credits/.6 units  

Click here to register now!

SI-1. Clinical Applications of Attachment and Interpersonal Theories to Group Psychotherapy: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Marmarosh, Cheri

Whittingham, Martyn (2)Instructors: Cheri Marmarosh, PhD & Martyn Whittingham, PhD, CGP, FAGPA

Attendees of this Special Institute will explore practical applications of the theory and research behind attachment and interpersonal theories of group work. The course will start with a review of the implications of research for contemporary attachment and interpersonal theories. Participants will then apply this learning by examining the relationships among member attachment, cohesion, and outcome. This research will then be put into practice as attendees watch a videotape demonstration group and interpret member behaviors through that lens. Group dynamics will be highlighted and particular attention paid to challenging group member behaviors. In particular, member behaviors such as over-disclosure, aggressive dominance and member coldness will be a particular focus of the day. Focused Brief Group Psychotherapy will be used as an exemplar to explore methods for managing difficult member, including inoculating members for group therapy.  A demonstration group will be run that will give illustrations of how attachment and interpersonal styles can influence group dynamics. The leaders will also discuss how their styles influence their group leadership and encourage members to self-assess the role this plays in their choices of theory and technique.  Attendees will also be asked to participate, with case examples, role plays and applications of the theory to some of the most challenging cases group therapists work with. In particular, both presenters will be focusing on the most challenging client behaviors and looking at those through the lens of these two theories and discussing proven techniques for promoting good outcomes.

Dr. Cheri Marmarosh is a full-time Associate Professor of Professional Psychology at the George Washington University and a licensed psychologist. She is an Associate Editor of Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice and on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, and Training. Dr. Marmarosh is a faculty member in the Advanced Training Program in the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. She is a Fellow of Division 29 (Psychotherapy) of the American Psychological Association. She has a private practice in Washington, DC.

Dr. Martyn Whittingham is a licensed psychologist in Ohio working as a psychotherapist, consultant and adjunct faculty.  Dr. Whittingham is President-Elect of Division 49 (Group Psychology and Group Psychotherapy) of APA; Co-Chair of AGPA’s Science to Service Task Force; and a member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy. During his time as an Associate Professor at Wright State University he founded Focused Brief Group Therapy (FBGT), an approach developed and refined in a university counseling center. Dr. Whittingham has received the Association for Specialists in Group Work's Group Practice Award (2010), the African American Women in Professional Psychology’s Faculty of the Year Award (Wright State University, 2013), and the Teacher of the Year Award (Wright State University, 2014).

Learning Objectives:

Participants will be able to:

1. Describe attachment anxiety and avoidance in group members.

2. State the different behaviors on the interpersonal circumplex that can be used to prepare group members.

3. Describe how leaders can use attachment theory to prepare anxious and avoidant members for group therapy.

4. Describe how interpersonal theory can be used to inoculate challenging group members before group starts.

5. Apply interpersonal and attachment theory to interventions that may facilitate the group process and prevent dropout.



1. Marmarosh, C.L., Markin, R., & Spiegel, E. (2013). Attachment in group psychotherapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

2. Kivlighan, D. ., Jr., Lo Coco, G., & Gullo, S. (2012). Attachment anxiety and avoidance and perceptions of group climate: An actor-partner interdependence analysis. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 59, 518–527. doi: 10.1037/a0030173.

3. Gallagher, M.E., Tasca, G.A., Ritchie, K., Balfour, L., & Bissada, H. (2014). Attachment anxiety moderates the relationship between growth in group cohesion and treatment outcomes in Group Psychodynamic Interpersonal Psychotherapy for women with binge eating disorder. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 18(1), 38-52.

4. Davidovitz, R., Mikulincer, M., Shaver, P.R., Izsak, R., & Popper, M. (2007). Leaders as attachment figures: Leaders attachment orientations predict leadership-related mental representations and followers performance and mental health. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93(4), 632-650.

5. Whittingham, M. (2018). Innovations in group assessment: How focused brief group therapy integrates formal measures to enhance treatment preparation, process, and outcomes. Psychotherapy, 55(2), 186-190.

6.  Whittingham, M. (2018). Attachment and interpersonal theory and group therapy: Two sides of the same coin. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 67, 276-279.


SI-2: Group and Couples Approaches to Addressing Polarization in our Intimate and Civic Lives

Doherty, William Instructor: William Doherty, PhD

This presentation will address polarization in couple relationships and in relationships of people who differ politically.  The couple focus will be on how to work with clients  in "mixed-agenda" marriages where one partner is leaning out of the relationship and the other is leaning in.  You will learn different strategies for helping your group therapy client who is either role: the one seriously considering divorce or the one who wants to prevent a divorce.  The civic focus will be on polarization between liberals and conservatives in today's society and personal relationships.  You will learn group tools being used around the country in "red/blue" workshops sponsored by Better Angels, an initiative to depolarize America.  There will be a demonstration of these tools adapted to an issue on which workshop participants differ.  

Dr. William Doherty is a Professor in the Department of Family Social Science and Director of the Citizen Professional Center at the University of Minnesota.  He has developed a model of grass roots organizing among parents and other citizens around cultural, community, and health issues. These projects have ranged from the cultural discontents of middle class families (like overscheduled kids) to challenges of urban single fathers, from medical overuse to the effects of war and trauma on African immigrant communities. Dr. Doherty is also a marriage and family therapist, and among his awards is the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Family Therapy Academy. Following the 2016 Presidential election, he co-founded Better Angels, a citizen initiative to counteract political polarization and restore the fraying social fabric in American society. His current work also includes the Police and Black Men Project in Minneapolis, which aims to create a partnership for community safety. 

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to:
1. Identify “mixed agenda” couple where one is leaning out of the relationship and the other is leaning in.
2. Discuss strategies for helping group therapy clients who are leaning in or out of their couple relationship.
3. Describe key group processes for working with politically polarized groups in communities.

1. Doherty, W. J., & Harris, S. M. (2017). Helping Couples on the Brink of Divorce. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
2. Doherty, W. (2017). Is there hope for a divided America? Tales from the Better Angels bus tour. Psychotherapy Networker, November/December, pp. 23-29, 54.
3. Mason, L. (2018). Uncivil agreement: How politics became our identity. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

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