What is Group Therapy?

Group Therapy is a form of therapy that provides a unique opportunity for growth and change. We offer group therapy at CAPS because research consistently indicates it is an effective treatment choice for many people. Group therapy provides a safe and trusting environment where students can gain support, share experiences and struggles, receive feedback from others, and try out new behaviors. Although some students are apprehensive at first about joining a group, ultimately most students report that their group experience was helpful and exceeded their expectations.

How do I join a Group?

A referral to a group can be made by a CAPS counselor, or by scheduling a group screening appointment with the group leader. Unless the group you are interested is designated as a “drop-in” group, students should schedule a group screening with the group facilitator prior to group participation. This screening not only gives you the opportunity to meet with the group facilitator and address any questions you might have, but also helps both you and the group facilitator determine whether a group will meet your needs.

What Are Students Saying About Group Therapy?

"I loved having a safe space to practice opening up to many different people."

"I am extremely grateful for the existence of the group program because I suspect that I would not have been able to pass all my classes without it. THANK YOU!!"

"I really enjoyed group so much that I think that it helped me not need individual therapy as much."

"This was an extremely rewarding experience. I learned a lot about myself and other students and have goals to work on after group."

"It’s an experience that can’t be had in one on one therapy, found it very helpful."

"The experience was great!"

'I think this program was wonderful and that everyone should do it!"

Common Fears and Misconceptions about Group Therapy

"Do I have to reveal all of my deepest secrets and feelings to the group?"

No, you do not have to do that! You decide how much you want to share and no one can force you to reveal your secrets or feelings. Most group members tend to share more about themselves when they feel safe in the group. While we recognize that sharing can sometimes be uncomfortable, we also know that many members report getting more out of group when they decide to share more aspects of themselves. We encourage you to be aware of your pace for group involvement and to share when you feel comfortable doing so.

"Because there are so many group members, I’m afraid I’ll have few opportunities to talk."

Figuring out how to get your needs met in group is a very common concern among members. If you find yourself needing more time in the group, we recommend that you bring it up within the group. Group is an excellent place to work on assertiveness!

"I have so much trouble talking to people; I’ll never be able to share in a group."

Most people are anxious about being able to talk in group. Almost without exception, within a few sessions people find that they do begin to talk in the group. Group members can relate to your fear or reluctance to talk in the group, so you will most likely get a lot of support for beginning to talk in the group.

"I am shy by nature; I won’t be able to talk as much as the other group members."

That’s really ok. It’s normal that some members will talk less than other members in the group. You can tell the group that you’re shy. We encourage group members to be respectful of individual differences. You can take your time to open up to the group.

"Group therapy will take longer than individual therapy because I will have to share the time with others."

Actually, group therapy is often more efficient than individual therapy for two reasons. First, you can benefit from the group even during sessions when you say little but listen carefully to others. You will find you have much in common with other group members, and as they work on a concern, you can learn more about yourself. Secondly, group members will often bring up issues that strike a chord with you, but that you might not have been aware of or brought up yourself.

"I will be verbally attacked by the leaders or by other group members."

It is very important that group members feel safe. A primary role of group leaders is to create a safe, trusting environment. Feedback can initially be difficult to hear, so group leaders assist members in first delivering positive feedback to one another. As group members come to trust and accept each other, they generally experience feedback and even confrontation as a sign of caring. One of the benefits of group therapy is the opportunity to receive feedback from others in a supportive environment. 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, gentle way, so that you can hear it and make use of it

Frequently Asked Questions About Group Therapy

"How can group counseling be as effective as individual counseling? I’m concerned I’ll 'lose out.'"

Most individuals are pleasantly surprised at how much they gain from participating in a group. Unlike individual counseling, group therapy provides invaluable opportunities for you to connect with others who might have similar problems, practice new interpersonal skills in a group context, and gain multiple perspectives on your concerns from different group members.

"What does a typical group session look like?"

Groups at CAPS vary significantly in session format. Many groups are structures or semi-structured; these groups are somewhat similar to experiential workshops in that most group sessions focus on a particular topic. Each session usually consists of brief lectures by the group leader, group discussions, and experiential activities.

CAPS also offers Connect and Explore groups that typically are much less structured. There isn’t a specific topic for each group session. Members are welcome to bring any issues to the group that they feel are important, and the primary focus of therapy in the group is on the interactions among group members. This occurs as members give each other feedback on their interpersonal styles and identify ways in which they feel more connected to one another.

Please click on this link in order to learn more about the variety of groups that we are offering this semester. You may also set up an Initial Consultation meeting with a CAPS counselor (by calling 802-656-3340) which will allow you to discuss with a counselor how groups work and how participation in a group might meet your needs.

"If I don’t like the group, can I get out of it?"

Yes, it’s possible to leave the group if you’re uncomfortable with it. We know that group is often uncomfortable in the beginning – if you feel this way, you are not alone! We also know that group members report feeling more comfortable after a few sessions, so most group leaders encourage their members to remain in the group for at least a few sessions before they decide to leave. If you do decide to leave the group after attending the first few sessions, most leaders ask that you come to the group one more time to say goodbye to the other members.

"What if a member of the group is my friend or classmate?"

We recognize that it might be awkward to be in the same group with a friend/classmate. Please let group leaders know immediately if you have an existing relationship with someone else in the group. If that happens, the group leaders, in consultation with the group members, will decide how best to resolve this situation. It may work out to have both of you stay in the group, or it may be best to have one of you find a different group to join. In the latter case, leaders will consult with you or your friend/classmate and do our best to find another appropriate group that matches your needs and schedule.

"How many people are in a typical group?"

Most groups have between 6-10 students and 2 group leaders.

"What kind of people join a group?"

Only UVM students are eligible to join our groups. Students who join our groups do so with different needs or concerns. In our structured groups, group members usually identify with a specific concern related to the group theme. For example, members who join the Attention Improvement with Mindfulness Group struggle with issues related to attention and focus. However, our Connect and Explore groups are made up of members with a variety of concerns, including anxiety, depression, relationship, and self-esteem issues.

"What role do group leaders play?"

Group leaders guide and facilitate self-exploration, give feedback and support, provide comments on interpersonal issues in the group, and encourage group cohesion. In our structured groups, group leaders take a more active role than in our Connect and Explore groups by providing instruction on specific topics related to the group theme.

"How long do groups last?"

Most groups last about 8-12 weeks; however some are only 4 or 5 weeks. Groups take a break over summer and winter vacations. You will be informed of your group’s duration before it starts.

"What type of groups do you offer?"

Select the "Current Groups" link on this page to find out!