Group Counseling at University Counseling Services
In group counseling, a small number of people meet together with one or two of our psychologists to help themselves and one another. Joining a group provides opportunities to learn with and from other people, to understand one's own patterns of thought and behavior and those of others, and to perceive how group members react to one another. You learn that perhaps you're not as different as you think, or that you're not alone. You'll meet and interact with people, and the whole group learns to work on shared problems. Group counseling helps people make significant changes so they feel better about the quality of their lives.
"I'm not comfortable talking in a group or sharing my problems with strangers.”
- It is common to feel uncomfortable at times when sharing, but most people find their feelings of safety and willingness to talk increases as the group progresses.
- Individuals often come to look forward to group because they feel some connection to other members and start to feel some confidence in building new skills.
- In these skills-based groups, you do not have to share a lot to gain a lot.
“How can this group help me?”
- Our skills-based groups focus on developing strategies for coping with stressors faced by students at Boston College.
- If you have been referred to a group, a UCS clinician believes that this is the best step at this time.
“All anxiety is bad, and group will eliminate all anxiety.”
- Some anxiety is a natural and adaptive part of life. Avoidance in fact builds and maintains unhealthy anxiety. The goal of group is to develop skills for making anxiety more manageable.
- These skills require practice, but will help you form healthier habits for managing the distress we all experience.
- Some students may opt to schedule a consultation with the group clinician at the end of group to discuss best next steps if they feel additional help is needed.
“My problems are not as bad as others’, or are worse than others’ problems, so I won’t fit in.”
- Group may provide a place for you to experience compassion for yourself and others, without having to decide who deals with the worst problem.
- Relief can be accelerated when we truly recognize that we are not alone in our struggles.
“I am uncomfortable being in group with one of the other members.”
- The group leader can confidentially help you explore the extent of the conflict and make adjustments as needed. We will work with you to find the best fit and solution for your level of comfort and progress in treatment.
“If I decide I don’t like group, can I just stop coming?”
- Group members are encouraged to attend all 4 sessions in the cycle as each session will provide new tools and support. However, you may decide to stop coming at any point. We encourage you to speak with the group clinician prior to leaving to explore any other possible resolutions.
"I will be forced to tell my deepest thoughts and feelings and group members will talk about me outside of group."
- There’s an expectation of confidentiality within the group. Everyone will be encouraged to participate but you decide for yourself how much personal information you would like to share. You only share as much as you feel comfortable with.
SKILLS FOR ANXIETY MANAGEMENT GROUP
The Anxiety Management Group is for students who struggle with overwhelming anxiety. In the group students will learn about anxiety and develop skills to better manage their anxiety. The group meets on Monday afternoons. To schedule a brief meeting to learn more about the group, please call 617.552.3310.
DBT COPING SKILLS GROUP
The DBT Coping Skills Group is for students who struggle to control their emotions or behavior. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a well-established treatment model in which members learn specific skills for reducing their suffering and regaining control of their lives. These skills address the following:
- Mindfulness for experiencing and accepting life as it is
- Distress tolerance for surviving pain and crisis without making things worse
- Emotional regulation for reducing vulnerability, reactivity, and suffering
- Interpersonal effectiveness for getting needs met, saying no and managing conflict
The group is structured a class or workshop. Group time will be focused on teaching and practicing skills rather than on open discussion. Members problems will be seen as opportunities for learning and practicing skills.
Members must commit to (1) being in individual therapy for the semester, (2) attending every group session, and (3) completing homework practices each week. Members must also agree to follow a set of group guidelines (e.g., to maintain the confidentiality of the group).
The group will begin a few weeks after the start of the semester and end when classes end. The group will meet weekly for 1 hour and 20 minutes in University Counseling Services (Gasson 001).
Please contact the group facilitator, Sandro Piselli, Ph.D., for more information: 617-552-3310 firstname.lastname@example.org
To Hell and Back, a podcast hosted by Charlie Swenson, MD that covers DBT skills
DBT Self Help: A non-professional website that provides lots of useful information.
UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: free guided meditations
The following videos explain some of the material covered in the DBT Skills Group. Please note that some of the videos have been created by mental health professionals (e.g., the ones featuring Dr. Marsha Linehan, the creator of DBT), while others were created by people who have been in DBT programs and want to share their non-professional knowledge.
Mindfulness: States of Mind
Mindfulness: "What" Skills
- Observe: just notice experiences in the present moment without labeling them.
- Describe: just name the things you observe without judgment or interpretation.
- Participate: throw yourself into the present moment completely and mindfully.
Mindfulness: "How" Skills
- Non-judgment: notice and let-go of evaluations (i.e., "good," "bad," or "should").
- One-mindfulness: focus your full attention on just one thing or task in the present moment.
- Effectiveness: focus on what works or what is needed to achieve your goals.
Mindfulness: Other Approaches to Mindfulness
- Loving Kindness: increase feelings of love and compassion for yourself and others. (Another video here.)
Emotion Regulation: Understanding Emotions
- Introduction to Emotion Regulation
- Figure out Your Emotions: observe that your emotions make sense and are important.
- Mindfulness of Current Emotions
Emotion Regulation: Changing Emotions
- Check the Facts: observe whether your emotions fit the facts or your interpretations.
- Opposite Action: decrease an unjustified or ineffective emotion by acting opposite to an urge.
- Problem Solving: change a justified emotion by identifying and resolving its cause.
Emotion Regulation: Reducing Vulnerability
- Accumulate Positives: guard against pain by increasing pleasant experiences.
- Build Mastery: guard against helplessness by doing things that make you feel competent.
- Cope Ahead: prepare yourself by imagining difficult moments and rehearsing effective coping.
- PLEASE: increase resiliency by taking care of your physical needs.
- Let Go of Emotional Suffering: practice mindfulness and acceptance of painful emotions.
Distress Tolerance: Crisis Survival Skills
- Introduction to Crisis Survival Skills and What is a Crisis
- STOP: avoid impulses by Stopping, Taking a step back, Observing, and Proceeding mindfully. (More videos here and here.)
- Pros and Cons: make a wise choice by listing the pros and cons of two different options.
- TIP: reduce arousal rapidly by using Temperature, Intense exercise, or Paced breathing
- Distract: reduce contact with pain by turning your attention to something else.
- Self-Soothe: get relief from pain by doing something kind or comforting for yourself.
- IMPROVE the Moment: make pain easier to tolerate by creating positive experiences.
Distress Tolerance: Reality Acceptance
- Radical Acceptance: open yourself fully to experiencing the facts of reality as they are. (More videos here and here.)
- Turn the Mind: consciously re-commit to accepting reality over-and-over again.
- Willingness: actively prepare to participate in life, letting go of willfulness.
Interpersonal Effectiveness: Clarifying Goals
- Clarify Priorities: rank-order your objective, relationship, and self-respect goals.
Interpersonal Effectiveness: Objectives Effectiveness
- DEAR MAN: prioritize getting what you want by asking for it clearly and effectively. (Another video here, and an example DEAR MAN.)
- GIVE: prioritize your relationship by being Gentle, Interested, Validating, and Easy.
- FAST: prioritize your self-respect by being Fair, un-Apologetic, Stick to values, and Truthful.
- Discussion of Boundaries
Interpersonal Effectiveness: Building Relationships
- Find Relationships: actively look for connections, make conversation, and join-in.
- End Relationships: recognize destructive relationships and end them skillfully.
Other Useful Videos
Want to improve your relationships or feel better about yourself? Interested in connecting in a deep and meaningful way with other students? Are you noticing a pattern in your relationships that you’d like to change or understand better? Do you struggle or get anxious in social situations? Would you like honest feedback about how you relate to others? This group will provide a safe, supportive space to explore your feelings, connect with others, and practice new behaviors that can ultimately lead to more fulfilling relationships.
In this group, members try to “think out loud” by expressing their thoughts and feelings about what others say or do in group. Members are also encouraged to ask other members for feedback in order to learn more about themselves and how others might perceive them. The main goal is for group members to determine possible changes that might improve their connections and interactions with others and themselves and then begin making these changes. Understanding Self and Others groups are a good match for those wanting a mixture of support and feedback regarding their goals and how they relate to others.
Please contact the group coordinator, Dr. Emily Kates, for more information: 617-552-3310 & email@example.com
Additional Resources on Group:
This page links to pdf files. Use this link to download Adobe Reader, if needed.
- HEAL is a confidential support group for students who are survivors of sexual violence
- HEALTH COACHING through the Office of Health Promotion
- INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENT SUPPORT is a support group for international graduate student
- HORIZON is a community support group for gay, bisexual, queer and questioning men
- PRISM is a group for queer, lesbian, bisexual, gender-transcending and questioning women
- DIOP consists of a synergetic group of AHANA men who gather to share in a common bond and discuss issues that affect their social, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual growth
- SISTERS, LETS TALK is a support and discussion group that seeks to facilitate connections between women students of color as well as women faculty and staff of color
- HOPE is a support group for students who have experienced the loss of a loved one
- ZEN MEDIATION is a group for students, faculty and staff to learn together about the practices of mindfulness and meditation
- TOGETHER consists of members of the BC community who are children or siblings of someone who is or has been incarcerated. If you would like to be a part of a relaxed group of students/faculty with similar experiences that meet, eat and hang out, we would love to meet you! Email Professor Celeste Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org) to get more information about our confidential group