Advantages of a Group Counseling Approach
A group counseling format provides a supportive environment in which members can explore and discuss their concerns with peers and counselors. It offers more than an individual perspective on issues, and it allows its members to see things from multiple vantage points. Within the group setting, members are able to reflect on the way that they currently interact with others. They also have the opportunity to practice new ways of interacting; the trust and support received from the group can be helpful in this respect. Group counseling also provides members with the opportunity to give and receive feedback to and from their peers.
Another advantage of group therapy is that it helps people recognize that they are not alone in their concerns. Realizing that others have experienced similar difficulties can be an encouraging and empowering experience. Hearing and sharing different ways of coping with similar problems may help one to develop new ways of managing their life. Group can create an environment that mirrors one's experience outside of group. The safe environment of the group often helps members to find the confidence it takes to try new things. Changes that occur inside of the group can promote changes outside of the group.
Frequency of Group Sessions
Most groups offered by the Counseling Center will have between 4 and 8 students. Groups typically meet once a week for 1 to 1.5 hours on the same day and time every week. This format may vary slightly depending upon the group. Consistent group attendance is important to get the most from the group experience.
Group Counselors: Credentials and Role
Group counseling services are provided by two co-counselors. In some cases one of the counselors is a graduate student counselor in a mental health training programs at NSU and the other counselor is a NSU Counseling Center senior staff counselor. In others cases the co-counselors would be two graduate student counselors. Graduate student counselors work under the close supervision of senior staff counselors.
Group counselors provide guidelines to help build a trusting environment in which students can work together supportively and safely. They also help members better understand themselves and their interactions with others.
In group counseling, both counselors and group members are responsible for confidentiality. Your group counselors abide by professional standards and will not release any information to outside sources without your written permission. The only exceptions are in cases of danger to self or others, child/dependent abuse, court order, or where otherwise required by law.
Although group members are not required by law to protect the confidentiality of other members of the group, the Counseling Center expects that group members, recognizing the importance of mutual trust and support, will refrain from talking about the identities of other group members and information shared during sessions with others outside of the group.
Expectations for Group Members
As you begin your group therapy experience, there are a few expectations for you to consider.
1. Attendance: Regular attendance at group meetings and commitment to the work of the group are very important. If for any reason a student needs to miss a meeting, he or she should communicate this to the group counselor by calling 823-8173.
2. Responsibility: Each group member must take responsibility for working on their counseling goals and reasons for being in the group. No one is going to force members to talk or reveal difficult material. It is up to each member to do so on their own.
Please keep in mind that it is natural to feel some anxiety about starting in a group for the first time. With time, most students find that they become comfortable with the group process and with other group members. Additional group rules and pre-group meetings are usually a part of the group process, and they may vary slightly according to the leaders and type of the group. See our "Counseling Center Groups Currently Offered" page, to see what types of groups are offered this semester.
The Counseling Center staff hopes that this page answers most of your questions regarding group work. We also hope that this information will reduce any anxiety you might experience about a group counseling approach. If you would like to find out further information about group counseling, feel free to call 823-8173 or stop by the Counseling Center.