Jamie Moran, LCSW, CGP

Specializing in group therapy for diverse populations 

November/December 2012   

Hello all,


I hope this message finds you in pleasant spirits as we approach the holidays, longer nights and winter months.  I have a lot to share in this newsletter, including a book review and details regarding two upcoming workshops on groups in SF and on the Peninsula. After receiving numerous inquiries about CEU's I am hoping to begin offering them for my workshops in the near future.


All my best,

Jamie Moran, LCSW, CGP


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Book Review

Group: Six People in Search of a Life

By Paul Solotaroff
Berkley Books, 1999
Cover image 

When I meet clients who are interested in group, the most common question is, "What will this group really be like?"  Since there is no "preview" to group (as one might look at an apartment or car), some way of conveying the group experience is paramount. Paul Solotaroff's book Group: Six People in Search of a Life does a good job of providing a window into some of group's possibilities. I recommend this book for people who are curious, motivated, and interested in group with the desire to know how it works and how they may benefit.


Mr. Solotaroff focuses on one year of group therapy in Manhattan.  The author conveys the stories of six group members under the care of therapist and psychiatrist Dr. Lathon. An element of crisis is a guiding theme for each group member. Dr. Lathon is a true believer in group and has seen, like many of us, a potential for accelerated growth and movement through group participation.  The experiences of the group members are fascinating and at times, gripping, as one roots for these individuals as they navigate through their pain and struggles. 


Dr. Lathon focuses on common therapy dilemmas such as the influence of family upbringing and examination of defenses; nothing is particularly new for the seasoned client or therapist reading this account. However, the content is packaged in an engaging and useful manner.  Group members are asked to participate according to the following principles:


1)   Challenging the false story.   The false story is what one shares in preventing the problem from being solved, also known as avoidance.  The true story is encouraged to be seen as the "root" injury; one that takes courage and vulnerability to both uncover and stay with.  


2)   Trying doesn't cut it with the tough love Dr. Lathon. "Practicing," rather than "trying" is the preferred form of engagement.


3)  The "suffering conversation" is demonstrated by endless why questions - those tending toward bottomless circularity without resolution - vs. the "effective conversation" which leads to the original pain and the potential for movement.  Dr. Lathon is a big believer in confronting parents for their ineffective and at times, pathological parenting, as well as challenging clients who aren't doing the work.  


As is sometimes the case in therapy, the group experience yielded mixed results.  The members who have the most "success" do so because of their ongoing commitment to practice, ability to see through their defenses to the core pain and willingness to incorporate new behaviors.  Group members interact with concern and fondness while also challenging each other.  There is swearing, competition, flirting and posturing accompanying the deep pain and pathos of those who express it.  The author portrays mostly believable stories and concrete ways that group works, such that you might want to join a group immediately after finishing this book! If you are interested in group either as a therapist or a client, this book will certainly give you an overview of what group is about.



Contextual reactions to this particular portrayal of group therapy:

a) The author/narrator was a former client of the therapist, and now is a collaborator, which would evoke ethical issues for most of us.

b) The group starts out meeting twice monthly, which is not a common mode of psychotherapy group work. The therapist eventually changes to weekly meetings when things heat up.

c) All group members appear to be White, heterosexual and fairly privileged.  It would have been interesting to see what a group that was more diverse produced.  


12.1.12 | Navigating Group Conflicts 

San Francisco

All groups, regardless of focus and purpose have the potential for conflict.  Although some groups emphasize low to no conflict (such as certain grief and support groups), most psychotherapy groups should honor and incorporate conflict as an important and integral part of the work.  In this seminar we will cover three areas in which conflict can be examined to deepen group work while increasing the leader's comfort surrounding this potentially challenging phenomenon:  


1. An in depth understanding of the leader's relationship with conflict, including the need to be liked, any historic unresolved issue with conflict and discomfort with certain kinds of conflict. 

2. The role of scapegoating in conflict and ways to have group members "own" their part of a conflict. 

3. Linking conflict directly to original goals of group members, thus providing additional motivation and direction for addressing conflict. 


This workshop will include a didactic segment, followed by discussion and focus on individual experiences with conflict.




This workshop is being freely offered to therapists, social workers, interns, trainees and students.     


This seminar will take place at the San Francisco LGBTQ Center [1800 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102] from 3:30 to 5:00pm on Saturday, December 1st.  Please RSVP as space is limited.      



1.5.13 | Screening & Intake Questions for Support & Therapy Groups
Redwood City

A vital part of group functionality and success is the preparation we do as group leaders.  A screening (intake) session is an opportunity to educate clients about the parameters of the group, including expectations, purposes and challenges.  Various well thought out questions and explorations with the client may help optimize the group functioning in several ways, including avoiding overt dissatisfaction from clients ("I didn't know the group was about this!") and deterring early and unexpected termination.  Additionally, some clients may self select out of group, given the clarity of parameters described.  This workshop will provide an overview and suggested purpose to screening questions. Variations will be discussed as they pertain to group topic, length of group, commitment time, the leader's style and theoretical orientation.   



This workshop is being freely offered to clinicians such as therapists, social workers, interns, trainees and students.


This seminar will take place at the Redwood Shores Library in Redwood City [399 Marine Pkwy, Redwood City, CA 94065] from 1:30pm to 3:30pm on Saturday, January 5th.  Please RSVP as space is limited.   


 Gay & Bisexual Men's Psychotherapy Groups: SF | Menlo Park

Menlo Park | Gay & Bisexual Men's Group 

Monday 6:15-7:45pm CURRENT OPENING

San Francisco | Gay Men's Groups 

All Hayes Valley unless stated otherwise

Tuesday 5:50-7:20pm FULL
Tuesday 7:30-9:00pm FULL
Wednesday 5:45-7:15pm FULL
Wednesday 7:25-8:55pm CURRENT OPENING
*Thursday 6:30-8:00pm CURRENT OPENING
  Co-facilitated with Greg Millard, Ph.D., in the Financial District


Please contact me for more details.    





Jamie Moran, LCSW, CGP

Psychotherapy and Consultation

Licensed Clinical Social Worker #14447

Certified Group Psychotherapist #42559


425 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA 94102  (415) 552-9408

661 Live Oak Avenue, Menlo Park, CA 94025  (650) 598-8877

www.jamiemoran.com | jammoran@aol.com



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