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NSGP Foundation Announces Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

The NSGP Foundation board is pleased to announce the 3rd annual Lifetime Achievement Award recipients. These awards are presented to those scholars and clinicians who have made significant contributions to the field of group psychotherapy. These highly regarded clinicians have devoted their professional lives to teaching, supervising, publishing books and articles, and engaging in organizational activities that benefit the group therapy community. They are committed to the principles of group work and believe that well-run groups heal. Each year we invite the winners to respond to two questions: “What drew you to group therapy?” and “What does being a group therapist mean to you?”

This year’s winners (in alphabetical order) and their responses are:

Eleanor Counselman, EdD, CGP, DLFAGPA is the immediate past president of AGPA, a past president of NSGP, and a highly respected psychologist, professor, researcher and organizational leader in the world of group therapy. She has served on the board of AGPA, the Group Foundation for Advancing Mental Health, the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists, and the NSGP Board. In addition, she has served on the faculty at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Institute for Psychotherapy, Harvard Medical School and Boston University Counseling Service. She has authored or co-authored more than 20 articles and chapters in various journals, professional publications, and books, and served on the Editorial Board of the IJGP, as Group Circle editor, and on the Affiliate Societies Assembly of AGPA.

“It was a random stroke of good luck that I was drawn to group therapy. My first job after graduate school was working at the BU Counseling Center where I was encouraged to attend a weekly seminar/supervision group on group therapy led by Norm Neiberg. I was fascinated by what I heard and began observing an ongoing group led by one of the staff. Next, I screwed up my courage to co-lead a couple of groups and finally began leading on my own. Through some of my BU colleagues, notably Scott Rutan and the late Cecil Rice, I learned about AGPA and NSGP, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I find group therapy endlessly fascinating. You can work with someone in individual treatment and then see a whole different side of that person when they are in a group. You see the relational lessons people learned in order to survive their childhoods. You provide them with a place to learn to do things differently and develop new personal narratives. What an honor to guide them in this journey! I’ve written many articles but my all-time favorite one was “Why Study Group Therapy?” because it is so clear to me that studying group therapy is really studying life. We all exist in groups.”

Norman Neiberg, PhD, DLFAGPA is a Life Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a Fellow of the Massachusetts Psychological Association. He is a past president of NSGP and member of its board of directors. Dr. Neiberg has been a highly respected teacher, clinician, and supervisor in the group therapy community for decades. He has published more than a dozen articles on group therapy and rehabilitation in correctional institutions. He has served as a consultant to many organizations including the Charles River Counseling Center, the Human Resource Center in Brookline, the Family Counseling and Guidance Centers, Harvard University, Simmons College, Boston University Counseling Service, and Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Boston. A valued supervisor and group leader, Dr. Neiberg ran the Experience Group at Beth Israel Hospital for six years and at McLean Hospital for almost 25 years.

“Two things drew me to group therapy: family conflicts I didn’t understand as a young boy, and later on an experience in a training group led by James Mann, MD during my first year of graduate school. I felt lucky to be accepted by a group of like-minded psychiatrists. As a group, we formed our own seminar and continued to nurture and train ourselves.

Being a group therapist is a major piece of my identity. Throughout my career I have had a burning desire to spread the skill and train others. I believe I have succeeded both by nurturing organizations and by helping individuals develop into the kind of human beings they want to be.”

Marsha Vannicelli, PhD, CGP, FAGPA is currently Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology in the Harvard Medical School, and Attending Psychologist at McLean Hospital. She has trained and supervised clinical staff at many agencies in the Greater Boston area including the Appleton Outpatient Clinic at McLean Hospital, Family Counseling and Guidance, the Training Program of the Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy, Boston Institute for Psychotherapies, among others, and for 20 years was on the faculty of William James College (formerly MSPP) where she taught the doctoral courses on group psychotherapy. Dr. Vannicelli has published more than 70 professional articles and two books: Group Psychotherapy with ACOAs: Treatment Techniques and Countertransference Considerations and Removing the Roadblocks: Group Psychotherapy with Substance Abusers and Family Members and has served as Editorial Reviewer for the International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and Alcoholism. She has given lectures nationally and internationally and appeared on TV more than 200 times on topics of special interest: midlife issues, women’s issues, group psychotherapy, couples treatment, the treatment of ACOAs, and the impact of alcohol abuse on the family.

“My first experience as a group leader – totally uninformed and unsupervised – was during senior year at UCLA, leading what I called ‘socialization groups’ for chronic patients in the back wards of Cammarillo State Hospital. (Though I was quite intrigued, I’d have to say I gave the experience mixed reviews). Then as an intern at McLean Hospital in 1970, I joined an ongoing psychotherapy group as a co-leader, supervised by a very picky, but truly masterful group therapist. Despite my considerable anxiety, the sense of ‘magic’ was alive from the very beginning – an excitement that is still with me as I continued doing this group and many others over the years (the original McLean group ending a few months ago, after 49 years.)

What I love about groups is watching human interaction unfold, and figuring out how best to intervene when there is so much going on. After each session I am always eager to see what the next episode will bring. While my arousal level was unquestionably greater watching every last episode of ‘24’ for enduring subtle intrigue, my groups still win.”

The NSGP Foundation Board is pleased to honor these three distinguished group therapists.

As previously announced, the NSGP Foundation Board postponed its annual garden party and gala until 2021, so these awards were given to the recipients at an online fall event on September 13, 2020.

Northeastern Society for Group Psychotherapy
P.O.Box 356 | Belmont, MA 02478

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