At various times, Counseling Services will offer therapy groups for specific student populations. Therapy groups are comprised of 6-10 students and one group facilitator. In general, groups will run for 8-10 weeks within a semester and will meet for 1.5 hours each week. Students interested in joining one of the groups must do so before the start date of the group. Groups will be CLOSED to new members after the start date. If you do not join in time or the group is full, you will have the option to be put on the list to join the group during the following semester.
In order to join a therapy group, students must first complete a pre-group interview and some intake material. Please stop by CAPS (264 UCEN) or call 810-762-3456 to schedule an appointment. During the intake appointment, the counselor and student will discuss whether group is the best treatment option and the counselor will explain how group therapy works. Students will be asked to commit to attending the group for its entire duration. There is no charge to attend. Space is limited to 12 participants.
Frequently Asked Questions and Common Misperceptions about Group Therapy
1. Is group therapy effective?
Group therapy has proven effective in helping young adults deal with a broad range of issues from mild adjustment and developmental concerns to severe or chronic mental health concerns. Also, several studies have found no significant efficacy differences between group and individual therapy. Thus, group therapy is effective and comparable in efficacy to other treatment modalities (Barlow et al., 2004; Brabender, 2002; Mc Roberts et al.).
2. Why do people join group therapy?
Most often people join group therapy because they are having difficulties in their relationships or have something in their lives that they are finding painful and difficult to handle. Some examples of the types of interpersonal issues that students bring to group are: Discomfort in social situations, lack of intimacy in relationships, anxiety, depression, family of origin problems, and frequent arguments with others. For many, group is the most effective method for addressing their concerns.
3. How does group therapy work?
Group members discuss issues that are of concern to them and offer each other support and feedback. Group therapy works because members behave in the group in ways that reflect how they behave outside of the group. The difference is that group members and leaders can help each other change behaviors by giving feedback about how they perceive each other and by offering suggestions for alternative ways of acting. Group is also a safe place to try out or practice some of these new options with people who are caring and encouraging.
4. Is group therapy confidential?
Your group leaders will not divulge any information about you outside of the Student Development Center, including whether or not you are a client. Before each new member joins group, the group leaders conduct an orientation in which confidentiality is discussed. Group members must agree to keep the identity of other members private and not to divulge any information discussed during the group to outsiders.
Confidentiality Exceptions: In rare situations, the group leaders may find it necessary to violate confidentiality. Please feel free to talk with your group leaders about confidentiality exceptions. The Counseling Services staff work in accordance with the established code of ethics of the American Psychological Association.
Confidentiality is assured except for the following situations:
- You may authorize the Counseling and Career Development Center to release records or other information to individuals of your choosing. This may be done only with your expressed written consent.
- Under ethical and legal requirements, your group leaders may break confidentiality in the event of clear and imminent danger to yourself or another person.
- The law requires that therapists disclose information regarding child or elder abuse or neglect.
- In certain legal proceedings, confidential information may be disclosed by court order. This is a rare occurrence and would not happen without your knowledge.
5. How do I get the most out of group therapy?
Most people are apprehensive about joining a group and experience some anxiety about doing so. Some people worry that they will talk too much or not enough, or that they will not be accepted by others in the group. There are some things students can do so that group therapy will be more meaningful and healing for them:
♦ The more you participate and commit to the group, the more likely it is that you will benefit from it.
♦ Think about what you would like to work on in group and work actively towards change.
♦ Express your thoughts and feelings. Being genuine will allow others to help you more directly.
♦ Give others feedback.
♦ Be patient with yourself and the group. It will take time for you to feel comfortable in the group and for the group to develop trust.
♦ Try new behaviors in the group and ask for feedback from others when you do so.
6. How long can I stay in group?
You can stay in group for as long as you and the group leader feel it is beneficial for you. Some students stay in group for a semester and some continue for a year or more.
"I will be too self-conscious or nervous to share in a group setting."
Most individuals feel some anxiety when first starting group. Group leaders are trained to help initiate conversation and to discuss whatever anxiety the group may be feeling. Most new members find that the group process quickly draws them in and they begin sharing in ways they had not expected.
"I will be pressed to share my deepest thoughts and feelings."
Just like in individual therapy, you will decide how much and what to share. Group members and leaders may invite you to share or inquire about your fears concerning sharing, but will respect your decision not to share. As the group continues to build safety and familiarity, most members find they are ready to share and that the group is affirming and supportive.
"I will be judged or criticized by other group members."
Group leaders strive to make the group environment safe for all members. We understand that feedback from others may at times be difficult to hear. A benefit of group therapy is receiving feedback from others who are trying to help, while also having a group leader present to facilitate the dialogue. Group may be one of the only places in which you can receive honest and supportive feedback about how you might be behaving in ways that are hurtful to yourself or others. Group leaders will help members give feedback in a way that is respectful, so that you can hear and make use of it.
"Group therapy will take longer because I have to share time with other groups members."
Group therapy is typically just as effective as individual therapy for various reasons. First, group meets every week for 1.5 hours, while individual therapy is typically bi-weekly for forty-five minutes. Second, most members identify with issues other members share and find they are helping themselves just by being present and processing the issues vicariously. Third, by listening, giving feedback, and engaging other group members about their concerns, you may also be practicing new ways of interacting. Fourth, group therapy offers the opportunity to get multiple perspectives and increased support from peers.
"Group therapy is not as good as individual counseling."
Group therapy is just as effective as individual therapy (Barlow et al., 2004), and will be recommended if your counselor thinks it will be the most helpful method to address your concerns. In fact, group often helps in ways that individual therapy cannot. For example, unlike individual therapy, group allows the therapist to see you interacting with other members, to give you feedback in the moment, and to help you practice new skills.