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History of The Group List
History of The Group List

The Group List began out of a need I recognized in my own practice. I am a
licensed psychologist and certified group therapist. I have been in practice
20 years. I recognize the value for group therapy and will refer my patients
for group work quite readily. Group therapy is one of several psychological
treatment modalities available. Mainly individual, family, and couples therapy
are the others. But group therapy is often the treatment of choice for
certain types of problems.

The process of making a referral, however, was a cumbersome task.
Prospective group clients can find it quite difficult to locate an appropriate
therapy group. It is equally hard for clinicians to find and refer out to a
well-selected therapy group. It is just as hard for group therapists to
advertise adequately to their prospective referrers, clients, and colleagues.
Typically for a clinician to find a group, they must place several phone calls
or send several e-mails out to colleagues in the community, wait and collect
the replies--most of which are suggestions for whom to call--then make a
second or third round of additional inquiries to the suggested leads before
finding those professionals offering the right type of group. This is
time-consuming, redundant, and random.

I had collected notes on about 50 therapy groups in my local area. Others
started to request copies of my list. I have done a lot of reading on business
and marketing, given workshops to therapists in my office periodically on the
subject of marketing a practice, and have had a trickle of newly licensed
clinicians come to me for marketing coaching, so it occurred to me that if
some wanted this list, then others might as well. The Group List began with
this basic idea.

So in 2003, I began to more formally publish a directory of licensed mental
health professionals who actively facilitate outpatient groups or are
attempting to start a group (via a waiting list) anywhere in Los Angeles
county.

Certainly regional, national, and worldwide networks of group therapists
exist, such as the American Group Psychotherapy Association, of which I am
a member. However, this type of network is really for professional discourse,
exchange of ideas, scholarly review, continuing education, and training
purposes. These organizations don't usually keep useful lists of active
therapy groups that are available in a local area.

A directory of therapy groups is necessary because one cannot usually find
therapy groups in the yellow pages or even through local professional
associations. There are close approximations, such as the Psychology Today
website, but while it does yield actual client referrals for therapists and
allows therapists a vehicle for listing up to three therapy groups, it is limited
and hard to use when looking for therapy groups.

People look for group therapy like they look for individual therapy, on a local
level--although I do think prospective group clients are apt to be more willing
to travel a somewhat greater distance in order to find a highly focused or
unique topical group, such as a group for young adults with Aspergers, or for
gay and lesbian adoptive parents, or for therapists who want to join a group
themselves, for example.

An inherent problem with compiling a list of groups is that groups are
changing all the time. Groups may start as a waiting list, some may flourish,
some may become full, some decline and end. So keeping a list current,
unlike other types of professional directories, requires a rather constant
updating of the information. Group List updates are published about three
times a year--when the number of changes is sufficiently large to warrant a
new edition.

Assembling such a list of therapy groups requires a lot of time and effort. I've
been asked why I do this; what's "in it" for me. Building a private practice
requires a lot of time and effort. Marketing a practice involves creating
professional visibility for oneself. Offering a valuable resource to the
community is just a method of "enlightened self-interest." Mark Twain said,
"Always do right; it will gratify some and astonish the rest." If I didn't spend
my marketing time this way, I would put my time into some other outreach
vehicle. Some people go to a lot of "lunch" with their colleagues. Some
people volunteer with the Red Cross. This project is a part of what I do.

This directory is offered without charge. If a fee were involved, then this fee
would automatically create a barrier to the directory being truly
comprehensive. Some would pay, others would decline to participate. There
are two associations in Los Angeles for group therapists, Los Angeles Group
Psychotherapy Society and Group Psychotherapy Association of Southern
California. Each has been around for over 50 years. They are just now
recombining into one organization. Each has a membership, a directory,
meetings, continuing education, a website, etc. Each has a list of therapy
groups that is a fraction of the size of The Group List. I believe the basic
reason is that membership dues creates this threshold that stops many
therapists from joining. Since The Group List has no such barrier, no one has
a reason not to list their groups. Hence The Group List can be inclusive and
therefore totally comprehensive. This inclusiveness and comprehensiveness
creates a powerful advantage as a community resource.

So I began to seriously build the list, contacted everyone in the two local
group therapy organizations, and reviewed various other directories. A few
sets of broadcast e-mail, letters, phone calls, and post card mailings
augmented the search. The response was almost uniformly positive. Every
time I hear of someone who might be offering a group, I investigate. I don't
let therapists add to the list through an automated system, because too
many tend to ignore instructions, omit important information, try to get in
when they don't offer groups, etc.

I place a disclaimer in the directory that says I do not check credentials, but
I do try to make sure I have a license number listed for everyone.
Prelicensed people must advertise under the name and license of their
supervisor. I think credentialing is a problematic task, fraught with liability
issues, so this is outside the pervue of the list.

Los Angeles county has about 25,000 mental health professionals in it. It is a
manageable catchment area. Anything bigger would have to be a venture
that would require time and monetary outlay akin to some of the other paid
internet directories. My passion is doing clinical work; this directory is just a
means to assist. I also publish other directories for the local
area--psychologists who offer testing and child psychiatrists--and help with
a directory of clinicians in my own practice area of
Burbank/Glendale/Pasadena. Each of these is designed to reach other
marketing segments and optimal referrers.

My intent is to circulate The Group List to the community as widely as
possible for purposes of effective cross-referral. The list is mailed out
periodically to the professional mental health community. The directory has
drawn the attention of search engines Google, Yahoo!, Hotbot, Lycos, FAST
Search, AOLSearch, AltaVista, Netscape Netcenter, Teoma, and Copernic. It
has received over 20,000 hits since I began.

I hope this latest edition of The Group List will be of value to you.

James J. De Santis, Ph.D., C.G.P., Editor, The Group List





The Group List
Los Angeles Outpatient Group Therapy Directory
James J. De Santis, Ph.D., C.G.P., Editor
138 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 300, Glendale, California 91203-4618
112 West Bennett Avenue, Suite 4, Glendora, California 91741
(818) 551-1714 JJDeSantis@aol.com

Copyright 2009, James J. De Santis, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

James J. De Santis, Ph.D., C.G.P.
Certified Group Psychotherapist
Clinical Psychologist
Editor