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Group Therapy

Is Group Therapy right for me?

Therapy is a place for you to explore problems new and old, explore what is going well in your life and what could be better, and learn new ways of being in the world. When people think of “therapy” they are often imagining individual therapy, where you meet one-on-one with a mental health expert. Obviously, we at the Counseling Center believe this is an invaluable experience, but it does have some limitations.

The perspective and feedback you receive is limited to one person, it can be challenging to generalize growth outside of the therapy room, and the insight and experience you bring is limited to your own perspective. This is where group therapy shines. Our groups offer social support, a variety of perspectives from fellow students, and a chance to process and practice real social experiences which cannot be replicated in one-on-one therapy. Read more about the benefits of group therapy at the bottom of this page!

What groups does the Counseling Center have?

We offer different types of groups that fall into two broader categories: skills groups, that focus on teaching students tools for change or symptom management, and process groups, that are more focused on helping group members examine their issues in a therapeutic group setting.

Groups offered varies from semester to semester and availability changes from week to week, so we cannot say what is open to you right at this very moment. Our recent groups have included:

Students of Color Support Group – A place for connection, self-empowerment, and advocacy for students of color. Students will be supported as they explore racial and ethnic issues as they intersect with their personal relationship and academic successes and challenges.

Queer Support Group – This group is led by a queer-identifying clinician and is for queer-identifying students who have experienced homophobia (internalized or otherwise), discrimination, and a general sense of being othered. It provides a safe and supportive environment that allows students to give and receive feedback, express fears, and cultivate a better understanding and acceptance of self and others.

Trans & Gender Non-Binary Support Group – A supportive therapy group for students who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, gender queer, or any other identity on the transgender spectrum. Also, for students who are questioning their gender identity and want a safe place to explore this with peers.

DBT – Designed to help students learn healthy coping skills to effectively manage relationships, emotions, and distress levels.

Mindfulness – For anyone who experiences anxiety, stress, or would like to learn how to use mindfulness and meditation to improve their overall mental health, based on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

Interpersonal Process (IP) Groups – Allow students to practice new ways of relating and interacting with others, cultivate a better understanding and acceptance of themselves, and receive support and feedback from others. There are several IP groups:

  • Graduate Students
  • Undergraduate Students
  • Mixed (Grad and undergrad)
  • Women’s Group
  • Men’s Group

If you’re interested in learning what groups are currently running please give us a call at 865-974-2196.

Okay, I’m sold! How do I join? What should I expect?

All services at the Counseling Center start with a Brief Assessment. This is a chance for us to get to know you and your specific concerns, and see if group therapy is right for you at this time. Following your Brief Assessment, you may be referred to group therapy and participate in 30–45-minute group screening. A group screening is an appointment in which you will meet with one or both of the group leaders and have a chance to get to know them and learn more about the group opportunity. They will help you identify one or two goals that you would like to work on and will answer any questions you might have related to the group. After that, they will confirm your first group appointment.

A small number of students (usually about eight) meet weekly with one or two group therapists for 75 to 90 minutes depending on the group. Groups are often the best way for people to receive counseling services. In groups, members have the opportunity to share concerns and listen to each other, give and receive feedback, offer support to one another, express feelings, and learn more about how they interact with others.


How group therapy can help you!

Research has shown group therapy creates positive change because of these unique and distinguishing factors that are unique to group therapy:

Groups are often made up of people who are at different places in the healing process. It can be reassuring and helpful for those beginning their healing process to see and interact with individuals further along in the process that are doing well and feeling better.

Have you ever felt alone in your problems and worried that you are the only one that has that problem? Group therapy is a place where you can connect with others who are also experiencing similar emotions and difficulties. You are not alone!

Groups can be a place to get more information about the issue you are struggling with and strategies for coping with your concerns.

Group counseling is a place for you to help and support others in addition to being supported by others. Usually, when we help others, we feel better too!

Group counseling creates an environment similar to that of a family. When this happens, group members typically interact in groups similar to how they learned to interact early in life from their family. This allows group members to gain awareness of their interaction styles and allows opportunities for individuals to try out new ways of relating.

Group therapy offers a safe, supportive place for individuals to identify behaviors and ways of relating that are not helpful or productive. After identifying unhelpful behaviors, members can experiment using new, more adaptive ways of being that will help them be more successful in interacting with others.

Many times we learn by watching and imitating other’s behaviors. Group therapy creates a space for members to model behaviors they may see in the therapists or other group members that are beneficial.

Relationships tell us a lot about ourselves. The relationships created in group therapy allow members to receive feedback from the therapists and one another about how they are being experienced interpersonally. This allows members to gain a deeper understanding of themselves, those around them, and the relationships they form outside of the group.

The purpose of a therapy group is to unite individuals in a common goal. In doing so, deep and solid connections are formed which leads to a sense of belonging and acceptance from your fellow group members.

Group therapy also allows space for members to get things off their chest and gain support from others. The simple act of talking about a difficult situation or experience with others can be relieving.

Group therapy helps individuals to recognize that at times life is unfair and is often filled with adversities that must be faced. While the individual is ultimately responsible, it is helpful and reassuring to know that their fellow group members are there to support and encourage them. In the end, by facing these adversities with the support and encouragement of others, we find meaning, purpose, and hope.

The above was summarized by Dr Elizabeth Baker from Yalom, I. D. (1995). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy. New York, New York: Basic Books.