Groups: Frequently Asked Questions

As you consider participation in a group, you may have a number of questions. We hope that the following will answer some of them. However, don’t hesitate to call Counseling and Psychological Services if you have other questions or would like to discuss your interest in one of our groups.

What is group counseling?

In a typical group, five to eight people meet face-to-face with one or more trained facilitators to discuss personal issues affecting school and personal life.  Group therapy is unique because it is a safe environment. The format varies, depending on the facilitator’s style and the intention of the group.

Why is group counseling effective?

Research has shown that group is actually as effective as individual counseling as a form of treatment for many concerns. When group members interact, they often notice that they are not alone with their problems and that their concerns can be understood. Group members can offer support, generate alternatives, problem solve, and provide feedback to one another. They also reflect on what they hear and how it applies to themselves. Group counseling offers unique opportunities to apply interpersonal skills and to receive feedback and support from others in a safe setting. Hearing from peers can often be very helpful as members can more easily connect around similar life situations. This is often a great stepping-stone to using these skills and strategies in outside situations with family, friends and others you meet. We have often heard members say they were grateful to take the leap and join a group, as it has been an enriching experience.

What do I talk about in group counseling?

Everyone is unique and brings their own experiences. It is important to remember that you are ultimately the person responsible for letting other members know your concerns and your needs. Revealing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences—self-disclosure—is an important part of group and affects how much you will find it helpful. You may also find it useful to provide your reactions in response to hearing from other people in the group. Challenge yourself to say what is on your mind. You may find that other people agree with you or that you bring fresh insight and viewpoint to a problem.

How does the group establish trust in order to make it work?

Group members are asked to follow certain ground rules.  Regular attendance is expected and contributes greatly to building trust. Group members are encouraged to at least attend 3 group sessions to see if it is a good fit. Also, the content of group sessions is confidential: members agree that what they talk about or disclose in group are not discussed outside the group.  There is time in the screening and in the first group meeting to talk further about ground rules.

What’s the advantage of being in a group?

Group therapy can be a great way to address very important concerns in your life, sometimes even more so than individual counseling. Counseling and Psychological Services sets no session limits for group counseling, making it a long-term treatment option for students. If you have found it helpful, you may continue from one semester to another.

How do I get into a group?

If you are not seeing a counselor, schedule an initial consultation appointment with CAPS to discuss your interest. If you are already seeing a counselor at CAPS, you may discuss your interest with your counselor. To find out more, you can simply call us at 703-993-2380 or come to the front desk of Counseling and Psychological Services (Student Union Building 1, Room 3129, 3rd floor) anytime between 8:30 and 5pm, Monday through Friday.

Which group is best for me?

It may seem difficult to choose the “right” one from the variety of groups offered by CAPS. You may take the first step by reading the descriptor of each group and tentatively deciding on one or two that are of most interest to you. Initial consultations are necessary before being referred to any group. During the consultation, you can talk about your interest in particular groups and decide which one might be a good fit. Once a specific group is identified, you may schedule a screening with the counselor(s) leading the group. You will then discuss with the group leader your goals and expectations of the group and together decide if the group is a good match.


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