Student Counseling Services (SCS) offers group therapy as a treatment option to patients. Group therapy can benefit anyone from any background or with any type of concern, including depression, anxiety, trauma, sexual assault, eating disorders, self-injury and other struggles.
“We actually think about group and individual therapy as both being very beneficial and important,” said Kacey Wilson, a senior staff clinician and the groups coordinator at SCS. “For some types of issues or concerns, group is actually a treatment of choice.”
There are rules group members must abide by. Some rules include not socializing or contacting other group members outside of the group, respecting others during group and not disclosing what happens in group to anybody outside of the group.
“That’s a very important part of keeping it a safe environment for everybody,” said Wilson.
Group members must sign a confidentiality form agreeing to the rules.
“The most fundamental rule is maintaining the privacy and confidentiality,” said Wilson.
A maximum of eight students form a group, and most groups have one or two leaders. Groups are kept small in order to remain effective and therapeutic. About 50 students participate in group therapy at SCS.
Groups are held five days week and are led by senior staff clinicians and masters and doctorate students. There are eight groups held each week, four of which are “Understanding Self and Others.”
The “Understanding Self and Others” groups are considered the general process groups. The general process groups are made up of a variety of people that have various concerns. The general process groups do not have a particular theme, and Wilson said they are effective for treating all types of problems, struggles and issues people have.
“Some people come to group and stay in group because the find it to be a really powerful, enriching experience,” said Wilson. “It’s a growth experience. “
The “Women’s Body Image” group focuses on promoting healthy body image and healthy eating behaviors. It is also more structured than the general process groups.
The “Non-Traditional Student” group is comprised of students not in the average age range of students. Wilson said they are often best served in a group with people their age. The “Graduate Student” group focuses on the concerns graduate students are more likely to have than graduate students.
The group working to treat eating disorders has been unable to get enough members to remain running. Wilson said that the body image group can help these students. However, this addressed the more severe concerns. Wilson also said the group is something SCS wants to offer women if they can get enough participants.
Christina Spragg, a graduate student working at SCS, put together a “Mindfulness” group. The group focused on the mind and body connection. Wilson said mindfulness can be especially helpful for students struggling with anxiety and depression.
“It’s a really powerful way to learn how to quiet your mind, gain a little more sense of mastery and control over your thought process and how those effect your emotions,” Wilson said.
The group focused on guided imagery, meditation and relaxation and breathing techniques.
Kristy Malone, a graduate student in marriage and family studies at SCS, is working on a group called “Authentic Happiness.” The group will utilize the principle of positive psychology. Wilson said the group aims to help people better understand what it means to be authentically happy and how they can achieve it. The group will begin in Summer 2010.
“I really hope that students recognize that therapy can be beneficial for everybody, and just because you come into the counseling center does not mean there is something wrong with you, or that you’re weak in any sense or capacity,” Wilson said.
Wilson also said she wants students to know SCS is a safe place to come where confidential services are provided.
“We are absolutely committed to maintaining student privacy and that it’s a place where you can come a focus on growing,” Wilson said.
To become involved in a group, contact SCS and make an appointment. Students will first do an intake appointment with an individual counselor, where they discuss what concerns they have. The counselor then will decide if group is an appropriate treatment, and if so, place the student in the appropriate group.
Wilson stressed the value of therapy and her desire to eradicate the stigma attached to seeking help.
“I know there is quite a stigma, unfortunately, still about people seeking services, but it’s a way to grow and to become a fuller human being in lots of ways. “
“[Seeking help] doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you at all, or that you’re not a strong person,” Wilson said. “Actually, it means just the opposite often times.”