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Nicole Mikanik

The Positive Clinical Consultation Group

Nicole Mikanik

This past March, IPPA’s positive clinical psychology division saw the first pilot for its virtual peer consultation group. Led by Jennifer Brownstein, Psy.D., Margarita Tarragona, Ph.D., and Tayyab Rashid, Ph.D., the group provides a platform through which practitioners can discuss and share how they use positive psychology with their clients. The consultation group meets for one hour each month over the course of six months.

“As a practitioner, it’s very important to have a community,” says Margarita Tarragona. “Not everyone shares the perspective of looking at the whole person and at strengths, so being part of a community [like this] can make it feel less isolating,” adds Jennifer Brownstein. Informed by the American Psychological Association (APA)’s ethical code, the group aims to provide a supportive, safe environment that inspires collaboration and innovation. A positive psychological approach underlies the process of the group, with a focus on members’ strengths and the encouragement to share both successes and challenges.

The group aims to contribute to the field of positive psychology in three main ways: (1) by providing a sense of community for practitioners who are interested in bringing positive psychology into their work; (2) by strengthening the theoretical and empirical understanding of how one can use positive psychology in one’s work; and (3) by giving shape to an emerging field.

“[Positive psychology] is more than just interventions; it’s a philosophy about life and about therapy. It’s a way of asking questions; a way of putting positive psychology findings on the table for therapeutic conversation,” says Dr. Tarragona.

A common challenge practitioners face when applying positive psychology to clinical settings is translating theory into practice. Having a platform to share ideas and learn from one another can help to mitigate some of this difficulty.

For those looking to start a similar group, these leaders cite the necessity of making sure people have the right credentials and are licensed to practice in their jurisdiction; abiding by professional ethical guidelines; and creating a trusting, safe environment. “There is a certain vulnerability about sharing your work,” says Dr. Tarragona. “This is something that should be honored.” It is also important to make clear what the group is (a place where peers and colleagues can talk about their work, get ideas, and share resources), and what it is not (not group therapy for participants nor supervision).

Dr. Brownstein hopes that this work will propel the formation of in-person positive clinical psychology peer consultation groups, and communities within different cities. With the continued emergence of positive clinical psychology comes the increasing significance of bringing theory into practice. “The field is moving in this direction, and we’re moving with the direction of the field.”

Participants from the first two groups have had very positive feedback: “I feel myself refueled a few days after attending this meeting. Fresh energy,” and “[This is a] place I can share my vulnerabilities.”

There are plans to continue the Positive Clinical Consultation Group in the future. Stay tuned!

For more information about the group, please see the website: http://www.ippanetwork.org/divisions/clinical/positive-clinical-peer-consultation-group/

Note: A version similar to this article was originally published in the IPPA’s April Monthly News Roundup.