Each academic quarter, the Counseling and Wellness Center at Western Washington University holds a multitude of Therapy Groups, available to any student. This fall quarter, 11 different groups, including groups for anxiety and depression, are being offered.
These groups provide a different approach to mental wellness that a one-on-one session with a therapist does not. They allow for feedback and guidance from two licensed clinicians or psychologists, as well as connection with a group of peers, said Gabrielle Hope-Foucault, a coordinator of the Therapy Groups program.
“Just being in the same room with other people who are struggling with something similar decreases distress related to mental health because it decreases feelings of isolation,” Hope-Foucault said.
Some of these therapy groups have been offered for decades, she said. The Counseling and Wellness Center receives positive feedback from students every year, saying the groups program has been a positive experience for them.
“We consistently receive positive feedback at the end of the quarter on student surveys, letting us know that the group has been really helpful and supportive, and students feel a lot better after participating in a group,” Hope-Foucault said.
Based on this feedback and common presenting concerns, the groups may continue in the next quarter or new ones may be added, she said.
Any student can sign up for these groups; however, fall quarter groups are closed. There is a 10-person capacity for the groups so by week three or four of the quarter, they are typically full. They also require mandatory attendance each week, for the duration of the meeting, Hope-Foucault said.
Any student who wants to join a group can either be added to an interest list for the next quarter or schedule an assessment appointment with a counselor through the Counseling and Wellness Center, Hope-Foucault said.
“There tends to be a belief that individual therapy is the only thing that works. And that's just simply not true,” Hope-Foucault said.
The Therapy Groups program at Western can be a great resource that any student can take advantage of, but just may not know about.
“It’s really common for students to feel nervous or apprehensive about joining a group, but students aren’t alone in that feeling,” Hope-Foucault said.
Olivia Marty (she/her) is a campus life reporter for The Front. She is a sophomore majoring in public relations journalism. In her spare time, Olivia loves going thrifting, watching documentaries, and crafting. She can be reached at email@example.com.