Group therapy

What is group therapy?   
What are the goals of group therapy?  
How often do groups meet?   
What kinds of groups are offered?
How do I get into a group?   
How do I make the most of group therapy?
Common misconceptions about group therapy   
What about confidentiality?
What do group participants say about their experiences?

What is group therapy?

Group therapy is a form of therapy where people meet regularly in small groups to discuss and explore their problems with each other and the group leader(s). Groups offer students a safe and confidential place on campus to work on problems and hear different perspectives. Group members gain insight into their own thoughts and behavior and offer support to others. Group therapy can help participants feel less alone with their problems as they navigate through college. It's a powerful tool for growth and change and an opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, encouragement and feedback in a safe, confidential environment. Group members can deepen self-awareness, enhance relationship skills and experiment with new ideas and ways of being. View our listing of current therapy groups.

What are the goals of group therapy?

  • Gain an understanding of personal problems and explore possible solutions
  • Give and receive feedback and support
  • Feel more connected to other students who are struggling with similar issues
  • Practice communication skills in a safe group setting
  • Learn more about how you come across to others
  • Improve your ability to identify your feelings and express them
  • Reduce social isolation

How often do groups meet?

Groups generally meet for an hour and a half weekly through the end of each semester. Each group is scheduled for a particular day of the week and a time of day that is set for the duration of the group each semester. Some groups are closed to new members after the beginning of the group, and require a commitment for the semester. Other groups allow new members to join throughout the semester. Groups meet in group therapy rooms at CCPH in New Africa House or in Bartlett Hall.

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What kinds of groups are offered?

Every semester, our groups focus on a wide variety of topics, and are geared to the needs of different student populations. We offer specialized groups for: Undergraduate and Graduate students, LGBTQIA students, Trans and Gender-Nonconforming students, Students of Color, New students, Graduating students, and RA’s and Peer Mentors. We offer group counseling focused on making connections, self-exploration, relationships, grief and loss, ADHD/ADD, stress and anxiety management, and mindfulness and meditation among other topics which change each year.  We are always interested in meeting the needs of students, so please contact the group coordinator with ideas of groups you would like to see offered.

Group coordinator:
Julia Moss Ph.D., MSW
413-545-0333

How do I get into a group?

In order to participate in a group, you need to meet with a counselor at CCPH to assess whether or not group counseling is the best treatment for you. The clinician will then refer you to the group leader(s), who will give you specific information about their group and together you will explore if it is a good fit for you.  If you want information about the group program as a whole, you can ask to speak with the group coordinator, Dr. Julia Moss at 413-545-0333. She can answer your questions and discuss your options for participating in groups at UMass.

How do I make the most of group therapy?

  • Attend the group regularly
  • Share your hopes and fears for participating in group
  • Share with the group what you’re struggling with
  • Take some emotional risks in group
  • Be direct and honest with your feelings in group
  • Be willing to give and receive feedback
  • Share your own experiences and ask others about theirs
  • Let the group know both positive and negative feelings that come up in group

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Common misconceptions about group therapy

"I'll be forced to tell my deepest thoughts, feelings and secrets."
You control what, how much and when you share. Most people find that when they feel safe enough to share what's troubling them, a group can be helpful and affirming. Even if you're not ready to talk about something, listening to others can help. What they're saying may apply to you.

"Group therapy will take longer because I'll be sharing the time."
Group therapy is often more efficient than individual therapy for two reasons: First, you can benefit from the group, even when you're quiet and listening carefully. Second, group members may bring up issues that strike a chord with you - things you may not have been aware of or brought up yourself.

"Others in the group will verbally attack me."
It's important for members to feel safe and leaders will help develop that environment within the group. While feedback is often hard to hear, groups can point out damaging behaviors in a respectful, gentle way, so you can hear and use the insights. As trust grows, group members generally experience feedback (and even confrontation) as a sign of caring.

"I have trouble talking to people. I'll never be able to share in a group."
Most people are anxious about talking in a group, but this almost always fades quickly. People also remember what it's like to be new to a group; you're likely to get a lot of support when you do begin talking.

"Group therapy is second-best."
Group therapy is the most effective treatment approach for many issues college students face. When a group is recommended, it's because your therapist believes it's the best way for you to be helped. He or she can discuss the reasons for the recommendation with you.

Common concerns adapted from Counseling Services, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.

What about confidentiality?

Groups are confidential, meaning that what members disclose in sessions is not shared outside of the group. The importance of confidentiality and concerns about are reviewed with group members at the first meeting and every time a new member joins a group.

Adapted from Counseling Services at, State University of New York at Buffalo, and Cornell University, CAPS

What do group participants say about their experiences?

We asked our clients who were in group therapy at CCPH about their experience, and these are some of their comments.

What did you like about this group?

"Being able to talk about anything and feel supported."

"I learned that it’s okay to be different and to accept who I am."

"Hearing about how other participants are going through similar things."

"As someone with a small support system (or non-existent one) on campus, group helped me feel connected to other students."

"Having people relate to my experience, helping me identify my emotions, and having the leaders facilitate our conversations."
 

What did you learn about yourself during the group experience?

"I learned that I am doing a lot better than I give myself credit for."

"I learned not to be ashamed when relaying my personal experience; on the contrary, my group experience helped me connect with others and gave me a sense of pride and belonging."

"Group has helped me see that my problems don’t define who I am, because everyone has insecurities and we all have so much more to us than our problems."

"I learned that I’m not the only one struggling with difficult issues. A lot of people I know on campus pretend/seem to be fine and it was great to know that I’m not abnormal in my struggles."

"I can get through this. I am not alone, other people have done this, others care about me, so I will be ok."

"Before coming to group, I felt alone, now I feel better about talking to people and connecting with them."

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