Who is group for?
Anyone aged between 18 and 25 years of age who wants to:
- Experience themselves in a relationship to a group
- Understand how they function in evolving groups
- Be involved in the support and challenge of a therapy group
- Develop personal awareness and understanding
- Broaden their emotional literacy and intelligence
What is the format?
The groups meets every week for 90 minutes. It is important to commit to attending weekly to develop the group relationship - initially you need to commit to attending 5 consecutive sessions. After that, you can continue in group for as long as you are finding it helfpul. This group generally meets in term-time only.
Where does the group meet?
In the group room of the UCS (University Counselling Service) at Westwood House.
How do members join?
Some may be referred by their counsellor after one or more individual counselling sessions (it is not essential to have had individual counselling prior to becoming a group member, but it can be helpful); some may read about the group on the website and refer themselves in directly. Everyone interested will register on-line and then will be invited for an individual pre-group meeting with the group facilitator where they will discuss their suitability for joining the group and there will be time to ask any questions about the group to get a clearer idea of what happens in group. Prior to this meeting, interested members will be emailed a prompt sheet of questions to consider.
New members may join a group at any time throughout the academic year (subject to space being available). There will be a maximum of 8 members in a group.
Preparing to be a group member - see Questions to consider
Why consider group therapy?
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 therapy 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 and reciprocal - 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 people 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 therapy?
When new members join, a bit of 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 specific 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 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.
Feedback from Previous Group Members
Comments from the evaluation questionnaire include:
- 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
- The group feels like a separate Universe of sorts, where every participant is a planet of experiences and perspectives, all circling around an ever-changing centre which might be a problem, a worry, or something hard to think about. The well-enforced confidentiality policy allows people to genuinely open up and communicate on a new level that's hard to experience in any other environment.
Quotes from recent feedback forms:
I have become really secure with myself. I am really happy with who I am and it was a great experience discovering myself. I believe the group has helped me to feel the feelings and then to try and understand them.
Made me more self-confident, helped me to trust myself
The group helped me to remember different perspectives on a situation when my negative self-talk kicks in
The group has been a good, stable base for working on myself
Challenging, sometimes exhausting, but supportive and rewarding”
“Group has massively helped me in understanding myself more rationally”
I felt appreciated and valued within the group and I was able to extend this to real life situations
A brilliant opportunity to really explore how you think, behave and relate, in a safe environment with plenty of support.
It makes you realise that you are not alone, there are others who can positively relate to and make you see your experiences in new ways.