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Intro to Group Counselling

Group Counselling

Sometimes group counselling is the best way to address certain personal issues rather than through individual appointments. At the Centre for Student Development and Counselling, we offer a number of group programs on topics ranging from managing stress and anxiety  to enhancing personal relationships. Groups can be:

  1. a single session focusing on a specific topic,
  2. comprised of a limited number of sessions in order to address an issue in a structured way, or
  3. an extended group counselling experience

All groups are free, led by trained counsellors, last for one to two hours, and take place in a comfortable, safe, and confidential environment.

Group counselling is not as good as individual counselling.

In fact, addressing your concerns in a group counselling format can often help in ways that individual counselling cannot.  For example, it provides an opportunity to receive support and to learn skills and coping strategies from a number of people who share many of your challenges and concerns.  It is also an opportunity to practice new skills and to get immediate feedback from both the facilitator and other participants. .As well, because groups meet on a weekly basis they can offer more continuity than individual counselling. If the recommendation of group counselling is made to you, it is based on the belief that it is an effective way of helping you.


I have so much trouble talking to people; I'll never be comfortable in a group.

Lots of people are anxious about being able to communicate in group. However, in most cases, with support and encouragement, people become more comfortable and open within a few sessions. It is also important to remember that group offers an opportunity to begin taking some risks in a safe and non-judgmental environment.

I will be forced to tell my deepest thoughts, feelings, and secrets to the group

You control what, how much, and when you share with the group. Most people find that when they feel safe enough to disclose what is troubling them, a group can be very helpful and affirming. You can also be helped by listening to others and thinking about how what they are saying might apply to you.


What I share won't be kept confidential

Confidentiality is always a condition of group membership and is discussed openly in the first session.  In every group, members and facilitators actively develop guidelines around privacy and confidentiality.


Group counselling will take longer than individual because I will have to share the time with others

Actually, group counselling is often more efficient than individual. Plus, you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little but listen carefully to others. You will probably find that you have much in common with other group members, and as they work on a concern, you can learn more about yourself. For these reasons, the group process can often accelerate individual change.


I’m afraid that I’ll be negatively judged by other group members

It is very important that group members feel safe and counsellors are there to help develop and ensure a supportive environment.  One of the benefits of group counselling is the opportunity to receive feedback from others.  It is rare to find friends who will gently point out how you might be behaving in ways that hurt yourself or others, but this is precisely what group can offer. This will be done in a respectful way, so that you can hear the feedback and make use of it.


(This text was adapted from that developed by Jack Corazzini, Virginia Commonwealth University)

The Centre offers two types of group programs. Open groups are continuous throughout the semester and may have a rotating membership. As topics form self-contained modules, members can start at any time. Open groups can be a valuable source of support for clients new to the Centre as well as those who have completed individual counselling. Closed groups run for a set period of time (usually four to eight weeks) and have an on-going stable membership. Topics in these groups are addressed in a sequential fashion.

All groups require that you first book an appointment with a counsellor in our Centre in order to discuss your goals and determine whether what is being offered will be compatible with your needs.

Detailed descriptions of our current group offerings follow.

Take Care of Your Feelings: Feel the Music

Wednesdays 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm located at Jorgenson Hall room JOR–06

Through emotion theory, and listening to music, this group will help you to become aware of your feelings to tease the different feelings apart, and to turn the column on your feelings up or down.


Take Care of the Relaxation: The Mindfulness Group

Thursdays 12:00 pm -1:00pm located at Jorgenson Hall room JOR–06

Take an hour to learn and practice mindfulness and relaxation strategies to help better manage stress, anxiety, and depression. Understand how to adapt these skills to your day-to-day life.


Take Care of Your Thoughts: Shift Your Thinking

Fridays 1:00pm – 2:30pm located at Jorgenson Hall room JOR–06

Learn to change your thinking from negative to more realistic patterns. Discover tools to identify unhelpful thinking styles, and examine how to shift your thinking.


Take Care of Your Setbacks:  Failure Is Not an 'F' Word (starting Feb.15)

Thursdays 2:30pm – 4:00 pm located at Podium Building room POD-50B

For many students "failure" can be devastating because they personalize it.  Learn how to gain wisdom from past failures, reduce your fear of future setbacks, and develop strategies for increasing your personal and academic resilience.



Do you find it hard to meet new people? Do you “shy” away from social situations or classroom presentations? In this group you will learn ways to manage your shyness and make it work to your advantage.



Communication, social and conflict resolution skills are needed to navigate and maintain all intimate relationships. Join us if you think you need to improve on some or all of these dating and couples skills.



This group will provide you with the opportunity to gain skills in changing negative and self-defeating thoughts, shifting your attitude and improving your mood.



These groups address topics that matter to the GBQ men’s and LBQT women’s communities including making friendships and finding community, healthy sexual and intimate relationships, self-esteem, body image and managing family response to our sexuality and gender expressions.



Everyone experiences loss in their own way, but nobody needs to carry the grief on their own. In a supportive atmosphere, group member will share their loss as well as ides and materials they have found helpful.



This group explores the relationships you had/have in your family and how family baggage continues to have an impact on your relationships with yourself as well with others.



Are you hard on yourself or do you put yourself down a lot? This group will help you to reduce self-criticism and to see yourself through more compassionate eyes.



Do you often think about worse case scenarios? Do other people believe you worry excessively? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions “Worrywart” may be right for you.



The Quit Procrastinating group is an opportunity for you to better understand your procrastination, become more aware of your patterns, thoughts and feelings related to ‘putting things off’ and start taking steps to get your work done!



This is a group where people who have experienced sexual violence come together to support one another. The focus of the group is on expanding coping skills, strengthening self-care, and nurturing relationships with the self and others.