What is Group Counseling?
Group counseling can be a very helpful and powerful tool in addressing student concerns. A group offers an environment where students can increase self-understanding, enhance personal relationships, and try out new behaviors while receiving feedback and support from professionals and peers.
Click: Group Counseling for a short video that may help to answer some of the questions that you have about group counseling. See below for Frequently asked questions regarding Group Counseling.
Spring 2019 Groups:
Group Counseling Frequently Asked Questions
I'm used to receiving individual therapy. Is group counseling effective?
- Absolutely! In fact, research suggests that group counseling is just as effective and (in some cases) even MORE effective than individual counseling! Let's face it: We live in a social world. Group counseling takes advantage of the power of social connection while helping you to learn new skills and gain support.
What do I talk about in group counseling?
- Anything! If it's bothering you, the group wants to hear about it!
- Common topics of discussion include (but are not limited to): managing depression and anxiety, navigating social, familial, or romantic relationships, coping with everyday stressors (e.g., school and work), improving low self-esteem, decreasing feelings of isolation and loneliness, working through past traumas, and coping with socio-political stress.
I'm afraid that I'll be the only person in the group experiencing a particular problem. No one will understand me.
- This is a common fear that many people have before joining a group. However, a majority of members are surprised to find that they are not alone in their struggles and experiences. Hearing how others are coping with challenged can help you feel more optimistic about addressing your own concerns.
How many people will be in my group?
- Groups generally consist of 4-12 members and 2 group leaders.
I'm nervous about beginning group. Am I going to be forced to talk?
- It is not uncommon to feel nervous about opening up to new people. In fact, most members will feel some level of anxiety during their first few group meetings! While group leaders will never force you to talk if you're feeling too uncomfortable, students tend to get more out of their group experience if they openly discuss their concerns.
I'm a private person. Do I have to tell my deepest secrets to this group?
- Not at all. You are in control of the information that you decide to share with the group. However, the more your share, the more you get out of group!
If I do open up in group, won't every share my private information?
- The leaders of the group are bound by professional and ethical rules to keep your information confidential. There are a few exceptions to confidentiality, which will be discussed during your initial screening appointment and pre-group meeting.
- While we recognize that group members are not bound by the same profession and ethical rules that therapists are, co-leaders do a good job of emphasizing the importance of maintaining all members' privacy throughout the group experience.
What if someone I know (i.e., a friend or roommate) in my group?
- We understand that this can make group participation feel awkward and uncomfortable. If you do have a close relationship with someone else in the group, please let one of the group leaders know. We'll do our best to figure out a compromise that works for everyone involved. For example, we may have you or the other person join a different group.
- Similarly, if you and someone you know are both planning to join a therapy group, it is recommended that you join different groups. Even though having a friend in the group may make you feel more comfortable initially, you may find that you avoid talking about certain topics because the other person is in the room. This may negatively impact your (and your companion's) ability to make progress towards your goals. Therefore, it is usually in everyone's best interest for you and your companion to join different groups.
- Some support groups (e.g., Sister to Sister, LGBT Support, and Graduate Student Support) have different rules when it comes to knowing other group members. Please consult wtih the group leaders if you have any questions.
How do I join a group?
- Visit the Counseling Center, and ask about the group of your choice during your screening appointment. If the therapist at the screening appointment also feels like group is a good way to address your concerns, they will help you schedule a pre-group meeting with the group leaders.
What happens during the pre-group meeting?
- This meeing will give you time to get to know the group leaders and learn specific information about the group. Feel free to ask questions or bring up any concerns that you may have. The group leaders will do their best to help you feel as comfortable as possible before you start group.
I still have questions about group counseling. Who can I talk to?
- You can contact the Group/Workshop Coordinator, Dr. Danielle Sirles, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember that e-mail is not an appropriate medium for counseling, nor can privacy/confidentiality be guaranteed through electronic communication.
Sam Houston Counseling Center
Box 2059 | Huntsville, TX 77341-2059 | Phone: 936.294.1720 | Fax: 936.294.2639