Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Isn’t individual counseling better?
A: Group counseling can be more effective than individual counseling, particularly for issues related to interacting with others. Groups also meet weekly, which is typically more frequent than individual counseling is available in the CTC. Even when you are not speaking, you are able to learn from listening to others and feel that you are not alone in your struggles. This can be very healing and therapeutic all by itself.
Q: How many people are in a typical group?
A: Most groups have between 5-8 students and 1-2 group leaders.
Q: How long do groups last?
A: Most groups last 90 minutes and run for 8-10 weeks. You may be able to return to a group or try a different group if you are interested.
Q: Who leads groups?
A: Groups are led by one or two mental health professionals, such as licensed psychologists, clinical social workers, and doctoral interns and fellows.
Q: What about confidentiality?
A: What is said in group, stays in group. Group leaders are committed to maintaining confidentiality. In order to create safety and trust and create an environment for positive change and growth, group members will be asked to keep the names and identities of other group members, as well as the content discussed in group, confidential.
Q: What if I don’t feel like talking or sharing my secrets in group?
A: Many people feel anxious about being in or sharing with a group. No one in group is forced to talk about anything with which they are not comfortable. We try hard in group to encourage members to share at their own pace and in a way that feels helpful to them. Most people find that they start to feel more comfortable within the first session or two. You control what, how much, and when you share with group. Group members learn to identify their personal boundaries and respectfully communicate those boundaries to one another in a supportive environment.
Q: Can I be in individual and group counseling at the same time?
A: Group counseling is often the ideal form of counseling for college students because a primary focus of group is on relationships and understanding and managing feelings, which are common issues for students. Group counseling alone can be a sufficient way to address these issues. Some students may benefit from both individual and group counseling. The professionals at the CTC can help you decide what forms of counseling might be best for you.
Q: What does a group session look like?
A: Not all groups at the CTC are the same. Some are structured or semi-structured; these sessions usually consist of brief presentations by group leaders, group discussion, and experiential activities designed to practice skills. The focus in these groups is on understanding and managing feelings. Some groups are not structured, or more process-oriented. There is not a specific topic of group and members are welcome to discuss any issues that are important to them. The focus in these groups is on interactions between group members and facilitating understanding and connection with others.
Q: What if a member of the group is my friend or classmate?
A: 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 consult with you and/or your friend/classmate and do our best to find another appropriate group that matches your needs and schedule.
Q: What if other people in the group judge or criticize me?
A: It is very important to us that group members feel safe and group leaders work hard to create a comfortable environment for everyone. However, one of the focuses of counseling is making changes in our lives, which can be quite uncomfortable! We understand that feedback is often difficult to hear, from other group members or from leaders. One of the benefits of group counseling 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 exactly what group can offer. This will be done in a respectful and caring way, so that you can hear it and make use of it.
Q: How do I make the most of group counseling?
- Attend regularly! Joining a group is a commitment to yourself and other group members.
- Participate actively. You will make more progress if you are involved in group discussion, sharing your thoughts and feelings, and thinking about what you work on in group between sessions.
- Listen attentively. You are more able to connect with group and get more out of it if you are engaged in the experience of others, rather than worrying about the next thing you might say or something you said earlier.
- Be honest. It allows other group members to know who you really are and takes the pressure off of presenting an “image” to others.
- Be respectful. It is your responsibility as a group member to share feedback, positive or negative, in a way that is not blaming or judging. Do not jump to giving advice or suggestions or try to solve other members’ problems for them.
- Take risks. Group is a safe and supportive place to experiment with expressing feelings and trying new ways of behaving to facilitate change.
- Ask for feedback. Often it can be hard to see how our own behaviors and perceptions may be getting in the way of our goals. Getting input from others in group is most helpful when you seek clarification and avoid becoming defensive or making excuses.