Group counseling can be helpful by replicating the ways you interact in your everyday life. Groups are able to provide support, offer alternatives or gently confront group members in such a way that difficulties can be resolved and new behaviors learned. Often, people in group counseling began to feel less isolated in dealing with their problems. It can be very encouraging to hear that others have worked through similar problems.
Common questions that students have about group counseling:
One of the greatest benefits of group counseling is that it can replicate the ways you interact in your every day life. Group members and facilitators can give feedback about how they perceive you and offer alternative ways of behaving in order to help you interact more productively. Groups are able to provide support, offer alternatives, or gently confront members in such a way that difficulties can be resolves and new behaviors learned. Often people in group counseling begin to feel less isolated in dealing with their problems.
If you're interested in possibly joining a group, contact the Wellness Center. A Wellness Assistant will schedule you for a brief same-day appointment to discuss your struggles with a clinician. From there, the clinician will discuss options for treatment.
Group counseling includes 3-8 students, meeting with 1-2 trained clinicians.
Group members talk about a variety of issues including exploring relationships, improving self-esteem and enhancing coping skills. Group members share information about themselves and provide feedback to others while group leaders facilitate productive communication in the group. Problems discussed in group counseling are wide ranging. These problems include, but are not limited to, social anxiety, problems in maintaining intimate relationships, general anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and difficulties with grief or loss.
Group counseling is helpful for almost all individuals and is the treatment of choice for a number of concerns. There is evidence for the effectiveness of group treatment for the following issues:
People who participate in group counseling benefit in many ways. You will develop your own personal goals but below are typical goals and outcomes of group counseling.
Letting the group know why you initially came to UMLCS and sharing what you hope to gain from the group is a good place to start. If you need support, let the group know. If you think you need to be challenged, let the group know that too. It is sometimes helpful to think o the group as a laboratory in which you can experiment with new ways of thinking, feeling and relating to others. Coming to group with a willingness to talk about your feelings will increase the gains you can get from group. Unexpressed feelings are a major reason that people experience difficulties. We have found that the people who benefit the most from group take responsibility for making the group work by sharing their concerns and speaking up when they have reactions to issues or to other individuals in the group.
Groups are private and confidential. that is, what member disclose in sessions is not shared outside of the group. The meaning and importance of confidentiality are reviewed with group members at the first meeting and every time a new member joins the group. Group members are asked to make a commitment to protect each other's confidentiality by agreeing to not divulge information that would identify other members outside of group.
Each group usually finds its own way of negotiating how group time is used. Typically a group will begin with a "check-in" so that group members have an opportunity to summarize how they're doing and/or request speaking time during that session. We have found that group members who are able to request time as needed are most likely to benefit from group. Group members can also benefit from hearing other people work through and discuss their issues.
When you meet people for the first time, it's hard to know what to say and how much to trust. Trust is a process that develops over time as group members take risks and share about themselves. It helps to remember that groups are usually small (4-8 people) and that other group members may be struggling with some of the same concerns as you are. Letting the group know that you're uncomfortable can be a first step. What is asked is that you make a commitment to being in the group and that you be willing to open up as you feel comfortable.
Group facilitators have expertise in group counseling. The role of the group facilitator is to facilitate productive, respectful communication within the group. To do this, they will encourage group members to interact with one another. Group facilitators may point out common themes, give feedback to individuals or the group as a whole, or offer support or challenge as needed. They also try to provide enough structure so that the group doesn't get stuck, but enough freedom so the group accepts responsibility for itself. The facilitators respect the confidentiality of the group and make every effort to create a safe environment.
Groups meet weekly. Each group is scheduled for a particular day of the week and time of day that is set for the duration of the group. Typically, group sessions last for 90 minutes, about 8 - 14 weeks per semester.
There is no limit on group sessions. We hope you will utilize our group program as much as you would need.
We ask that you commit to attending at least four sessions to give the group counseling experience a change and time to help you. Discuss your concern with the facilitator(s) of the group. If you continue to feel that your needs are not met, we can work with you to discuss other options.
Content adapted with permission from The University of Iowa Counseling Service.