Group Counseling FAQs

What is group therapy?

UMCC offers general therapy groups for students.  General therapy groups are comprised of 6-10 students and two professional group facilitators.  Groups meet between 60 to 90 minutes each week.  In order to join a therapy group, students must first attend a brief assessment with UMCC or be referred to a group by their current therapist. The group facilitator(s) will then meet with any referred students to assess whether group is an appropriate treatment option, and the counselor will explain how group therapy works.

What is a workshop/skill based groups?

The UMCC also offers a number of workshop/skilled based groups. These groups have a similar composition as a therapy group and may meet for 60 to 90 minutes. The main difference from therapy groups is that these groups are more focused in nature, such as an anxiety management workshop. These groups run for 6-8 weeks and intended to teach specific skill sets. In order to join a skill based group, students must first attend a brief assessment with UMCC or be referred to a group by their current therapist.  During the brief assessment, the counselor and student will assess whether group is the best treatment option and the counselor will explain how group therapy works.

What is a drop-in group?

The UMCC may also offer a drop-in group. Students do not need to be clients of the center or require an appointment ahead of time to join a drop-in group. An example of a drop-in group would be our Mind-Spa group. Please check the Current Group Schedule to see which drop-in groups we are offering this semester.

Why do people join?

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.

What you can get from group therapy?

Make contact with and explore the world of inner feeling: This includes such feelings as boredom, guilt, anger, hurt, joy, sexuality, playfulness, affection, resentment, sorrow, love and excitement.  Many of us may have learned to isolate ourselves from this feeling world.  Through disclosing ourselves to others in group, and expressing our feelings towards them, we have a chance to get back in touch with this creativity and experience ourselves more fully.

Get Feedback: In daily conversation, most people give feedback that is either polite flattery or thoughtless condemnation, which does not help us to critically understand ourselves. In a group, however, it is possible to get honest feedback about how we are coming across, to find out what impressions others have of us, to see ourselves as others see us, to discover our unknown mannerisms, habits and styles of relating and communicating, and to become aware of the unconscious messages we are transmitting.

Learn about closeness and intimacy: What often blocks people from being close is the fear of being pushed around by other people's feelings, demands, and expectations.  When they begin to get close, they get tangled up on the feeling level. In group, there is a chance to learn how to disentangle the problems that arise in relationships so that people can be close and still retain their freedom, autonomy, and self-assertiveness.

What do I talk about in group therapy?

You can expect to talk about what problem brought you to counseling in the first place. You can ask for both support and for feedback. It is important to let the group know what you want from them.

One of the major reasons people have relationship difficulties is that they haven't learned how to express their feelings effectively. Self-disclosure of your feelings is important in group and will affect how much you will be helped.

Most people are somewhat anxious about being able to talk in group. It is important to realize that you control what, how much, and when you share with the group. It is also important to realize that group leaders take the responsibility for a supportive environment in which feedback is given and received. Almost without exception, within a few sessions all members are sharing in the group.

Common misconceptions about group therapy

“I will be forced 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. Most people find that when they feel safe enough to share what is troubling them, a group can be very helpful and affirming. We encourage you not to share what you are not ready to disclose. However, you can also be helped by listening to others and thinking about how their concerns might apply to you.

“Group therapy is second-best to individual therapy.”

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.

Group therapy may be recommended to you because your counselor believes that it is the most effective way to address your concerns. Group therapy offers many benefits that are not as available with individual therapy.  In everyday life it is often difficult to get useful and reliable information about yourself from others. People seldom take the time to carefully observe others, and the social constraints against giving others honest feedback inhibits the sharing of observations that could be helpful and instructive. By contrast, group members do take the time to observe and share impressions in honest and caring ways.  Another asset of group therapy is provided by the variety of personalities, experiences, and coping strategies that are natural to the members of any group. The strengths of each individual group member can serve as a model for other group members who are still learning about those skills and strengths.

Can I be in individual and group counseling at the same time?

Group therapy is often the ideal form of therapy for college students since a primary focus of group is on relationships and understanding and managing feelings. These are common issues for students. Group therapy alone can be a sufficient means of dealing with these issues. However, some students benefit from both individual and group therapy. The professionals at UMCC can help you decide what forms of therapy may be best for you.

How do I join a group?

Talk to your counselor about the group that you are interested in joining or contact the Counseling Center to schedule an initial assessment to talk about how group therapy might help you.

Group Offerings

UMCC offers a variety of groups each semester. Those groups recently offered have focused on issues such as relationships, grief, shyness/ social anxiety, women's issues, LGBT, graduate student concerns, and racial/ethnic issues, among others. Like individual counseling, group counseling at UMCC is confidential; information disclosed to other members is not discussed outside of the group.