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What is Group Therapy?

In group therapy, four to eight people meet face-to-face with one or two group therapists and talk about what is troubling them. Members give feedback to each other by expressing their own feelings about what someone says or does. This interaction gives group members an opportunity to try out new ways of behaving and to learn more about the way they interact with others. What makes the situation unique is that it is a safe system. The importance of confidentiality (not discussing the content of group session outside of group) is stressed with all members. Members work to establish a level of trust that allows them to talk personally and honestly. Group trust is enhanced when all members make a commitment to the group

Groups currently offered at CAPS

  • Relationship Group-This group is intended to provide an environment where members can work on a variety of issues including, but not limited to: academic performance, motivation, romantic relationships, family relationships, establishing independence, making friends, assertiveness, separation/loss and procrastination.
  • Graduate Women's Group-This group is for women who are graduate students. Concerns addressed may include relationships, self-esteem, stress, victimization experiences, anxiety, family issues and depression.
  • Coping Skills Group-This is a six week psycho-educational  group focused on teaching students skills in the areas of mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation.  The aim of the group is to create increased effectiveness in shifting perceptions and thoughts to positively influence one’s emotional state and daily experiences.
  • Dissertation Distress/Thesis Torment Group-This group is for graduate students who are working on a dissertation or thesis. The focus is on problem solving, taking positive action, and staying motivated. It is open to students in all graduate programs.
  • Mindfulness Group-This group focuses on instruction and practice of basic mindfulness and meditation techniques, ranging from guided imagery to yoga.
  • Family Issues Group-This group is composed of students coping with family concerns related to parents with mental illness and/or chemical dependency. The group is intended to provide a safe environment for students to process childhood events, as well as current family of origin issues including sibling relationships and boundary setting with parents. Other frequently addressed topics include relationship concerns, academics, and mental health.
  • Grief and Loss Group-This group is for students who are grieving the loss of someone who died. The group is intended to provide a safe and supportive environment in which members can understand and move through the grief process toward reconciliation and a “new normal”.
  • SMART Recovery Group-A FREE evidence-based program designed to help individuals who are seeking independence from alcohol, drugs, and other addictive behaviors (e.g., gambling, pornography, and binge eating). This group will help participants: (1) build and maintain motivation to change their behaviors; (2) cope with urges and cravings; (3) manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that perpetuate addiction; and (4) live a balanced life. This group is open to KU students at any point in the process of changing addictive behaviors, from those who are just beginning to think about changing their behavior, to those who have been abstaining for some time and would like additional support. Signup is not required for this group, and students may attend as many or as few sessions as they like.
  • Anxiety Management Training Group-This short-term group consists of four sessions of educational content to teach students to manage their anxiety.  Students will learn about the nature of anxiety, acquire skills for relaxation, mindfulness, and self-soothing, discuss ways to address anxious behaviors, and learn how to manage anxious thoughts.

Why Does Group Therapy Work?

Group therapy is sometimes the most effective way of learning and growing. Here are some ideas about why this form of therapy can be so helpful.

  • Once can learn about both oneself and relationships in a group therapy setting. We often learn most about ourselves when we share our experiences and emotions honestly with other.
  • We also learn about ourselves when we get feedback from other people.
  • Knowing that others have histories and feelings similar to ours can help us feel less alone. As we help others learn about themselves, we often understand ourselves better. Seeing others grow from hurt and pain into creative solutions can sometimes give us hope and ideas.
  • Since the roles we play in life tend to be the same roles we adopt in group, experiences inside group, when we understand them, can teach us about experiences outside group.
  • The dependability and honesty of group members to each other can rebuild trust and self–worth, both in others and ourselves.

How to Get the Most Out Of a Therapy Group

  • Be yourself. Start from where you are, not where you think others want you to be. If you are having a difficult time knowing how to discuss your feelings, ask the group to help you. At times, just knowing what to say can feel uncomfortable.
  • Take time for yourself. You have the right to take group time to talk about yourself. Some group members hesitate to focus on themselves because they feel that others need the time or their own concerns are not as important as other group members. By understanding your reluctance to talk, you begin the growth process.
  • Be aware of censored thoughts and feelings. We are taught to censor what we communicate to others. Learning to express your thoughts and feelings without censorship in a safe setting is the first step towards self-awareness and the resolution of uncomfortable feelings.
  • Take risks. The group setting is an excellent place to experiment with different ways of behaving and expressing yourself. By taking risks, you can discover what works for you and what does not.
  • Give and receive feedback. Giving and receiving feedback is a major aspect of group therapy. The best way to get feedback is to request it, especially from specific individuals whose impression means the most from you. Giving feedback is enhanced when you express your thoughts and feelings and avoid giving advice or solutions unless these are specifically requested.
  • Be patient with yourself and the group. Growth takes time, effort and patience. It may take a number of sessions before members have enough trust to be open and for the process to work. The leader will help create an atmosphere of trust.

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