Testimonials & Letters

“Dear Judith, Congratulations!!!!!! What a wonderful article about you  and your amazing group  couples counseling . You certainly are a master at what you do. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you have  done for us and our family. It was wonderful to hear about Juliette and  her joining you in the practice. Love, E and PC”

Below are direct, anonymous quotes from couples involved in group work for less than one year.  Some will continue the work, others are ready to leave. All have been deeply impacted by the power of their work….

·      “I have to say that a year ago, when we all came in here, I didn’t think anyone could trump us in a bad story, but…you did and I was impressed!”...one man to another

·      “I learned how much you love me. I never knew that”…a female member to her husband of many years

·      “Sometimes I feel like someone is trying to mold me into someone I’m just not”…a man changing

·      “I have been impressed at how open you have been to bein’ open…” one man to another

·      “I found out things about myself that I wouldn’t have expected to…I have learned things about myself that have allowed me to know that I needed to change.”  A man graduating from the couples group

·      “I feel really confident that we have the will and the equipment to be married in a way that works.”  A couple graduating

·      “The big surprise to me was that you can change. I thought you had come to the place where you were, and could not change, but you disproved that. I am joyful about itl I never thought we could be this way with one another.” A woman to her husband

·      “We are back (as a couple) and we are better than ever!” A couple to their group

·      When I look back on my goals, I have gotten every one of them.” Someone assessing progress

·      “There were breakthrough moments that came from other people, where we could hear things we couldn’t hear any other way….in the group you hear each other and your hear yourselves differently( than in other forms of therapy).”  A woman appreciating her group

·      “It is hard for me sometimes cause it feels like I am being pried open…and I am really private”. A man changing

·      “One of the things I have gotten from the group experience is that I now trust that you want to marry me. I feel more confident about your love for me. “ An engaged woman to her fiance

·      “The group takes me to places that take me by surprise!” a member


What follows are direct quotes. Names withheld for confidentiality reasons. Dr. Coche, Nov 08

My Final thoughts about this group with no preparation of what I am about to say…..

·       Woman, long married to one person: “ I can’t think of a better group of people to share my heart with  “

·       Man. Long married to one person: “ Thank you all for your input, for pushing me,, for calling me when I was hiding and all of your love and warmth…it helped me grow and I appreciate it”

·       Woman with baby, first marriage of under five years: “We went through some of the most tender times in our lives and having you all made it really wonderful..tender loving and tender painful.”

·       Man in second marriage with baby, married under five years: “I hope everyone continues to push themselves to tackle these issues whatever the issue..whether in or not in a group…I know I will”

·       Man with baby in first marriage, under five years: “This has not made a realdifference, this has made thedifference for me….in m y marriage”

·       Woman to her young adult single daughter:  “ We’ll send you to couples school after you get engaged.  You weren’t expecting a normal gift from us were you?”

The view from those in leadership and doing observation:

·       A journalist in the group: “Thank you very much…I am humbled by this….I have more love for people having been here….”

·       Juliette Galbraith,M.D.,  co lead: “This has been a really neat year for me….this is my third group year but my first couples group….I loved being part of this group…I loved the level of work and 

the dynamics..and the support…and the uniqueness of seeing the live and babies and new careers…seeing the  life development changes is remarkable”

·       Judith Coche, Ph.D., Co Lead and developer of the training model for couples group psychotherapy: “ My sense is that you are going to carry these people in your hearts for the rest of your lives….”

Sixteen Letters from Past and current Trainees and Colleagues who praise Judith’s work


We went to the students that Judith teaches and has taught, supervises now and has supervised clinically for forty years.  And the AGPA and Penn colleagues who ask her to train their students group therapy theory, research and practice . Judith coordinates Group Therapy training n the Department of Residency Training at the Perelman Medicals School of The University of Pennsylvania. We also sked colleagues who have taught and learned from her through her ongoing four decades of work for and in AGPA. And those she trains in the model she has developed and published in couples group psychotherapy since 1990.  

At the request of the committee we gathered more letters from trainees who had find Judith’s training memorable. They told us of their high objective ratings as well as of their deep respect and appreciation of their opportunity to learn how to lead groups.  

16 letters follow: half are from appreciative colleagues Judith has trained or now trains; half are from colleagues who speak to her ability to train at AGPA, in Universities, and globally. 

Judith Coche as Clinical Supervisor and Mentor.   Letters from past and current supervisees: 

1.     Ben Hunter, M.D., Psychiatrist, Georgia

2.     Ella Negru, PsyD Candidate, La Salle University

3.     Dr Susan Walker, PhD, CGP; Faculty, Counseling Psychology

4.     Melissa Hunt, Ph.D., Director Training, University of Pennsylvania PhD in Clinical Psychology

5.     Hanan El-Mazahy, MD, Hoda Mahfouz, MD, Eman Onsy, MA

6.     , Andrew Chansky, Chief Resident in Psychiatry at the Perelman Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania, 

7.     Kate Riva, MD, Psychiatrist, Boulder Colorado

8.     Alissa Hunt, Psy.D, CGP at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Philadelphia,  

9.     Tom Suberman, MD, Psychiatrist, Los Angeles

Note: Since 1980 Judith has supervised graduate student in group psychotherapy pro bono a minimum of 200 hours each year.  Some are candidates for the PhD in Clinical Psychology or Psychiatric Residents who plan to go on to teach and practice what they learn in supervision. She gets requests from international and local colleagues who want to learn from her.  She has developed a two-year pro bono mentoring program in which a student coheads a therapy group with her and receives her live supervision.  This apprentice model of the senior -junior ecotherapy model is one of the advantages of cotherapy.  She has mentored 2-3 students annually in this way for about 30 years, giving her about 12000 hours of mentoring for trainees who plan to contribute to the filed as soon as they can begin their own groups in agencies and private practice.  She has mentored students from Holland, Germany, Hungary, England, Canada and the United States. This year she continues to consult with 3 Egyptian Psychiatrists who requested her help after she trained about 80 colleagues in Egypt. These colleagues in turn pass on the knowledge to their clients and colleagues through their own teaching. Her influence reaches thousands of clients and students each year. These letters speak to their deep respect and appreciation of her help. She has mentored Clinical Psychology students from the University of Pennsylvania’s Doctoral Program, Psychiatric Residents taking Dr Coche’s Didactic and Process course on The Power of Group, as part of their mandatory training, international colleagues studying locally or doing ongoing phone consults with her, AGPA colleagues and students from other local advanced training in mental health.


Letters from AGPA colleagues and appreciative faculty at the University of Pennsylvania where she is a Clinical Professor and Director of Group Therapy Training.  These speak to Judith’s capacity to train deep process while simultaneously upholding highest standards in teaching theory and research to esteemed colleagues. She has presented annually at AGPA for most of the last 30 years and has done frequent telecourses to provide continuing learning.

1.     Scott Rutan, PhD, CGP trained Judith to lead Process Institute for AGPA. She did.

2.     Richard Summers, MD was Director of Residency Training for many years and invited Judith to design their training program based on the CGP, then in its infancy. That program has grown to require 4 faculty teach 25 hours to each resident in Psychiatry during their 2ndyear. 

3.     Leslie Rescorla, PhD is a leader in Child Development theory research and clinical practice and Professor of Psychology at Bryn Mawr College, where Judith got her PhD. 

4.     Julian Slowinski, PsyD, has long been known for his pioneering work in Viagra training for Physicians. He has worked with Judith in her couple groups and speaks to her clinical expertise.

5.     Cabrina Campbell, MD is Head of Residency Training in Psychiatry at Penn and knows Judith’s work deeply. 

6.     Afaf Meleis, PhD was just named “Legend in Nursing” for her global impact on women’s health and theories of how people change. She has invited Dr Coche to train in Egypt and Africa and knows her work deeply

7.     Greg Crosby, CGP has been a cohort at AGPA where he has colead training in research and practice with Judith. He knows her work well.

8.     Mona Rhkawy, MD is EAGT President in Egypt and invited Judith to teach in Egypt. 

Shari Y. Baron, MSN, CNS, CGP, FAGPA

100 West 6thStreet, Suite 303

Media, Pennsylvania 19063

610-449-6550 / fax: 610-449-6556 / www.shariyb.com



October 28, 2018


Tony Sheppard,PsyD, CGP, FAGPA

Sherrie L. Smith, LCSW-R, CGP, FAGPA

Clinical Professional Relations Committee Co-Chairs 

International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists 

Dear Sherrie and Tony:  

It is with sincere admiration that I am writing to nominate Judith Coché for the Harold S. Bernard Group Psychotherapy Training Award. I have known Judith for forty years, initially through the Philadelphia affiliate of the American Group Psychotherapy Association (AGPA), and have been teaching group psychotherapy with her at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine for ten years. I believe I am qualified to evaluate and support Judith’s nomination for this award. 


In the time I have known Judith (and before!), she has worked tirelessly to promote the visibility of practice standards for group psychotherapy as an early champion of the certification of group therapists via her work with the International Board for Certification of Group Psychotherapists (IBCGP) as well as independently. As a member of the AGPPA Board she was among the original group that gathered expertise and energy to create the CGP.  

Judith is best known for her careful development of the theory, practice and some research in Couples Group Psychotherapy. The model she developed with her first late husband, Dr Erich Coche, is the primary model worldwide.  Erich was beloved at AGPA until his death in 1990. Judith has developed the theory and is the subject of AGPA’s DVD on this topic, for sale on the website.  Letters from colleagues Albert Neeleman, PhD and the Egyptian colleagues she trains pro bono, and past trainees Dr Alissa Silverman and Ella Negru speak to her remarkable expertise in this crucially important treatment modality. Her work has trained thousands since her book has been in print since 1990. It is the primary work in the field as witnessed by her invitation to author the chapter on this topic for the Encyclopedia of Couples and Marital therapy. Her work bridges a needed gap between systems therapy with couples and family and systems therapy with groups.  Like her old friend and neighbor the late Yvonne agazarian, Judith is an expert in interpersonal systems.


Judith has trained worldwide and has been on the faculty of many local academic departments in the Philadelphia area, but she has landed creating programs as  Coordinator of Group Psychotherapy Training for The Department of Psychiatry at the Perleman Medical Center of the University of Pennsylvania,  where I also teach at her suggestion.  About twenty year ago, she was invited by key faculty at Perelman Medical Center at the University of Pennsylvania to design the thorough 25-hour training program in Group Therapy. We train every Resident Psychiatrist in group dynamics, group process and group psychotherapy. She agreed to develop the program with the stipulation that the Department of Psychiatry would support highest standards of excellence. At that point in time it was very unusual to find programs that were aware of and supported highest standards in training group therapy  in keeping with those of AGPA.  But since she had been active in creating and supporting the CGP, this was a natural decision.  The department accepted AGPA standards with deep appreciation, and has honored each step of the way towards superb training in group therapy.  She holds the post of Clinical Professor, one of the early women to be invited to this distinction. Together the faculty of four women that she has invited, has trained hundreds of the next generation of leaders in Psychiatry. We model the enthusiasm of the AGPA way of working. It is catching. Group therapy has become popular when it was once hidden under the mantel of the very famous CBT work of Aaron Beck and the deep appreciation for psychoanalytic training that remains at Penn. 


Judith knew our residents needed process training so she went further.  Over a decade ago, she invited me to co-lead the process group course which is done in the spirit of the national training in process both she and I received through AGPA.  Her beloved mentor, Dr Sott Rutan, trained her to lead process groups at AGPA and she has gone on to spread his wealth to may others.  Just about every Penn Psychiatric resident has taken this course since its inception.  Through Judith’s leadership, over 150 of tomorrow’s leaders in psychiatry have been trained in AGPA standards of excellence.  The program has blossomed, receives accolades from faculty and students, and now has four of us teaching.  Judith, a Clinical Supervisor in group, couples and family therapy for both the CGP and the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, , got the Department of Psychiatry to require that each faculty in group therapy has attained the CGP. She personally trained Dr Alissa Silverman pro bono for over a year,  to ensure that this standard is kept by insisting that Alyssa obtain the CGP to teach with us.  Alissa’s grateful letter is part of the accolades for Judith in the letters from colleagues.  In this way Judith sets the standard and pushes to get it honored. She has done this with licensure for Psychologists in Pennsylvania in the 1970s and every since. 


By creating and expanding the group psychotherapy program (Power of Groups) for Psychiatric Residents at Penn and through programs offered nationally and internationally via AGPA and the International Association for Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes (IAGP), Judith has consistently provided opportunities for psychiatrists, psychologists and other professional providers to become well educated and certified in the practice of group psychotherapy. She has encouraged professionals from all disciplines to continue learning throughout their practice years and has authored several books, workbooks and many articles for professionals and trainees, providing valuable contributions to the area of group psychotherapy education. Judith also created a model of couples’ group psychotherapy and   She continues to teach and publish taught and publishedextensively about the value of the group model when working with couples. 


As letters on behalf of her skill poured in, Judith expressed surprise at the enthusiasm they convey.  And I too have been touched to read the letters from colleagues that have been sent in support of this nomination. A few of her many letters reflecton Harold’s career and mention that Judith’s work is the kind of career that he wanted acknowledged with this award. I agree. 


 Judith’s trainees have developed group psychotherapy training programs in many cities and countries.  In one of the multiple letters from Judith’s former trainees enclosed with this nomination, Jason M. Satterfield, PhD, currently director of Professor of Behavioral Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, explains, “… I created a group psychotherapy program that melds the wisdom and group techniques I learned from Dr. Coach with behavioral medicine and cognitive— behavioral therapy. Much to my delight, I’ve learned that the group theory, conceptualization, and application I learned from my years as a trainee with Judy have also greatly enhanced my skills as an educator. Using small group formats, we have successfully run an internal medicine residency training course in social and behavioral medicine for the past 18 years including a textbook now in its 4the edition. I am also a course director for medical students responsible for shaping group norms, assessing and addressing the learning climate, and promoting professionalism and ethics. All of our graduates learn about group process …”  


There is a magnetism and energy about the way Judith trains that infects others with her delight and fascination with the space between people. Dr Satterfield and many others attest to the power of her interventions in creating models for therapeutic interpersonal change. Susan Walker, PhD, CGP and AGPA member, took two years to train with Judith long after she was a senior colleague.  She wrote, “I cannot say enough about how this didactic and experiential externship with has shaped my work with the many clients I have worked with during the past 8 years.  Working with Judith gave me the ‘boost’ I was looking for and has also affected the system I work within at the university.  As time passed, my colleagues at CAPS who co-led with me and attended my commented positively about changes they noted in my co-leading and teaching style. Additionally, I have, by request, provided workshops on group therapy at other universities and have received excellent feedback from attendees.  I have also presented on group therapy at AGPA and I know my work with Judith and my attendance at many of her AGPA presentations has had a positive effect on my own presentations. It is wonderful how the influence of a good supervisor is passed on to the many individuals the supervisee will work with in the future.”  


Enclosed is a summary of Judith’s publications and training activities, her CV, a narrative description of her work at Penn and multiple letters of support and appreciation from former trainees, supervisees and colleagues. This compilation of accomplishments tells the tale of a pioneer in women's rights in the field of group psychotherapy,  the author of a highly respected model of group treatment, and the brain behind a respected group therapy  training program for Psychiatric residents. 

 Please feel free to contact me if anything is unclear or you need additional information.

Judith has made an outstanding contribution to group psychotherapy education and training throughout her half century long career as a clinician, educator and academic author writer of over 40 invited journal articles and chapters as well as three academic books. She and has contributed to elevating the standards of group psychotherapy practice with special focus on raising the attention to female colleagues and educating many of us at AGPA in the relationship between work with individuals and couples in group therapy.  in a meaningful way.I believe Judith Coché is an outstanding candidate and hope she is the 2019 recipient of the Harold S. Bernard Group Psychotherapy Training Award.

Thank you for your consideration of this nomination.


Shari Baron, MSN, FAGPA, RN, CNS, CGP 

Private Practice, Media, Pennsylvania

Clinical Associate, Department of Psychiatry 

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine 

Board Member, AGPA