From China With Love

Jeffrey Kleinberg, PhD, CGP, FAGPA, President-Elect

This article first appeared in the Fall 2009 Issue of The Group Circle  

I have just returned from China, where I taught a workshop on group psychotherapy at the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. I wanted to share my experience with you as AGPA continues to promote international cooperation within its community outreach mission. This live training was the culmination of a two-part series of trauma skills and basic group psychotherapy programs delivered over the Internet through Skype. Our colleagues—Suzanne Phillips, PsyD, ABPP, CGP, FAGPA, Robert Klein, PhD, ABPP, CGP, DFAGPA—and staff—Diane Feirman, CAE, Public Affairs Director and Marsha Block, CAE, CFRE, CEO—along with others have constructed a very successful global initiative. (AGPA has also provided training over the Internet to colleagues in India after the terror attacks on hotels, and in person at the International Group Psychotherapy Meeting in Rome to colleagues dealing with the aftermath of Italy’s disastrous earthquake.)

I was in China for 10 days, accompanied always from Beijing to Chengdu, by Chinese friends and colleagues in the mental health field, all of whom have become a part of our group as a result of the significant organizational outreach that was made in the aftermath of the earthquakes in China to provide support and help to professionals and the public. Everyone was excited about group psychotherapy coming to China and extremely appreciative of AGPA’s continual efforts to reach out.

Before the workshop began, I traveled to the earthquake zone with my new friend, a psychologist, Jiang, whom many of you met last year at AGPA’s Annual Meeting in Chicago. We visited with survivors and discussed their hopes for the future. A moving and inspiring experience!

The China training was very well received by a class of very talented and eager therapists. Six distinguished professors of psychology from major universities actively participated. A two-day didactic phase was followed by a two-day process group. A wonderful friend and AGPA colleague—Emily Zeng, PsyD (also a connection made through the post-earthquake efforts)—was my highly attuned translator.

Jiang and his colleagues are looking forward to next year for a more extensive AGPA training effort. We will begin the planning process shortly. (The search for funding is already underway; please let me ([email protected]) know of any leads you may have. AGPA would like to be able to meet our expenses.)

Following is Jiang’s e-mail to me, sent shortly after the training concluded. (The Group Circle

is publishing the letter as he sent it, with his permission.) I share his sentiments. I was proud to be AGPA’s goodwill ambassador!

Dear Jeff and all of friends:
How are you, Jeff? I do know you have been in NY now. How about your feeling?
I am still in the excitement and happiness.

You gave us so amazing experience. That really is valuable gift from you and AGPA.
I do want to look back all of these wonderful experience and share them with all of you.
The first several days, I was so glad to travel with you. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, a lot of special lanes of Beijing. In Sichuan, we went to the Dujiang Yan Dam and Panda Zoo. Everyday, we traveled and discussed about the history, culture and group therapy. Everything was so wonderful.

Especially, I want to share all of you about the training and experiencing the group. The first two days is about strategy for a group. The last two days is experiencing dynamics process group.

This time, there are 26 professionals who took part in it. One third of them are very professional, experienced and influential in China. For example, Professor Hou, one psychologist worked in the psychology department of Beijing Normal University which are one of the best psychology department in China. At the beginning, she hesitated to take part in or not, however, on the end, she said she felt lucky to make a decision to come here. She has a wonderful experience. At the same time, she did make friends with other professionals, including Jeff.

Professor Wu, she was one of the most influential in the field of psychotherapy in Shandong Province. After the training, she said she made a new decision for her left life to develop group therapy with us. She was so touched by all of these.
Professor Chen, Professor Kong, Professor Huang, these three of psychologist. They are in charge of  the training and supervision of psychotherapy in Sichuan Province. They said they can not believe that they experience all of these wonderful trip in these four days.  
There are other very wonderful, nice people.

Although I have not clean up all of the feedback about this conference, I have seen that 100 percent people think they achieved the goals of this conference, and 100 percent people really enjoyed this conference. Everyone said this is so amazing experience. They never enjoyed an experience like this. Everyone said they never felt they are so close to each other like this.

Jeff, do you still remember all of the happy tears on the end of the conference. This time, I really realized and understood that some time tear is from the happiness, excitement and friendship. I was really touched by all of these.

Everyone talked a lot about the development of the group therapy in China, the cooperation between AGPA and Chinese professionals, how to develop the friendship between America and China, how to exchange the group therapy in different culture. 

Everyone want to keep a long-term communication with AGPA for the friendship and exchange. Everyone hoped AGPA can give more support in the training and supervision because group therapy in China is new, and it need more help and attention. Everyone expected that more American therapist can come to China.

On the end, we gave an American style party. People were drinking and talking and do not want to leave.

On the end of this conference, I shared in the group that I can not find enough words to express my feelings. Now, it is the same. So many things happened. So touched, so nice. I can not describe it enough. So regretful.

Later, when I clean up all of the feedback, I will say more about that.

Jeff, thank you very very very much for all of these. Just as I shared in the group, you are the gift from the God for us.

All of dearest friends, welcome to China, for the friendship, for the exchange, for so wonderful experience, I do believe we also will have different, wonderful experience.

Respected, Jiang  
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