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Group Counseling - FAQs

How do I join a therapy group?

Members of counseling groups are usually referred by a counselor. If you are interested in participating in a group, talk with your counselor about the feasibility of joining a group. Usually the counselor will try to introduce you to the group leader/s before you first attend. Some leaders like to meet individually with perspective group member for about 30 minutes to mutually determine if the group is a good match for the student’s needs and goals before they join the group. Prospective members are asked to fill out a Group Placement Form. If you have not been to the center before you will need to complete the paperwork required of all new clients and meet with an intake counselor.

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Isn’t individual therapy better than group therapy?

Research has demonstrated that almost any concern that brings you in for counseling can be dealt with in group therapy as well or even better than it can in individual therapy. Still, group therapy isn’t for everyone and counselors pay careful attention to your circumstances in making suggestions about any of our services: group therapy, individual therapy, couples counseling, or our workshops. Our goal is to provide you with the help that will best meet your goals.

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I’m already anxious about talking to a counselor, why would I share personal information with other students?

We have found that group members usually feel greatly supported by their peers and often share similar feelings about their own experiences. As in any therapy, no one has to share anything they do not want to share. Part of being in a group is learning about the relationships between people and how you want to manage them. Anxiety is a normal reaction to being in a group of people, something group leaders help group members work through. The process of talking about these normal fears typically creates a greater sense of comfort and trust among group members.

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Why would I choose to be in a group rather than in individual therapy?

Many students who have used group therapy report it is a safe setting to explore their concerns and that it has been immensely helpful to them. Group members often are relieved to discover that the concerns they brought to counseling are shared by others and feel supported both by those who share their concerns and those who don’t. All the therapy groups at the Counseling Center facilitate personal change by inviting self-exploration, providing opportunities to give and receive feedback, and providing information about your concerns. An additional benefit is that groups typically meet weekly and because of limited resources the Counseling Center usually cannot provide individual therapy that often.

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What are the drawbacks to group therapy?

In terms of efficacy there are no significant drawbacks to group therapy when compared to individual therapy. However, there are some differences that are important to be aware of. Members often feel more vulnerable at first in a group setting than they do in individual therapy. Typically this passes as the group works together. No individual is the focus of attention all the time, which is different than in individual therapy (and sometimes a relief). Perhaps the greatest difference is that group members are not bound by the same legal / ethical rules that therapists are, so confidentiality cannot be assured. All members agree not to share information about other group members with anyone else. We are not aware of any problems regarding confidentiality in the many years groups have been held on this campus.

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