Who is it for?
Undergraduate (and Masters) students from any faculty who want to:
- Experience themselves in a relationship to a group
- Be involved in the support and challenge of a counselling group
- Continue their counselling work (perhaps after individual counselling) in a different format
What is the format?
The group meets every week on Fridays 9.30am to 11.00am. It is important to commit to attending weekly for a minimum of 5 consecutive meetings to develop the group relationship. It is anticipated that the group will be on-going through term times and, if there is agreement with a minimum of 3 members, through some dates in vacation times.
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; 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 an experienced group facilitator where they will discuss their suitability for joining the group. Prior to this meeting, interested members will be emailed a prompt sheet of questions to consider.
New members may join the group at ANY TIME throughout the academic year (subject to space being available). There will be a maximum of 8 members in the group.
Preparing to be a group member - see Questions to consider
Why consider group counselling?
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?
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 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
A range of quotes from the Group Evaluation Forms from 2009-10:
It can be very intense and challenging experience if you take actively part in it.
Group acted as a great support that simultaneously allowed me to learn about myself and others which could be applied to improve parts of my life.
It helped me see myself from a more positive point of view.
Group Counselling is a space where you are accepted. It doesn't matter who you are, what you believe in, what you're opinions are, or (more importantly) how you feeling, there is always a chair waiting for you, accompanied by a group of people who will wait for you and help you through anything. I truly recommend it, and I will definitely carry my experience with me always.
Being part of the group helped me a lot to share my feelings and thoughts with other people, without fear of being judged or rejected.
Group counselling was a life-changing experience, not only because I learned how to connect with people, but most importantly because I learned to accept myself as I am. Now I know I do not need to be afraid of my feelings