SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP - SIGs
SIG Guidelines, Activities, and Information on How ABCT Helps SIGs
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The basic purpose of ABCT's Special Interest Groups Program is to form and maintain forums for open, regular communication among professionals sharing an interest in a particular area of the field. It is ABCT's intent to facilitate the creation and continuation of Groups that, in turn, have as their primary intent the easing of interactive communication and other professional activity among behavior therapy professionals around a particular topic of special interest to the members of the Special Interest Group.
This page offers information on:
How does ABCT Help SIGs
Once a group has earned Special Interest Group status it is afforded several opportunities that are financed by the Association and reserved for Special Interest Groups. These include being listed on the ABCT website, having space for a SIG meeting during the Annual Convention, being able to participate in the Annual Convention SIG Poster Expo, and having access to a Central Office staff liaison. A description of the group is also posted in the Special Interest Groups section in the Association's website (where the group Chair's name and address also is listed). Finally, a one-time broadcast email will be sent for a brief announcement of the group's formal acceptance as an ABCT Special Interest Group to all members of the Association. Meeting space and time, scheduled by the Program Committee, is provided at the Association's expense during each ABCT Annual Convention if the SIG leader(s) specify that they wish to hold a meeting during the Annual Convention when they complete the annual SIG paperwork that is collected in the earlier part of each calendar year. A Special Interest Group leaders' meeting is held during the Annual Convention to facilitate the sharing of strategies and concerns. The Association also arranges a Special Interest Group Exposition during the Annual Convention's Friday-night Welcoming Cocktail Party. SIGs are encouraged to participate in this event and can present research or information about their particular SIG.
The annual convention schedule offers varied topics in a wide arrange of areas of interest, some of which coincide with the interests of a particular SIG. The Program Chair works diligently to avoid the scheduling conflicts, but with the large number of sessions, conflicts can happen. Where conflicts occur, the ABCT central office works with the Program Chair to reschedule SIG meetings, if possible.
Communications are sent from the Central Office and the SIG Committee Chairperson to the individuals designated as the person to whom group communications should be sent. These communications highlight the activities of all Special Interest Groups, and announcements of upcoming events, opportunities, and deadlines. Advice and consultation is available as needed from the staff at the Central Office for activities such as recruiting new members, maintaining a mailing list, preparing a newsletter, or dues collection.
The SIG Leaders also have a Google Group for intra-SIG communication that is managed by the SIG Committee Chairperson.
Special Interest Group Financial Support:
Direct financial support is not provided for the individual Special Interest Group's expenses by ABCT; most groups finance their activities by collecting small ($3.00 - $10.00) contributions or dues from their own membership. Dues must be adequate to meet all expenses of the SIG, because ABCT will not be responsible for such expenses.
ABCT is a 501c3 organization and does not collect dues on behalf of SIGs, nor does it offer advice as to how each individual SIG should collect dues or manage its funds.
Special Interest Group Activities:
There is a great deal of diversity in the activities of the various Special Interest Groups. The most common activity, which ABCT urges all groups to engage in, is holding meetings during each ABCT Annual Convention.
Meetings held during the ABCT Annual Convention often have two components: a business meeting (where officers are elected, group goals are set for the coming year, and group accomplishments over the past year are reviewed) and a substantive component (where new research or service programs are described, an invited speaker presents an address, or a conversation hour is held). Special Interest Group meeting contents are determined internally by the membership of the individual Special Interest Groups, as are Special Interest Group contributions to the Special Interest Group Exposition Cocktail Party, held in conjunction with the ABCT Welcoming Cocktail Party. There has also been diversity across groups' contributions to the latter event: some groups have prepared displays publicizing the year's activities of their group, while others have arranged for the presentation of internally solicited and selected research papers. Special Interest Group meeting content descriptions are publicized in the Special Interest Group section of the Convention Program. Special Interest Group Exposition contributions are publicized through the program addendum that is distributed on-site.
Many Special Interest Groups participate in other aspects of the Annual Convention as well, with symposia, papers, and workshops provided by subsets of their members. These additional activities are not arranged autonomously. They grow out of the collaboration fostered by the communication that the Special Interest Group has arranged; they are submitted to, and reviewed by, the Program Committee, using the same selection/rejection criteria that are used in the case of submissions received from any individual or group of individuals affiliated with the Association. Activities that are submitted and selected in this manner are peer-reviewed Convention components and as such are included as regular entries in the body of the Convention Program.
Newsletters, financed most often by Special Interest Group members' contributions and secondarily by subsidies from group members' employing institutions, are the second most common Special Interest Group activity. While newsletter content varies across groups, it generally includes at least two of the following:
- Announcements concerning the group's Convention meeting, including convention activities germane to the SIG;
- Current research of special interest to the group's membership;
- Relevant news items;
- Announcements of employment and training opportunities;
- Group business announcements or calls for information;
- Membership surveys; and
- Announcements of meetings of related professional organizations.
Additional Group Activities Have Included:
- Creating and maintaining a social media presence;
- Circulating and updating group member directories;
- Systematically recruiting new members through personal invitations, announcements in other organizations' newsletters, and letters sent to potentially interested groups or organizations;
- Serving as an information clearinghouse on the group's topic of interest;
- Sponsoring symposia organized for and accepted by other professional organizations' Program Committees;
- Maintaining regular communication with other professional organizations of special relevance to a group's topical area, including holding meetings at their conventions;
- Networking with non-ABCT members who are leaders in fields related to the group's topical area;
- Submitting extended articles for review to the Behavior Therapist; articles that provide detailed descriptions of group activities or activity products (NOTE: descriptions of up to 200 words are published without review);
- Compiling an annotated bibliography of references related to the group's area of focal concern;
- Compiling a directory of settings with programs relevant to the group's special concern;
- Preparing a cooperatively written or edited paper or text;
- Maintaining a website;
- Sponsoring an Internet list-serve;
- Sponsoring awards, such as student research awards, awards for excellence in the SIG area, and SIG service awards.
Special Interest Group Membership Criteria:
Special Interest Groups, like ABCT, are not certifying bodies. Membership in an ABCT Special Interest Group rests on, and reflects, only having an interest in the group's identified topical concern. Groups may not establish exclusionary criteria for membership, except that Special Interest Group members must also be members of ABCT.
Special Interest Group Organizational Structures:
There has been, and continues to be, tremendous diversity in the organizational structures observed across Special Interest Groups.
Some groups elect leaders, or, if the groups are large and active enough, slates of officers with specific responsibilities at regular intervals, for specified terms of office, during the business components of their ABCT convention meetings. Others have nominations and elections by mail ballot. Still others have had appointed or self-appointed leaders. Each SIG is encouraged to have a democratic and inclusive procedure for the election of officers at least once every three years.
SIG leadership may use the following titles: leaders, facilitators, managers, directors, organizers.
SIG leadership may not use the following titles: presidents, vice presidents, coordinators.
If there are questions about what title can or cannot be used, please contact the ABCT Central Office staff liaison for consultation.
ABCT recognizes that there are certain constraints that may preclude the use of a fully democratic process in electing group leaders. Especially if groups do not charge dues, for instance, it is often critical for the Special Interest Group leader to be limited to persons who can arrange access to freely usable duplicating and mailing sources (e.g., at present, universities and institutions often allow such use). In general, however, ABCT encourages building in as much democracy as is functional for a given group. Where leaders are not elected, it is expected that volunteers interested in group leadership positions will be publicly invited though announcements in the Behavior Therapist and announcements made during the business portion of the group's annual meeting at the ABCT Convention.
Special Interest Group Responsibilities:
The Special Interest Group program is maintained by ABCT as a service to the Association's members. Special Interest Groups exist to serve subsets of the Association's members by fostering communication among those who share a specified common interest. Therefore, Special Interest Groups are accountable to their memberships. By virtue of the fact that Special Interest Groups are associated with, and therefore reflect on, ABCT and by virtue of the fact that many Special Interest Group opportunities are financed by monies approved and drawn from general ABCT membership dues, Special Interest Groups are also accountable to the Association.
A group may be deleted from ABCT's list of Special Interest Groups at the initiation of either the group or the Association's Board of Directors. Any group may terminate its relationship with ABCT by a majority vote of its membership, with that vote communicated to the Association by the terminal Chair of the group.
From the point of view of the Association, to remain an ABCT Special Interest Group, individual groups must meet each of three criteria, all of which are designed to index one of the two areas of the group's accountability. Failure to meet any criterion for two consecutive years, except under extraordinary or unusual circumstances as evaluated by ABCT's Board of Directors, will result in the Group's deletion from the ABCT Special Interest Group Program.
Because the Special Interest Groups Program is supported by the dues of the general ABCT membership, the first criterion is having a minimum of 20 members, all of whom are current ABCT members. Groups will demonstrate that they meet this criterion by attaching a current list of their group members, with email addresses and ABCT membership status indicated, to their group's Annual Activity Report.
A Special Interest Group, the membership of which drops below the criterion number, may request, and will automatically be afforded, except under extraordinary and unusual circumstances as determined by the Association's Board of Directors, a one-year Special Status period. During this year, more than the ordinary amount of assistance will be provided to the group by the national organization, and the Association will send two broadcast emails to a subset of members who specialize in specific areas that are chosen by the group's Chair.
The second criterion is providing a description of group activities by returning the Annual Group Activity Report and all other forms provided by the ABCT Central Office. These report forms will be distributed from the Central Office and must be completed and returned by the specified due date each year. All Special Interest Groups are required to send in a listing of their members at this time.
As you know, liability concerns have greatly altered organizations' services and activities for their memberships. Accordingly, because the activities of individual Special Interest Groups reflect on the Association, the third criterion is engaging in activities that are compatible with the mission statement, aims, purposes, and practices of the Association. Where there is concern about the appropriateness of a group's activities, final determination will rest with the Association's Board of Directors.
The members of Special Interest Groups must act in accordance with copyright, libel/slander, and HIPAA/client confidentiality legal and ethical guidelines. For example, copyrighted material must not be reproduced without the permission of the owner (each SIG is responsible for the maintenance of their SIG website and their social media accounts, where deemed beneficial, and should remain vigilant that all posted articles have been checked and/or updated on an ongoing basis to avoid copyright infringement). SIG members do not discuss pricing issues, such as how much to charge for a session or prevailing rates, as such discussions are prohibited by anti-trust laws. One can, on the other hand, discuss the mechanism of billing, but not the amounts to be billed. Identifying client characteristics may not be discussed. For further information regarding these areas, refer to our List Serve regulations and/or contact David Teisler (Director of Communications) at: firstname.lastname@example.org
At the present time no ABCT Special Interest Groups are incorporated. While there are pros and cons for incorporation, it should be noted that if a Special Interest Group is not incorporated, its members or organizing individuals may be held personally liable for torts and contractual obligations of the Special Interest Group they represent. Issues for which the Special Interest Group leadership could be held liable might include a broken hotel contract for meeting space and/or sleeping rooms, an attendee falling at a meeting, or a member not being listed in a Special Interest Group membership list. We recommend at a minimum that each Special Interest Group officer and/or director carry personal liability insurance that covers their professional activities.
Criteria That Each Special Interest Group Must Comply With on an Annual Basis:
We believe it is important that you are aware of potential liability issues not only with regard to ABCT, but also with regard to individual groups and the members of their leadership. We will continue to inform you of our findings in this area and we reserve the right to make changes in our Special Interest Groups Program as new information comes to light.
The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies is eager to assist individuals and groups interested in developing Special Interest Groups. Please feel invited to contact us to discuss your interest in establishing an ABCT Special Interest Group.
Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT)
305 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 647-1890
Fax: (212) 647-1865