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Group Counseling

So what is group counseling?

It's a group of 5 to 8 members who get together weekly for a 1 ½ hour meeting, and talk about any one of a number of topics. The group members and their various concerns generate the issues discussed. The group and its discussion are guided and facilitated by a trained group leader. Some groups focused on a specific theme, some are more general; some are time-limited, some are open-ended. Group members all agree to keep the names of other members and the content of group discussions STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.

How can group counseling help me?

Although we all generally know ourselves pretty well, there are often things about us that we can't see very easily by ourselves - ways that we may contribute to our own problems without realizing it. Group counseling provides a specialized setting in which members can learn about themselves and how they feel and act in relation to others. This is a different sort of opportunity than people usually get with their family and friends, in part because there is a trained professional working with you to help you understand things in a new light. Group counseling also provides members with the chance to experiment with new attitudes and ways of coping with problems, and simultaneously receive support and honest feedback from peers. Finally, people very often feel isolated by the idea that others cannot understand or accept them; group counseling can help with breaking out of that isolation. It's surprising how much we all really have in common as people, and how much good we can get from that feeling of being really understood.

How much do I have to talk about myself?

People often think that in a counseling group they will be forced to reveal their deepest, darkest secrets. This is not so. In a counseling group, how much you talk about yourself depends on what you are comfortable with. You are the person who ultimately decides how much to share of yourself. The group leader will, however, encourage you to talk about what brought you to counseling in the first place and your feelings and reactions to other group members, family, friends and life in general. As with most things, the more you put into the group, the more help you are likely to get out of it.

Please also remember that the group leader is aware that many people are uncomfortable with the idea of talking about themselves with a group of people they may not know that well. Part of the group leader's job is to create an environment that's safe and supportive, so that you are better able to take chances and confront issues that may make you feel anxious at first but may also ultimately provide you with the most benefit.

What are the ground rules?

1. Group is confidential. Group members agree not to discuss other members' names or content of group discussions outside of the group meetings.
2. If you must miss a meeting, let the group leader know at least 24 hours in advance.
3. Give the group experience a real chance. Most new experiences make all of us somewhat nervous. Group members agree to attend at least three meetings before deciding whether to stop attending or continue.
4. If you decide that you've gotten as much as you can from the group, or that group counseling just isn't right for you at this time, we ask that you come to the group to say goodbye and let the other members know that you won't be continuing with them.

What kind of problems can group counseling help me with?

Mostly the same sorts of problems that individual counseling can help you with:

  • Relationship problems with friends/family
  • Self-assertiveness
  • Feeling isolated
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Mild-to-moderate depression
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling without focus or direction
  • Coping with stress
  • Dealing with others' expectations of you or your expectations of yourself
  • Many others

Talk with a staff member at the counseling center and they will help you figure out if group or individual counseling would be better for you.

What else do I need to know?

We offer a few different types of groups each semester. These include - either in the past or currently - a group for dealing with anxiety and stress management, a group looking specifically at men's issues, and a general group for addressing a broad range of members' needs.

Call us up at 323-5155 or just drop in (we're on the first floor of Founder's Hall) to find out about what groups we're currently offering and ask us any questions about whether a group might be helpful for you.