American Board of Group Psychology

The candidate will be able to demonstrate competency in the following Foundational and Functional Competency areas as defined below:


Assessment: Assessment and diagnosis of problems, capabilities, and issues associated with individuals, groups, and/or organizations. Group psychologists understand both individual and group-level assessments, diagnosis, and conceptualization. The essential knowledge component includes understanding of and expertise in valid and reliable group verbal analysis systems. The accompanying behavioral anchor includes ability to distinguish between process and outcome in groups and the application of one of the valid and reliable verbal analysis systems. Diagnosis in groups is based upon the essential knowledge component of nomothetic and idiographic individual measures, as well group-level measures, which allow the group leader to understand the group-as-a-whole on a diagnostic level. Behavioral anchors include expert application of diagnosis at both individual and group levels in order to conceptualize the individual group member within the group process. Finally, experts in group psychology can communicate findings in written form to other professionals (e.g., reports, evaluations, and recommendations).

Intervention: Interventions designed to alleviate suffering and to promote health and well-being of individuals, groups, and/or organizations. Group psychologists can understand essential knowledge components of group intervention. Successful candidates demonstrate this by appropriate application of the following behavioral anchors: 1) referral to groups; 2) composition of groups; 3) pre-group preparation for group members; 4) therapeutic mechanisms and factors; 5) group therapist interventions, e.g., at the individual member level, member-to-member level (dyads, triads), and group-as-a-whole level; 6) group development stages from beginning to end; 7) termination; and 8) reduction of adverse group effects.

Consultation: The ability to provide expert guidance or professional assistance in response to a client’s needs or goals. Group psychologists can share their expertise in group treatment with other professionals (e.g., educational, legal, and medical) and interdisciplinary teams (e.g., psychiatry, social work, couples, and family therapists) by offering expert consultation about group clinical application and clinical group research where appropriate. Expert group consultants increase awareness of interactions from the small group level to the large group level, as well as issues of individual/cultural/other diversities, ethics and legal foundations, and professional identification. Group psychologists possess the essential knowledge component of understanding key interactions with other agencies, settings, disciplines, and professionals. Behavioral anchors include contributing to and collaborating with multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary teams.

Supervision: Supervision and training in the professional knowledge base and of evaluation of the effectiveness of various professional activities. Group psychologists who supervise and teach group skills possess the essential knowledge components of supervisor expectations and roles, and processes and procedures of supervision. Behavioral anchors of these knowledge components include clear skill development in group trainees (e.g., group roles, norms, stages, therapeutic factors; process and content, and group-as-a-whole), and keen awareness of factors affecting supervision (e.g., countertransference, fear of exposure, and potential for dual roles) Group supervisors and teachers are able to encourage full participation in the supervisory process by modeling appropriate transparency, utilizing role-play, and encouraging students to show videos. Supervisors are up-to-date on educational and training guidelines for group skill development, which include both didactic and experiential education interventions.
Research/Evaluation: Generating research that contributes to the professional knowledge base and/or evaluates the effectiveness of various professional activities. This competency domain is for those group psychologists who engage in research and/or evaluation. Each of these can be scored independently for those who engage in one activity, but not the other. A successful candidate engages in research designed to increase evidence bases for group treatments and/or engages in professional group practice that evaluates the effectiveness of programs and activities. If applicable, the candidate’s own scholarly contributions are considered as they inform the practice of group psychology. Behavioral anchors include evidence of scholarly contributions to the group literature in refereed journals, which reflects appropriate research methods and statistical procedures to demonstrate essential knowledge of scientific method. Behavior anchors may alternatively include analysis of practice and/or program effectiveness.

Teaching: Teaching refers to providing instruction, disseminating knowledge, and evaluating acquisition of knowledge and skill in professional psychology.

Knowledge: Successful candidates demonstrate knowledge of outcome assessment of teaching effectiveness. They demonstrate knowledge of one technique of outcome assessment and of methodological considerations in assessment of teaching effectiveness.

Skills: They evaluate the effectiveness of learning/teaching strategies addressing key skill sets. They demonstrate strategies to evaluate teaching effectiveness of targeted skill sets. They articulate concepts to be taught and research/empirical support and integrate feedback to modify future teaching strategies.

Management-Administration: Manage the direct delivery of services and/or the administration of organizations, programs, or agencies in areas of professional psychology. Management: Successful candidates manage direct delivery of professional services and demonstrate awareness of basic principles of resource allocation and oversight. They regularly manage direct delivery of their own services, identifying opportunities for improvement. They recognize the role of and need for clerical and other staff, including the role of human resources in these activities.

Administration: They are aware of the principles of policy and procedures manuals of organization, programs, and agencies. Also, they are aware of basic business, financial, and fiscal management issues. They respond promptly to organizational demands. They participate in the development of policies, and function within their budget. They negotiate and collect fees and pay bills, use technology for information management, and identify resources needed to develop a basic business plan.

Leadership: They develop a mission, set goals, implement systems to accomplish goals and objectives, and build teams using motivational skills. They develop statements of mission or purpose of the direct delivery services, organization, programs, or agency. They provide others with face-to-face and written direction. They demonstrate capacity to develop a system for evaluating subordinates (supervisees, staff, and employees). They communicate appropriately to parties at all levels of the organization.

Evaluation of Management and Leadership: They develop plans for how best to manage and lead their organization. They articulate steps and actions to be an effective manager or leader appropriate to the specifics of the organization.

Advocacy: Advocacy relates to actions targeting the impact of social, political, economic, or cultural factors to promote change at the individual (client), institutional, and system level.

Empowerment: Successful candidates intervene with clients to promote action on factors impacting their development and functioning. They promote client self-advocacy.
Systems Change: They promote change at the level of institutions, community, or society. They develop alliances with relevant individuals and groups and engage with groups with differing viewpoints around an issue to promote change.


Scientific Knowledge and Methods: Understanding of research, research methodology, techniques of data collection and analysis, biological bases of behavior, cognitive-affective bases of behavior, and development across the lifespan. Respect for scientifically derived knowledge. Group psychologists are conversant in essential knowledge components of the scientific method. Behavioral anchors include adequate application of group research methods and evaluation of the group literature. Research and evaluation are based upon the foundational competency and scientific knowledge and methods. Group psychologist candidates for the ABGP will know current issues in the group research and routinely read and/or contribute to the literature.

Individual and Cultural Diversity: Awareness, sensitivity and skills in working professionally with diverse individuals, groups and communities who represent various cultural and personal backgrounds and characteristics defined broadly and consistent with APA policy. Group psychologists possess the essential knowledge component regarding majority and minority group behavior (realizing that even those labels can be politically charged for some groups) based on diversity composition. They are aware of the Self as shaped by culture and context, including but not limited to race; ethnicity; gender; age; religion; sexual orientation; disability; and socioeconomic diversity or class. Behavioral components include clear ability to interact with diversities that may occur in groups, as most groups are a microcosm of the larger society. The Group Academy of ABGP strongly supports this statement found on the APA website: “Valuing diversity is what institutions and members of a community do to acknowledge the benefits of their differences and similarities. They intentionally work to build sustainable relationships among people and institutions with diverse membership. A community that values diversity ensures that institutions provide equal treatment and access to resources and decisions for all community members regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and physical disability.”

Relationships: Successful candidates demonstrate sensitivity to the welfare, rights, and dignity of others, as well as the ability to relate meaningfully to individuals, groups, and communities in ways that enhance delivery of the services provided. The relationally skilled group psychologist relates interpersonally, affectively, and expressively. Moreover, the group psychologist can track multiple levels of interactions at the group level. Behavioral anchors include clear evidence of effective negotiation of conflictual relationships, understanding of diverse points of view in complicated interactions, a non-defensive posture when receiving feedback from others, and effective communication in both verbal and written interactions. Other behavioral anchors include the ability to track interaction analysis during developmental stages and member roles, as well as from member-leader, leader–member, and member-member interactions. Finally, successful candidates demonstrate these interpersonal, affective, and expressive competencies at various levels of group (small, medium, and large groups).

Ethical Legal Standards and Policy: Application of ethical concepts and awareness of legal issues regarding professional activities with individual, groups, and organizations. The Group psychologist possesses the essential knowledge component of ethical and legal standards for group practice, which includes up-todate awareness of state or provincial statutes relevant to group practice. Behavioral anchors include reading current journals regarding ethical and legal issues, actively practicing with an eye to ethics and legalities, and seeking consultation when needed.
Professionalism: Demonstrating professional values and ethics as evidenced in behavior and comportment that reflect the values and ethics of psychology, integrity, and responsibility. While professionalism is not one of the foundational or functional competencies, the advanced clinician no doubt has developed a strong sense of professionalism. Professional values and ethics of a group leader or therapist reflect behavior and attitudes that represent integrity, personal responsibility, and adherence to a professional set of standards. Behavioral anchors include deportment and accountability, concern for the welfare of group members, and a firm identification as a group psychologist.

Reflective Practice/Self-Assessment/Self-Care: Successful candidates maintain a practice conducted with personal and professional self-awareness and reflection, with awareness of competencies, and with appropriate self-care. Successful candidates demonstrate reflectivity in the context of professional practice; this reflection is acted upon; and one’s self is used as a therapeutic tool. They demonstrate frequent congruence between own and others’ assessments and seeks to resolve incongruities. They model self-care and they monitor and evaluate attitudes, values, and beliefs toward diverse others. They systematically and effectively monitor and adjust their professional performance in action as situations require. They consistently recognize and address their own problems, minimizing interference with competent professional functioning.

Self-assessment: They accurately self-assess their proficiency in all competency domains and integrate this self-assessment in practice. They accurately identify levels of aptitude across all competency domains, accurately assess their own strengths and weaknesses, and seek to prevent or ameliorate the impact of this assessment on their professional functioning. They recognize when new or improved competencies are required for effective practice.

Self-care: They monitor themselves for issues related to self-care (attention to personal health and well-being to assure effective professional functioning) and prompt interventions when disruptions occur. They anticipate and self-identify disruptions in functioning and intervene at an early stage with minimal support from supervisors. They model self-care for their clients.

Interdisciplinary Systems: Knowledge of key issues and concepts in related disciplines and the capacity to Identify and interact with professionals in multiple disciplines. Successful candidates demonstrate a working knowledge of multiple and differing worldviews, professional standards, contributions across contexts and systems, common and distinctive roles of other professions. They demonstrate ability to articulate the roles that others provide in service to clients and display the ability to work successfully on interdisciplinary teams. They understand how participation in interdisciplinary collaboration/consultation enhances outcomes. In addition, group psychologists demonstrate basic knowledge of and the ability to display the skills that support effective interdisciplinary team functioning, such as communicating without jargon, dealing effectively with disagreements about diagnosis or treatment goals, and supporting and utilizing the perspectives of other team members. They demonstrate skill in interdisciplinary clinical settings in working with other professionals to incorporate psychological information into overall team planning and implementation.

Evidenced-Based Practice: Demonstration of the capacity to integrate current research literature into clinical practice, research/evaluation, and other functional competency domains where applicable. Group psychologists are committed to evidenced-based practice based upon the best available research combined with clinical judgment. They are responsible for demonstrating the integration of current research literature into clinical practice, research, and evaluation. They are conversant in clarifying the underpinnings of the theory or system, which guide their work and how researchers and theorists in the field have influenced them. Successful candidates pay specific attention to the scientific knowledge and methods that inform their assessment, intervention, and consultation activities. Successful candidates can describe at least three major theoretical/empirical themes that influence an eclectic or integrative model.