For some people who have perhaps already had experience of one-to-one counselling, it can be appropriate to consider joining a therapy group. The UCS offers closed, time limited groups for approximately five to seven group members. Venue: Groups are held in the Group Room in the University Counselling Service in Westwood House. Timing: The groups run for fifteen sessions and each group session lasts for one and a half hours. In Autumn 2010, this group is due to be held on a Tuesday late afternoon/evening - exact time to be confirmed. Groups generally start week 6 of term 1 and then another one may start in week 6 of term 2 - but start dates are generally in response to demand - once there is enough people who could form a group who are available at a similar time, (including the facilitator) group counselling can commence. You can register your interest any time: on-line form.
Explanation of terms:
A closed group means that once the group is underway, no more new members will come in to the group - it is closed to new-comers. You can register for the closed group any time, and may be invited to meet the group facilitator(s) who will be able to tell you when the next group is due to start.
A time limited group means that the number of sessions is set in place before the group starts, usually 15 meetings. Each group member commits to endeavour to attend every session. The benefit of knowing how many sessions there are is that you can build it in to your schedule in advance and take charge of how you pace your learning throughout the course of the group.
The closed, time limited group is open to all students, in any year of study and any level of study, from any subject - this ensures you get a good range and mix of group members to work with to ensure a broad experience and learning environment.
Why consider group counselling?
These groups may appeal to you if you want to experience how you function with other people, or if you want to generally broaden your emotional intelligence and life experience of yourself in relation to others. Engaging in group counselling can be a useful way of continuing counselling and of developing your learning from your counselling experience.
The benefits of being involved in a group include:
- you can get a range of perspectives on your issues
- you can get input from people like you - ie not just the professional counsellor
- you are all in a similar boat so it can feel supportive and not isolating
- you can take risks at your pace
- the experience can be mutual - you can both offer and receive
- you can relate with a range of people who you may not usually get to meet
- you can meet other students in a unique, emotionally intimate way
- you can experience the support (and challenge) of thinking aloud about yourself within a group
- you can explore how you relate with others
- you can be assured by the containment of an experienced professional facilitator
What actually happens in group counselling?
The first session is when all the group members meet each other for the first time. Some time is spent talking through the necessary procedural issues, such as how to manage confidentiality, absence, latecomers, etc. Then members are invited to think how they might want to get to know each other. There is no format or structure to group counselling so what is discussed is negotiated within and by the group, much the same as with individual counselling. Each group has a different way of being and each meeting may feel different. The role of the facilitator(s) is to contain the boundaries of the sessions and to encourage, prompt, invite and reflect as appropriate - but each group member is encouraged to engage with others. A common sentiment at the end of a course of group counselling is: I was a bit anxious at first, but was amazed at how fast the time went, and at the end of the 15 weeks, I was sorry the group was ending.
Feedback from Previous Group Members
Comments from the evaluation questionnaire included:
- Hearing other people's similar experiences and emotions was extremely important for me. I was able to experience my thoughts from the perspective of an outsider; they seemed shocking and illogical and it made me question the problematic elements of myself that I had previously accepted
- I felt appreciated and valued within the group and I was able to extend this to real life situations
- The group encouraged me to not blame myself for everything that goes wrong. It encouraged me to express emotions that I had tended to ignore. This was really important for me as I was able to put it into practice in real life with success
- [I was surprised] how much it would help me to hear the experiences of others - hearing that other people think in a similar way has stuck with me and somehow makes me challenge myself when a real life situation arises
- I now see myself quite differently to before
- [I was surprised] how close I felt to all of the members so quickly
I'm interested - what do I do now?
If you think you may be interested in this sort of group, complete the expression of interest on-line form. Once you have registered, you will be contacted by e-mail to invite you for a brief (30 minute) meeting with the group facilitator(s) to discuss whether or not the group is suitable for you. If it is, you will be invited to start and given details of the time and dates of the group; if, on the rare occasion that the group is not suitable, you will be offered an individual meeting with the facilitator(s) to discuss this fully.