Group Counseling at Counseling and Wellness Services
For many emotional and relationship concerns that college students face, group therapy is the best treatment choice. It provides students with the unique opportunity of utilizing peer interaction to work toward improving themselves. At CWS, we offer a wide array of groups to address the various needs of WSU students. Although many students are initially hesitant to join a group, participants consistently find group therapy to be a very beneficial and positive experience.
New groups form each quarter and are typically limited to 8-10 members. Groups meet on a weekly basis and run for the length of the quarter; often times members decide to participate in group for more than one quarter.
Before joining a group at CWS, you must complete an intake during our walk-in hours. At that time, you can request to be referred to a particular group and, if appropriate, you will be scheduled to meet with group leaders for a group information/screening.
Participation in all groups is free and the importance of confidentiality is emphasized.
If you have any questions about our groups, please contact the Coordinator for Group Services, at (937) 775-3407.
Click here for current CWS group descriptions and schedule.
Common Fears & Misperceptions about Group Therapy
“Do I have to reveal all my deepest secrets and feelings to the group?"
No, you don't have to do that! You decide how much you want to share and no one can force you to reveal your secrets or feelings. Most group members tend to share more about themselves when they feel safe in the group. While we recognize that sharing can sometimes be uncomfortable, we also know that many members report getting more out of group when they decide to share more personal aspects of themselves. We encourage you to be aware of your pace for group involvement and to share when you feel comfortable doing so.
Figuring out how to get your needs met in group is a very common concern among members. If you find yourself needing more time in the group, we recommend that you bring it up within the group. Group is an excellent place to work on assertiveness!
Most people are anxious about being able to talk in group. Almost without exception, within a few sessions people find that they do begin to talk in the group. Group members remember what it is like to be new to the group, so you will most likely get a lot of support for beginning to talk in the group.
That's really ok. It's normal that some members will talk less than others in the group. You can tell the group that you're shy. We encourage group members to be respectful of individual differences. You can take your time to open up to the group.
Actually, group therapy is often more efficient than individual therapy for two reasons. First, you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little but listen carefully to others. You will find that you have much in common with other group members, and as they work on a concern, you can learn more about yourself. Secondly, group members will often bring up issues that strike a chord with you, but that you might not have been aware of or brought up yourself.
It is very important that group members feel safe. A primary role of group leaders is to create a safe, trusting environment. Feedback can initially be difficult to hear, so group leaders assist members in first delivering positive feedback to one another. As group members come to trust and accept each other, they generally experience feedback and even confrontation as a sign of caring. One of the benefits of group therapy is the opportunity to receive feedback from others in a supportive environment. It is rare to find friends who will gently point out how you might be behaving in ways that hurt yourself or others, but this is precisely what group can offer. This will be done in a respectful, gentle way, so that you can hear it and make use of it.
How can group counseling be as effective as individual counseling? I'm concerned I'll "lose out."
Most students are pleasantly surprised at how much they gain from participating in group. Unlike individual therapy, group therapy provides invaluable opportunities for you to connect with others who often have similar problems, practice new interpersonal skills in a group context, and gain multiple perspectives on your concerns from different group members.
Groups at CWS vary significantly in session format. Some groups are structured or semi-structured; these groups are somewhat similar to experiential workshops in that most group sessions focus on a particular topic. Each session usually consists of brief lectures by the group leaders, group discussions, and experiential activities.
CWS also offers a number of groups that are typically much less structured. There isn't a specific topic for each group session. Members are welcome to bring any issues to the group that they feel are important, and the primary focus of therapy in the group is on the interactions among group members. This occurs as members give each other feedback on their interpersonal styles and identify ways in which they feel more connected to one another. Please click on this link to read more about the different groups offered at CWS.
What if a member of the group is my friend or classmate?
We recognize that it might be awkward to be in the same group with a friend/classmate. Please let group leaders know immediately if you have an existing relationship with someone else in the group. If that happens, the group leaders, in consultation with the group members, will decide how best to resolve this situation. It may work out to have both of you stay in the same group, or it may be best to have one of you find a different group to join. In the latter case, leaders will work with you or your friend/classmate and do our best to find another appropriate group that matches your needs and schedule.
Yes, it's possible to leave the group if you're uncomfortable with it. We know that group is often uncomfortable at the beginning - if you feel this way, you are not alone! We also know that group members report feeling more comfortable after a few sessions, so most group leaders encourage their members to remain in the group for at least 3 sessions before they decide to leave. If you do decide to leave the group after attending the first few sessions, most leaders ask that you come to the group once more to say goodbye to other members.
How many people are in a typical group?
Most groups have between 6 -10 students and 2 group leaders.
Only WSU students are eligible to join our groups. Students who join our groups do so with different needs and concerns. In our structured groups, group members usually identify with a specific concern related to the group theme. For example, members who join the Anger Management Group usually identify with the theme of difficulties with anger and learning new skills to manage anger. Our Understanding Self & Others groups are made up of members with a variety of concerns, including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, difficulties with trust, and self-esteem issues.
Group leaders perform slightly different functions in the various groups. However, some common functions of group leaders is to guide and facilitate self-exploration, give feedback and support, provide comments on interpersonal issues in the group, and encourage group cohesion. You might find that group leaders are initially more active in this role, and then later in the group, group members take on more of these functions.
Most groups last 8-10 weeks. All groups are typically offered each term with some groups continuing in the Summer term. You will be informed of your group's duration at the group information/screening session.