- What is Counseling?
- Group Counseling
- Individual Counseling
- Couples Counseling
- Psychiatric Consultations
- Privacy Practices
- Psychology Internship
- Psychology Doctoral Practicum
- Master's Counseling Practicum
- Clinical GSA Practicum
When students schedule their first counseling intake appointment, group counseling may be proposed as a form of treatment to help resolve presenting issues. As students prepare to join a group, they may have a number of questions. We hope the following will answer some of those questions. Most of our groups are interpersonal process groups, which are designed to help students resolve difficulties in relationships. A few of our groups are more specific in nature. Examples include: Understanding Me, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Been There Done That, and The Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) group. For an updated group list and a brief description, please click here.
Group therapy is recommended to a student when it's the best way to address presenting concerns. Group Counseling is frequently the treatment of choice for college students; in many ways, group therapy is the very best of what we have to offer. Although group counseling is in a different format, group members' confidentiality is maintained.
What is group counseling all about?
Group counseling brings together a small number of individuals (usually 4-8) with one or more trained group leaders. Group members share what is troubling them. The process of sharing with each other, listening to each other, giving and receiving feedback, offering support and expressing their feelings about what someone else says or does can be extremely helpful. This interaction encourages individuals to develop new ways of behaving and learning more about how they interact with others. What is talked about in group is confidential and not discussed with anyone outside of group sessions.
How does group counseling work?
While participating in group counseling, people begin to see that they are not alone; that others share similar concerns and difficulties in life. Under the direction of skilled group leaders, group members learn to give support, offer alternatives, or gently confront group members. Through group interactions and group feedback, new insights are gained, alternative behaviors or thoughts are explored, and new ways of relating to others can be tried. As a result, the original difficulties people brought to group become resolved.
What do I talk about when I am in group counseling?
Talk about what brought you to the counseling center. Let other group members know what is bothering you and what your goals are. If you need support, let the group know. If you think you need confrontation, let them know that too. It is important to tell the group what you expect of them and what you need from them. Unexpressed feelings or thoughts are a major reason why people experience difficulties. The most appropriate disclosures will be those that relate directly to your present difficulty. It is important that you feel comfortable with your level of self-disclosure.
When & how often does group meet?
Groups meet once a week for 90 minutes. Groups are usually held almost daily in the morning or afternoon to accommodate student schedules.
Can I do both group & individual counseling at the same time?
You will be doing group therapy once a week and will still be meeting with a clinician once every three or four weeks to do a follow-up session. We believe this approach helps you fully focus your energies on making the most of group, and tends to maximize your therapeutic gain.
How long can I stay in group?
You can stay in group as long as you and the group leaders feel it is beneficial for you. Some members stay for a semester, while others stay for a year.
How do I know which group is right for me?
The Counseling Center offers different types of counseling groups. Choosing a group may be difficult and is best done by discussing your needs with a UCC counselor. A counselor can help you consider what kind of group environment fits both your personality and your specific counseling needs.
For a list of groups available, click here.
How do I join a group?
Call the University Counseling Center, schedule an initial appointment, and let your counselor know you're interested in group counseling. Hours of Operation: MONDAY- FRIDAY 8:00AM – 4:30PM
CALL: (701) 777-2127
What are the ground rules for the group to be effective?
If group is to be effective, your commitment to the following is essential:
- If you are going to miss a session, please let one of the leaders of the group know.The group meeting times have been set by the group leaders, and you are asked to adhere to those times.
- The way we most respect ourselves and others is by experiencing feelings and then allowing ourselves to talk about them. Expressing one's feelings is different than acting out because of one's feelings. Acting out your feelings is not acceptable whether you act them out upon yourself or another member of the group.
- It is your responsibility to talk about your reasons for being in the group.
- The group sessions are confidential.
- If you decide that you have gained as much as possible from the group or that it isn't the most appropriate treatment method for you, we ask that you come to the group and say good-bye.
- The work of the group needs to be done in the group during group time. Therefore, we ask that you not socialize with other members of your group during the time when you are a member of that group.
We hope the group experience is a good one for you.
Common Misperceptions about Group Counseling
"I have so much trouble talking to people; I'll never be able to share in a group."
Most people are initially anxious about talking in group. Almost without exception, within a few sessions, new members find that the group process draws them in and they begin to share with the group in ways they never anticipated.
"I will be pressured to tell all of my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets to the group."
You control what, how much, and when you share with the group. We encourage you not to share what you are not ready to disclose. Many group members find that when the group feels safe enough to share what they are most apprehensive about, the group can be very helpful and affirming. At the same time, you can also be helped by listening to others and thinking about how their thoughts might apply to you.
"Group counseling will take longer than individual counseling because I will have to share the time with others.
Group counseling 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 you might not have been aware of, or brought up by yourself. Therefore, learning from others can be a powerful therapeutic experience and often enhances the work.
"I will be judged, criticized, or verbally attacked by the leaders and by other group members.
It is very important that group members feel safe. Group leaders are there to create a safe environment for all involved. We understand that feedback is often difficult to hear, from leaders and members alike. As group members come to trust the group, they generally experience feedback, and even confrontation – as if it were coming from a good friend. 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.
"Group counseling is second-best to individual counseling."
Group counseling is being recommended to you because your intake counselor believes that it is the best way to address your concerns. We do not put people into group counseling because we don't have space in individual therapy, or because we want to save time. We recommend group when it is the most effective method to help you. Your intake counselor can discuss with you why group is what we recommend for you.
*Thanks to the Virginia Commonwealth University Counseling Services for allowing us to incorporate their text into this page.