It is hard to believe that I am halfway through my term President of DIV49, and what a journey it has been. I got started with the Society as membership chair which a great way to quickly get a sense of our organization. I remember that my first meeting was in Cincinnati during Martyn Whittingham’s presidency. I have been awestruck both then and now to be surrounded by titans of our field.

Those of us ending our terms have one last hurrah to look forward to at APA Convention (August 3-5 in Washington DC along with remote/hybrid events). Vinny Dehili, our program chair, has taken the lead on putting together a wonderful program to highlight group. For the first time, we will have an official social and a session of training process groups. We will soon be distributing the flyer to summarize all the events and we look forward to seeing many of you.

I want to take a moment to thank my fellow outgoing leaders for their service. They are David Marcus (group psychology), Eric Chen (diversity), Nathaniel Wade (psychotherapy), Shala Cole (membership chair). I know our investments will continue to benefit the Society long after we are gone. In particular, Shala Cole and Eric Chen, along with former program chair, Lisa de la Rue, founded The Institute, which is now a jewel in the crown of DIV49.     

It is much easier to leave knowing the knowledge, talent, and dedication of those who are coming in. We just finished our elections, and I am pleased to announce the following incoming/returning officers:

Additionally, we are currently in the search process for an Editor of Group Dynamics. Giorgio Tasca is ending his term after leading major advances to increase the impact factor and revenue generation of the journal. Many thanks to George for his service.

I hope to be involved with the Society long after my departure from office. I know that Francis Kaklauskas (incoming President) has a wonderful vision for us. His focus on bringing together people will keep me engaged, and I look forward to being on that journey with you all.

summer-2023- Pres-Elect Column


 He wasn’t so much interested in the individual but more the collective.  He believed in “constant creative formations”, not playing and simply moving away – but always being involved. 

Danilo Pérez on his mentor Wayne Shorter

In a recent morning meeting, I found myself captivated and haunted through a conversation with a student studying loneliness, isolation, and lack of meaningful lasting connections in our contemporary culture. Later the same day in I group I lead of mental health professionals, a newer clinician lamented having limited elders helping them in navigating their career and that it feels that no one ever extends unconditional generosity towards them.   To join their feeling, a mostly retired research psychologist lamented the increased isolation and emptiness she feels since losing their partner to covid and leaving academia.  A third group member jumped in, likely overwhelmed by their distress and thinking they were helping, and pathologized some aspects of each of their relational styles that they felt may contribute ads to their unmet needs.  Both become angry and confronted the third member who holds many dominant identities that his views may be formed from his privilege and for him “to start owning his projective bullshit.”  Members began to discuss how they each experienced external bias and sense fear from others, as well as how potentially past severely injurious experiences may have limited their current relational risk taking.  A fourth member offered a reframed that this lack of connection and fear is a too common cultural phenomena, particularly between people with identity and generational differences.  The group continued and the eventually the conversation moved away from theories to the emotional impact of varied collaborative mentorship relationship in their lives.  After the group with my own feelings still stirring, and I embarked on personal reflection, more discussions with colleagues, and a google scholar search journey on this topic.

 Mentorship has been long highlighted as a necessity in our field.  In 2006, then APA president, Gerald P. Koocher, developed a task force to increase successful mentoring with APA.   However, in the seventeen years since this initiative, many professionals confront this relational yearning.   Across discipline the research on mentorship remains positive (Cooper, 2018; Wyatt et al., 2019).  Mentees report having more satisfaction and commitment to their professions, and may earn higher performance evaluations, higher salaries, and faster career progress than non-mentored individuals.  On the other side, being a mentor has also shown increases in life satisfaction and purpose, and even increases one neuropsychological health (Inagaki et al., 2016).

            Many of us have been assigned mentors as part of our journeys in the form of advisers and supervisors.  Likely some of these matches have been positive, while others more challenging.  As we move forward in our careers, we have more choice about our mentorship relationship, but from both sides we need to have the courage to ask and offer.  No one mentor fulfill all our needs and desires, and different relationship can bring our unique parts of ourselves and of the other person.

The old hierarchy models have been replaced with a more bidirectional approach towards learning from one another and with one another (Lester et al. 2019).  Each mentor’s and mentee’s life are unique, but ideally this relationship embodies shared enthusiasm, experiential empathy, and respect and openness for all similarities and unique differences that each person brings.  For the mentor, continual encouragement and normalizing challenges is understood as essential, awhile also providing constructive comments and explorations with care and sensitivity.  For mentees, the obstacles may include risking vulnerability by asking for support and being honest above impression management with some we respect.  A mentee can expect to be offered ideas, guidance, support, and some irreverent stories. Contemporary models have moves away from the strict hierarchy towards a more collaborative exploration that can promote mutual growth within a meaningful relationship. 

Reflecting of this topic, I am grateful for my countless mentors.  Just as I as launching my career, both of parents and my older brother passed away, and the void I felt that was partially filled with these relationships.   Some connections may have only lasted a few moments, but I appreciated others extending towards me to share their ideas and experiences.  Last month, I had a sweet moment with one of my main mentors, Dr. Unger, who I have known for 33 years.  Near of the end of our time I thanked him for staying with me through the many awkward stages of my career and our relationship, from poor imitation of his style, competitive feelings, reactive criticalness, misguided ideas of which I felt certain, and the dance of intimacy across time.  

 In a heartfelt moment I said, “Thank you for sticking by me all these years, I don’t know how you did it.”  And with quick wit, humility, and compassion, the immediate response was “Back at you.”. Through our decades together I was provided support, direction, and insights, but we both also had many missteps and moments of insensitivity. As I look back on this relationship, any of the clinical and career suggestions seem far less important to me, than just our journeying together.

My hope as president-elect is foster to try to help build more mentorships into our division.  In mid-career I continue to regularly hear people express their desires to give and receive support, discuss wonderings, expand their perspectives, tell and hear personal stories, and have room for another for meaningful connection. Please consider joining the Division 49 Institute that matches clinicians of different career stages together for mentorship and on all the joys of relationship and comradery.  Please feel free to reach out to me and any member of the division for more information and to get involved with one of the most important aspects of our division.  After all, we are all group people.


Cooper, L. A. (2018). Commentary: Training and mentoring the next generation of health equity researchers: Insights from the field. Ethnicity & Disease28(4), 579.     

Cronan, T. A., Van Liew, C., Stal, J., Marr, N., Patrus, A., Mansoor, M., & Cronan, S. B. (2020). In the eye of the beholder: Students’ views of mentors in psychology. Teaching of Psychology47(1), 15.

Inagaki, T. K., Haltom, K. E. B., Suzuki, S., Jevtic, I., Hornstein, E., Bower, J. E., & Eisenberger, N. I. (2016). The neurobiology of giving versus receiving support: the role of stress-related and social reward-related neural activity. Psychosomatic medicine78(4), 443.

Lester, A. M., Goodloe, C. L., Johnson, H. E., & Deutsch, N. L. (2019). Understanding mutuality: Unpacking relational processes in youth mentoring relationships. Journal of community psychology47(1), 147-162.

Wyatt, G. E., Chin, D., Milburn, N,, Hamilton, A., Lopez S., Kim, A., Stone, J .D., Belcher,  H. M. E. (2019) Mentoring the mentors of students from diverse backgrounds for research. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2019;89(3):321.