Welcome to our new editor!
We are pleased to welcome Jane Okech, PhD as Editor of the Journal for Specialists in group Work (JSGW). Get to know more about Dr. Okech and her vision for the journal.
- How did you get involved with ASGW and/or JSGW and what led to your decision to serve as Editor?
I became a member of ASGW while I was a graduate student under the guidance of my dissertation supervisor, Dr. William Kline. He encouraged me to join the Association to broaden my understanding of group work practice and research, as well as to network with other practitioners and scholars in the field. Throughout the years, I have served the Association in various roles, including being a member of the Human Rights and Diversity Committee, Research and Grants Committee, and Chair of the Human Rights & Diversity Committee.
As an ASGW member, I have received quarterly editions of the JSGW for almost 20 years and have read every copy. In 2005, I published my first refereed article in the JSGW, which was also included in my dissertation. The article was awarded the “2006 Outstanding Article Award” by the Journal for Specialists in Group Work, and it was recognized at the Annual American Counseling Association Conference and Exhibition in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Since then, I have sole/co-published 13 articles in the journal and have received two additional awards from ASGW for publications, including the 2015 Outstanding Article Award and the 2017 Article of the Year award. I have also served as an Adhoc reviewer for the journal from 2007 to 2015, and I joined the editorial board as a reviewer in 2016 and was subsequently appointed as an Associate Editor in 2019.
I’ve been an active member of JSGW and ASGW for a considerable time now, and I can confidently say that my experience with them has been incredibly rewarding. As a 2018 ASGW Fellow, I’m committed to the association and enthusiastic about continuing my involvement in my new role as Executive Editor of the Journal for Specialists in group Work.
- What are your goals for the journal coming into your editorship?
I have multiple goals for the journal:
- We need to make it clear that the JSGW is committed to DEI and include this in our mission statement. We should work with the JSGW Associate Editors to update journal documents accordingly.
- Collaborate with the JSGW associate editors and the Taylor Francis Team to track information about the JSGW authors and editorial board members. Actively seek out a diverse range of authors and editorial board members to contribute to the journal.
- Create a training program for new editorial board members that covers the fundamental principles of group work, provides strategies for effectively addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion during the manuscript review process, and improves the feedback given to enhance the quality of published manuscripts in the journal.
- Collaborate with the JSGW Associate Editors and other journal authors to present an editorial series that promotes the use of DEI principles by authors in their manuscript development, research initiatives, practice models, and evaluation procedures.
- As part of my efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity, I plan to collaborate with the JSGW Associate Editors in taking steps to assist authors who speak multiple languages and may face challenges in communicating effectively in English in their manuscripts. We aim to support these writers in developing high-quality manuscripts that can be published in JSGW, particularly when language barriers are identified as the primary obstacle during the peer review process.
- Collaborate closely with associate editors and pertinent ASGW committees to develop impactful programs geared towards early career counselor educators and graduate students. These programs will be showcased at conferences, serving as a powerful tool to introduce them to the journal’s core focus and actively mentor future reviewers. Additionally, they will encourage group workers to get involved with JSGW and ASGW, thereby fostering a stronger community of like-minded professionals.
- What are your own primary areas of focus in terms of research/scholarship?
My area of expertise is group psychotherapy and clinical supervision, with a focus on improving skills and techniques for working with diverse populations across different continents. I study how counseling micro-skills and advanced skill acquisition contribute to positive therapeutic outcomes for individuals and groups, as well as how they contribute to effective leadership skill development. Additionally, I examine models of clinical supervision and the development of core intervention skills for different domains of clinical practice. My scholarship is characterized by themes of advocacy for equity-centered counselor education and supervision and often delves into the intersection of counselor training, professional ethics, and standards of practice.
- What’s your best piece of advice for authors seeking to publish with JSGW?
I recommend reading a variety of publications, especially those related to the JSGW, if you’re interested in publishing in the journal. It’s important to understand the journal’s purpose, audience, author requirements, and scope. To get a better understanding, read articles that offer best practices in group work research (McCarthy, 2012), guidelines for manuscript development for authors of practice articles (Okech et al, 2022), and contemporary articles in the journal’s recent special issues on anti-racist group work practice. You should also familiarize yourself with the ASGW Guidelines for group work (2021), including the principle of multicultural and social justice competencies (Sigh, 2012). Being well-read will allow you to contribute to the field by enhancing existing knowledge, filling gaps in unexplored areas, and introducing new strategies for clinical practice, teaching, and research. By doing so, you’ll be better suited to publish in the JSGW.
- Association for Specialists in Group Work. (2021). ASGW guiding principles for group work. https:// asgw.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/ASGW-Guiding-Principles-May-2021.pdf
- McCarthy, C. J. (2012). Developing best practices for researching group work. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 37(2), 93–94. https://doi.org/10.1080/01933922.2012.666445
- Okech, J. E. A., Ohrt, J. H., Steen, S., & Goodrich, K. M. (2022). Group Work Practice Articles: Recommendations for Manuscript Development, The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 47:1, 1-9, https://doi.org/10.1080/01933922.2022.2014744
- Singh, A. A., Merchant, N., Skudrzyk, B., & Ingene, D. (2012). Association for specialists in group work: Multicultural and social justice competence principles for group workers. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 37(4), 312–325. https://doi.org/10.1080/01933922.2012.721482