Group Counseling 2
Group Counseling At A Glance

Group counseling is a great way to address a variety of issues, and for certain matters, it is the most effective. Group experiences decrease feelings of isolation, reduce beliefs that you are the only one experiencing these issues, and provide encouragement by hearing about others' experiences. It is powerful to be around others who understand your experience and support you. Counseling Center clinicians facilitate a small group of participants who meet weekly to discuss their concerns. Groups typically focus on a specific experience, identity, or symptom. We offer a number of groups each semester; our frequent offerings are listed below.

Frequently Offered Groups
What Makes Group Counseling Work?

When people interact with other group members, they tend to recreate the difficulties that brought them to counseling. With a skilled facilitator, the group is able to provide support and feedback, offer alternatives, and address the behaviors in a healthy way. Instead of perpetuating the issue, it is resolved. This process allows someone to learn and practice alternative behaviors and develop new ways of relating to people. Group counseling is a very effective treatment and for certain concerns, the best form of treatment.

Common Misconceptions about Group Counseling
  • “I will be forced to tell all of my deepest thoughts and feelings to the group.” You control what, how much, and when you share with the group. Most individuals find that they feel safe enough to share their concerns with the group, and the group setting can be very helpful and affirming. Share what you are ready to share. Listening to others may also help, as some of what they say might apply to you.

  • “Group Counseling will take longer than individual counseling because I will have to share the time with others.” Group counseling can often be more efficient than individual counseling. As a participant in a group, you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little if you listen carefully to others. You will find that you have a lot in common with other group members. As they work on a concern, you will learn more about yourself and can apply that information to your own situation.

  • “Group counseling is second-best to individual counseling.” If a group referral is provided, it is because the clinician believes that it is an effective method to address your concerns. Not everyone is appropriate for group treatment. There are numerous presenting concerns that are more effectively addressed in group work than individual counseling.

  • “I have difficulty talking to people, I’ll never be able to share in a group.” Most individuals are anxious about the idea of sharing their thoughts and feelings with others, but within a few sessions, most participants find that they do feel comfortable talking in the group. Becoming comfortable speaking with others in a safe, group setting may help your relationships with others, and benefit other aspects of your life as well.

Benefits of Group Counseling
  • Learn how you are perceived by others
  • Experience a sense of acceptance and belonging
  • Discover that you are not alone in the difficulties you are experiencing
  • Hear ideas from others which enhance your ability to make decisions and solve problems
  • Benefit from the experience of being helpful to others
  • Learn to constructively express your feelings and ideas to others
  • Gain encouragement by observing the successes of others
What Students Are Saying About Groups

Quoted with permission from 2023-2024 student feedback:

“Finding people with similar experiences that allow me to feel less alone in my experiences.”

“The facilitators were very nice and made the atmosphere very comfortable.”

“Being around people with similar experiences and identity and sharing these struggles was super helpful.”

“Learning how to recognize when I'm being self-critical and how to turn those thoughts into more self-compassionate ones.”

“The facilitators did an amazing job looking out for all of us and making sure we had a chance to be heard without feeling pressured.”

“Being able to support others and reaffirm strength to all (myself included.)”

What About Confidentiality?

The responsibility for confidentiality is shared among the group leader(s) and all group members. Virginia law requires that group leaders keep all client communications and information confidential. Each group participant is required to sign a confidentiality agreement. Group members make a personal pledge that nothing stated in group, including names of group members, will be shared with anyone outside of the group. These rules are critical to the development of a safe, respectful, and trusting atmosphere which allows individuals to openly share their feelings.

If you are interested in a Counseling Center group, mention that during your initial visit.

Group Descriptions


This Dialectical Behavioral Therapy informed group helps participants reduce and effectively manage painful and/or challenging emotions. It provides information about ways to increase mindfulness, tolerate distress, increase positive emotions, and provides skills to improve relationships. Group members must be connected to an individual clinician (on or off campus) to participate.

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Family of Origin

This group focuses on discussing and connecting with others about family of origin issues and the impact that has on functioning, identity and relationships. An expressive arts component may be present for some sessions.

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Grief Group

This group assists members by helping them cope with the reality of loss, manage the related feelings and make meaning out of the change in their world. This group provides an opportunity for members to feel understood and supported in the uniqueness of his or her situation, and to create an atmosphere that leads to growth and healing.

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HOPE Group

This group is offered to students who are in various stages of preoccupation with eating concerns, food, body image issues, and thinness. It also provides an opportunity to discuss how these issues impact functioning and relationships. An expressive arts component may be present for some sessions.

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Nature Nurture Ecotherapy Group

This outdoor-based therapeutic group aims to foster nature-connectedness as a means for improved wellness through the implementation of nature-focused psycho-education, experiential activities, individual reflection and group discussion.

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ReSet Perfectionism

This group is designed for students who experience intense anxiety, distress, or self-criticism when making a mistake or not getting a perfect grade. It’s designed for students who feel their accomplishments are never quite good enough or procrastinate on assignments because they have to be just right. This treatment program consists of 7 sessions that provide research-based strategies and techniques to experience less stress while still striving for success.

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This group provides an opportunity for participants to explore and process different components of self-compassion (self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness) and how it applies to their lives. Information will be presented about concerns related to perfectionism, low self-esteem & self-worth, persistent "self-critical talk", and situational stressors resulting in guilt and shame.

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STEP Group

This group is for survivors of sexual trauma. Survivors of all types of sexual trauma are welcome. The group provides a space for survivors to receive and offer support as they cope with the impact of trauma. Group members must be connected to an individual clinician (on or off campus) to participate.

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This group provides an open and affirming space for those who identify as transgender, as having a non-conforming gender identity, and/or who are questioning their gender identity and gender expression. This group provides students the opportunity to share and explore specific issues and concerns related to gender identity and expression in a safe environment and to gain support from one another. Diverse points of view will be equally respected and explored.

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Understanding Self and Others

Understanding Self and Others is a process group where you can learn about how you relate to others and experiment with new ways of relating. In the process you can grow as a person and learn how to develop more satisfying relationships.

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