When I was new to NCGPS, a colleague recommended a few therapists to experience at the yearly Institutes and Conferences. On the short list were Elaine Cooper, MSW and Geri Alpert, PhD. This June, I finally took the opportunity to be in their co-led group.

Participants are required to have at least 10 years’ group leader experience and the challenge was appropriate. Because trainings at NCGPS create shared histories, it’s not unusual to have unfinished business in the room at an Institute. That came up almost immediately in our group. The tension was handled deftly by Elaine and Geri, who helped us explore the effect of outside information seeping into present group interaction. As a well-developed team, they worked in tandem to negotiate challenging exchanges and keep us on track with firm but gentle reminders of what would be most helpful.

During the 2 days, each of us was invited to do some personal work. The group worked well to share the allotted time and include everyone. I felt challenged, as well as cared-for and acknowledged. Having been in another ongoing group as a participant, I was able to expand on the work I had done previously.

The format was instructive, including some didactic discussion. Geri and Elaine asked us specific questions about the group process, then answered our questions and elaborated. I watched them openly consult with each other during group, while also seamlessly sharing the facilitator role. I was impressed by their intuitive collaboration and curious about their journey to get to this point.

It was hard work — to both participate and attend to the process — and a stimulating learning experience. I went away with some specific take-aways to use as a facilitator, as well. If you want to know more, sign up for a weekend with them! And perhaps I’ll see you there; I certainly look forward to my next experience with Elaine and Geri.

Deborah Dowse Runyeon, MFT, CGP has been facilitating groups in her Redwood City private practice for over ten years and currently offers three different groups.

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