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Group therapy popularity growing

Liz Lefevbre | Thursday, February 26, 2009

This semester, the University Counseling Center is offering 10 different counseling groups which cover a range of topics from eating disorders to alcohol and substance abuse to relieving stress.

The counseling groups are made up of six to 10 students who usually meet once a week during the semester to discuss common issues and struggles. This setting provides a place to evaluate personal relationships and learn new ways of responding to people or situations that may be problematic for students.

Groups are chosen for the semester based on “student interest and staff expertise,” as well as the types of issues that lend themselves to group participation, said Dr. Rita Donley, the Associate Director of the University Counseling Center.

According to the Counseling Center’s Web site, ucc.nd.edu, “The great advantage of group therapy is that you not only can count on the expertise of the counselors who facilitate the group but you also can get to know other students who are going through similar issues as you.”

Although four of the groups have already been filled for this semester, six are still available for students to join, Donley said. Beyond Facebook, Sober 4 Good, Caught In The Loop, Graduate Student Therapy Group, Success Without Excess and Feel Better Fast all currently have openings, she said.

These six groups are designed for students who wish to: relate to each other through group interaction, achieve sobriety, reduce compulsions and obsessions, gain greater confidence and self-understanding in light of adjusting to graduate school, experience legal social drinking without risking negative consequences, and improve their moods by reducing stress and attaining better sleep, according to the Web site

Students interested in joining group counseling should contact the University Counseling Center.

Donley cited the importance of therapy and counseling within a group setting.

“I think that by far the biggest advantage of group counseling is learning from others and being assured that you aren’t alone,” Donley said. “In group counseling, it’s a bit like a learning lab. You are learning how to express yourself and deal with feelings as they come up while learning how to relate with others.”

Donley noted that in her over 20 years of work at the Counseling Center, rarely has there been a breach of confidentiality from a group session.

“Because most students want their own privacy protected, they feel it is important to protect the privacy of others in the group so that the group can function best and they have done a great job protecting each other,” Donley said

Overall, Donley has found that students have appreciated and grown from their experiences in group counseling.

“Life is full of risks. You have to decide what risks you are willing to take. The majority of students who have taken this risk have reported to us they are glad they did,” she said.

After fall registration is complete, the Counseling Center will begin working with interested students to coordinate schedules for group counseling. Visit the Counseling Center on the third floor of Saint Liam Hall or call 574-631-7336.