Group Counseling

What is Group Counseling?

CAPS offers group therapy for students, which is often more effective than individual therapy for certain issues. For many emotional and relationship concerns that college students face, group is the best treatment choice. Groups may be focused on specific themes and needed skills for coping with issues such as anxiety/depression, grief, or body image. Others are more general counseling groups which assist individuals in resolving a broad range of personal issues, including setting appropriate boundaries, challenges with communicating, self-esteem difficulties, and relationship problems. Many times, group can be more helpful than individual counseling because it is an opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, encouragement, and feedback from other individuals in a safe and confidential environment. Group sessions are facilitated by one or two therapists and provide an opportunity for you to meet with other students who share similar challenges and interests. In most cases, potential group members need to schedule a 30-60 minute session with the group leader to get more information and answer a few questions to ensure the group is a good fit. Group size is generally between 6-10 students and will meet weekly lasting approximately 60-90 minutes.

How does group therapy work?

Group therapy is a potent treatment strategy. Through the sharing process, members can develop a level of trust that allows them to be honest, open with one another, and accepting towards each other.  With the therapist's guidance this process creates a powerful tool for growth, self-awareness, and change. For most of us, many of our day to day relationships may be constrained by social conventions that prohibit directness, honesty, and "real" interactions. We want to know what people really think and maybe want to share our own thoughts and feelings but "something" inhibits this genuine interaction. When people learn to interact freely with other group members, interpersonal patterns arise and self-awareness develops, members experiment with new communication strategies or coping skills, and individuals gain compassion for themselves and others. Additionally, many students feel that they are somehow weird or "wrong" because of their feelings or problems. As a group member, it can be encouraging to hear that other students have similar difficulties and are learning or have found ways to cope.  Students who have attended groups usually comment on their surprise at how much they enjoyed and benefited from their experience.

What to expect from group therapy?

Before attending the group, you will be scheduled for a pre-group intake with the group leader. This meeting is focused both on the types of problems you are experiencing and a description of the particular group. If both parties decide that the group is a good match, the clinician provides information about meeting times. The first sessions usually focus on the establishment of trust. Everything that is discussed in counseling groups is considered confidential. It is not to be discussed outside the group, even with other group individuals.  Group therapist(s) and members work towards establishing a level of trust that allows them to communicate openly and honestly. Members are encouraged to give support and feedback to others, and to work with the reactions and responses that other members' contributions bring up for them. Unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties and distress in life.  Sharing your thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment is an important part of group therapy and strongly affects how much you will be helped.


How much do I have to share in group?
Answer: Unexpressed feelings are a major reason why people experience difficulties and distress in life.  Sharing your thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment is an important part of group therapy and strongly affects how much you will be helped. Group leaders will encourage members to share their difficulties and distress but each member of the group gets to decide how much they share with the group.  Most members are worried about sharing in group initially and it might take a little time for them to feel okay about talking, but usually they eventually start sharing in group even though they are uncomfortable.

I am scared to talk to people in groups is this common for group members?
Answer: Most group members express this concern before joining the group. It can be very scary to talk to people you don't know about your problems. Many group members state that although they initially feared talking, within a few sessions, they felt more and more comfortable talking. By the end of the group many members share that they feel much more comfortable talking within the group than when they started. Most students report how much they enjoyed the experience of listening to others and knowing that others were listening to them.

How can I be helped in a group if everyone's problems are different?
Answer: Each individual is unique as are their struggles. Still, as people we have a great deal in common. We all react to hurt in similar ways. We all have the same basic capacity to grow and change. The root causes of our problems in living have to do with patterns and habits that we have learned during our formative years that are not working well in our current life circumstances or are holding us back. Group provides a safe and powerful space to experience, understand, and change these habits and patterns.

For those interested in joining any of these groups, please call CAPS at 301.687.4234

Check back later for Spring 2023 Group Options