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Group Expectations, Myths, & FAQ

Home 9 Counseling & Clinical Services 9 Therapy Services 9 Group Therapy 9 Group Expectations, Myths, & FAQ

Demystifying Group Therapy

Group Therapy Expectations

What can I expect from being in drop-in/support groups?

Support groups are spaces where people with similar concerns can encourage, understand, validate, and comfort one another. Support groups do not emphasize dynamics occurring between members, nor do they emphasize change. Our drop-in/support groups do not require contact or screenings with the Counseling Center.  These are open-ended and are availble to students to join at their leisure.

What can I expect from being in therapy groups?

Therapy groups go beyond providing a space for sharing feedback and support. They encourage participants to deepen multiple perspectives, practice skills, experiment new behaviors, and learn how to have more satisfying relationships. Interpersonal dynamics occurring between members may be emphasized, often leading to enhanced personal growth. 

In order to participate in group therapy services you will need to complete an Initial Assessment appointment with the Counseling Center. You can inform the Iniatial Assessment clinician that you are interseted in therapy groups. Your Initial Assessment therapist may also suggest or refer you to group based on your presenting concerns and treatment needs and/or goals. After you have completed an initial assessment and have been referred to a group you will complete a Group Screening with the leader(s) of the group. This is a brief appointment to help the leader(s) learn more about you and to inform you about what you can expect from group therapy. 

Due to the Counseling Center operating remotely, group therapy services will be offered via telebehavioral videoconferencing for the Winter 2021 quarter. At this time only currently enrolled UCI students who are currently located in the state of California will be able to participate in group therapy services.

Group Therapy Common Myths and Questions

“I will be forced to tell my secrets to the group or do something I don’t want to.”

You control what, how often, and when you share with the group

“Group therapy is less effective than individual therapy.”

Group therapy is as effective as individual therapy. You can learn from other’s experiences and support each other.

“It is too difficult to get groups organized in a quarter system.”

Time limited groups have increased efficiency of group work, and often more appropriate for college students who are in the quarter system. Groups are often the most effective method to treat concerns that university students are facing.

“My problems are not as bad as others, or they are worse than others.”

 Students benefit from knowing that they are not alone in situations, regardless of what they are struggling with. While supporting others, you are also improving yourself. Additionally, you will be supported when you need it

“Hearing other member’s problems will make me feel or get worse.”

Group members report gaining satisfaction, meaning, and a sense of connection by hearing others struggles and successes. Participating in group can help you learn to sit with others who are suffering, as well as increase tolerance of your own suffering, in a way that is compassionate and helpful. Hearing other’s experience can also be uplifting, provide hope and inspiration, and provide relief as you recognize that you are not alone.

“People outside of the group will hear what I discussed.”

Members of the group are highly encouraged to maintain the privacy of other group members. Only the group leaders are bound to confidentiality.

“If I am in group, I will not get enough attention or may not get my needs met.”

Most therapy groups only have 7-9 members. Group members are often surprised by the material they can cover in group or how their concerns are being addressed even when others are speaking. Recognizing how your own experiences may be related or how you can connect with another member can also help you to learn from others and to facilitate personal growth.

“The group will look like the ‘alcoholics anonymous’ groups I have seen on TV.”

Students report that groups look very different when compared to how they are portrayed on TV. The group facilitators strive to be dynamic, creative, and respectful.

“I do not feel comfortable talking in a group or sharing my problems with people I do not know.”

Although it’s common to feel uncomfortable when sharing with people you don’t know, most students find that their level of comfort and willingness to talk increases as the group progresses. In fact, students who have been attending group sessions start to look forward to them because they feel connected to other members, and they start to feel a sense of pride and confidence as they build new skills.  Being able to learn to express yourself in any setting, when you choose to, is empowering and liberating.

“What if another member of the group is my friend or classmate?”

You are not asked to be in a group with someone that you already know or are not comfortable with. The facilitators can help you explore the extent of the relationship and make adjustments as needed. We will work with you to find the best fit and solution for your level of safety and comfort.

“Will this be another place for me to be judged?”

People who have found a social group or organization to be painful or harmful in the past may find this is to be a great opportunity to heal from these experiences. Many have used the group as a way to create more positive experiences and have benefited from the opportunity to feel valued, accepted, and validated by others. Group members frequently report an increased sense of understanding and acceptance and find that other group members can often relate to them about concerns they felt were uniquely their own.

“What if I don’t feel group is helping me?”

We encourage you to discuss your concerns in the group – namely things that are or are not working. Having these discussions can often be a turning point in the group where you can more effectively work to improve your experience. If you continue to feel your needs are not being met, we can work with you to explore other options.

* Based on information curated by both UCI Counseling Center and University of Florida’s Counseling and Wellness Center.

Click here for a list of our current group listings.

More Short Term Therapy Services

Weathering the Weather

It is getting closer to the holiday break and the end is in sight! Soon we will be with family and friends and getting some much-needed relaxation after the start to the quarter! Phew!

While this time can be something to look forward to, it is important to still be aware of caring for your mental health. Here are some things to consider as we reach the end of the year!

Summer Reflection

Summer is a great time to reflect on all the things you have done and learned along the way, and to also consider what areas you would like to grow into as you transition into the next academic year.

Take time to reflect, and perhaps even journal out your thoughts:

How to Improve Relationship with Food

Are you struggling with your relationship with food? In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week that occurs Feb. 21st- Feb. 27th here are 7 tips that will help you improve your relationship with food:

1. Be aware that there are NO “good” foods and “bad” foods. All foods provide nutrition and sustenance to the body and our bodies need protein, carbohydrate, fiber, and even sugar and fat to survive. All foods are good if you eat a variety of foods to get all of the nutrients that you need in moderation….