Grad students have opportunity to learn from one of nation's leading psychology experts

By Janel Shoun-Smith on 5/10/2013

  
  

It is common knowledge that the textbook is standard equipment for any college course. But, it’s not very often that students get to set aside the textbook and learn directly from the textbook author.

Gerald CoreyGerald Corey, professor emeritus of human services at California State University, Fullerton, and author of 16 psychology textbooks, visited the Lipscomb University campus this past semester to hold a weeklong seminar in group therapy for counseling graduate students.

“Not only has Dr. Corey written several of the textbooks that we use in our graduate counseling program, he is the leading expert on group psychotherapy,” said Jake Morris, chair of Lipscomb’s psychology department. “To spend an intensive week with Dr. Corey was a priceless experience for our students.”

Corey is the author of Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Theory and Practice of Group Counseling and more than 60 articles in professional publications.  Some of his textbooks have been translated into as many as six languages. He is the recipient of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Mental Health Counselors Association and of the Eminent Career Award from the Association for Specialists in Group Work.

Every year for the past 30 years, Corey has presented at the American Counseling Association (ACA) convention, which is a feat that is almost impossible to accomplish. Morris met Corey three years ago at the ACA convention in New Orleans.

“As I was walking through the ACA exhibit hall with Dr. Corey, I would hear people comment, ‘There goes a living legend,’” said Morris.

Thanks to Morris’ friendship with Corey, Lipscomb was able to benefit from his career-long experience this past March. Morris co-taught the class with Corey.

Seven students in Lipscomb’s graduate counseling program attended the spring seminar, along with several visiting students from Freed-Hardeman University. Corey used didactic and experiential techniques to explore topics such as integrative approaches and diversity and multicultural issues in counseling. He led the students in their own group therapy sessions, allowing them to experience the techniques and therefore conduct it more effectively for others.

“I feel that I gained special skills and knowledge on group therapy that I do not think I would have learned otherwise,” said Kristina Barker, a master’s degree candidate from Memphis, who attended the seminar. “I was able to experience the group setting first-hand from a member’s perspective and experience the healing and connective qualities of belonging to a therapy group.

“The class will aid me in becoming a better group therapist and counselor overall because I was able to challenge some of my preconceived notions on how a therapist should act and to experience what a group member goes through,” she said.

According to Barker, Corey would go for walks after each therapy session, to release any pent-up tension. He also brought a lot of humor to the classroom, she said. “He taught us that laughter is therapeutic in its own way and can be a better form of catharsis than crying or screaming,” she said.

In the past 30 years, Corey has conducted experiential group counseling workshops for mental health professionals at many universities in the United States as well as in Korea, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Scotland, Mexico, China and Canada. 

“This experience was essential (for the Lipscomb students. Many students go into the counseling field and need to do groups, but they didn’t get enough training in the one required course,” said Corey.

“The Lipscomb students were interested, involved, engaging, willing to challenge themselves and well-prepared. I was very pleased with our time together and the work that they did.”