History of COGPS

Marc Azoulay MA, LPC, LAC, CGP

I was first exposed to the American Group Psychotherapy Association by former COGPS President Jeff Price, I was a member of a process group that he ran at Naropa University. After one of the groups he asked if I’d like to come to the AGPA conference in New Orleans. I was interested: I was excited to learn about groups, take a week off of school and party with my teachers! I didn’t really know what to expect but after that first week at AGPA I was BLOWN AWAY by the power of group treatment. So much so that I went back to Jeff and told him that he was doing it wrong.

After getting hooked on group treatment I decided to run for President of our local affiliate, I wanted to promote quality treatment across the state and allow others to both have and facilitate the experiences I had at the AGPA conference. I didn’t think I would win the nomination but I made a campaign video and petitioned some of the local therapists that I knew. And guess what: I WON! So here I am, the current President of COGPS. My aim is work on increasing COGPS’s reach through digital marketing techniques and online content creation methods. My hope is that we can be a model for modernizing affiliate organizations. I hope to build upon the COGPS Lineage and to bring AGPA’s National Conference to Denver in 2020.

Casey Burnett, MA - COGPS President

Casey Burnett MA, LPC

A classmate of mine was not able to attend the AGPA Annual Meeting during our time in school, and this gave me an idea to put on a bite-size version of the Annual Meeting.  That was my singular goal.  It seemed that COGPS was not going to be able to organize like other ASA’s that were closer geographically and had denser membership addresses.  COGPS’s membership is spread out, and a single conference provided something to focus on and gather for. Another one of my goals was to get COGPS out of Boulder, which for a long time was the hub of COGPS’s roots and ties, limiting its impact to mostly those who already know groups are great.

Dr. Andrew Van Dyke Psy.D, LPC CGP

I filed a vacuum during a transitional time for COGPS and I refused to let the group community that was already established here die due to lack of leadership. I accepted the AGPA representative to the affiliate assembly position from Francis K. in January of 2010.  Elizabeth Olsen and Karen Drucker (co-presidents) resigned in April of 2009. I stepped into the role of Affiliate Assembly Rep and defacto president as there was no one at the wheel essentially and I did my best to “put humpty dumpty back together again” which is something I have often said about that time period.  I remained active on the affiliate assembly and tried to organize the COGPS board and elect new leaders as well as try to keep the COGPS community engaged. I spoke with Casey for quite awhile and offered the representative role to him and he took up the challenge of finishing the job of reorganizing COGPS. I assumed this transitional presidency until Casey was appointed by a small assembly of interested affiliates at a meeting we had at AGPA in 2013. 

Dr. Karen Drucker Psy.D


Elizabeth Olsen and I were very involved in the first conference we had at Boulder mental health center. Then we got the invitation to support Denver mental health staff with team building and group work.  Francis Kaklauskas, Jeff Price, myself, and Bob Unger went down to work with them in small groups for a 10 week stint which was quite rich and stimulating. For me, being involved in COGPS was instrumental in my development as a group therapist. I also connected professionally as I did my doctorate in the east coast, so didn’t have a big network in Colorado.

Dr. Elizabeth Olson Psy.D, LCSW, CGP

I had the honor of serving as co-president of COGPS with Dr. Karen Drucker. During our presidency, we worked to begin a once a month talk series on group psychotherapy. Dr. Robert Unger was our first presenter. We worked on local conferences together and worked to encourage our local Colorado communities to engage in group training and group offerings.

Jeff Price MA, LPC, LAC, CGP

Bill Sell organized the first COGPS sometime in the mid- to late-90’s. I’m not sure how long it lasted, but it was a dormant organization when I began attending the AGPA’s Affiliate Society Assembly (ASA) as a Colorado Representative in 1999 or 2000. A preliminary breakfast-meeting was held in 2001 setting the stage for a more formal meeting. It was in May, 2002, that I felt ready to attempt to reconstitute the organization and called for a meeting at my home in Longmont. About 20 therapists and group leaders from around the state attended and the energy was high. At that “official” meeting people volunteered to take on certain tasks and positions, discussions were held on holding a two-day conference and other nuts-and-bolts business was brought to the floor. A Board was elected, I was elected President and we were off and running!

I served two two-year terms, conferences were held (which included Institute sections, at AGPA, and Large Group workshops) and the organization found its legs. In 2006 the summer meeting of the ASA was held in Denver. Affiliate Reps came out to Colorado and had a great meeting (highlighted by Lise Motherwell’s Lego workshop!).  Afterwards the reps got to enjoy our beautiful state. Subsequent COGPS administrations have taken the organization further and further. Our connection to the AGPA has gotten stronger and stronger as evidenced by several Coloradoans serving on the AGPA Board of Directors and a variety of organizational committees over the years.

We began as a relatively small group located in the Boulder area, drawing membership primarily from the Naropa University environment.  Efforts were made to stretch the territory. We did have one meeting in Fort Collins. We tried expanding south into the Denver area and even discussed Colorado Springs as an untapped area. Those efforts were not very successful. Today, though, we are a thriving Affiliate Society really are expanding our reach to a larger portion of the state. On a larger scale, we are recognized, appreciated and respected by the AGPA. We’ve come a long way and I’m very excited about the ground our group will be covering in the future.