Understanding Self and Others (USO) groups are centered around the idea that everything in life is interpersonal. Relationships can both contribute to distress and be powerful agents of healing and change. USO groups provide a safe and supportive environment where everyone works together to move toward their goals by learning how to create meaningful connections with each other. Group members develop insight about themselves and their relationship patterns, identify and explore feelings, and learn better ways to communicate with others.
Some concerns that are commonly addressed in USO groups include:
- Nervousness or anxiety when talking to others
- Difficulty making friends or connecting with other people
- Difficulty forming or maintaining romantic relationships
- Experiencing frequent conflict with other people
- Low self-esteem or allowing others to treat you poorly
- Worrying about how you come across to others
It’s not uncommon for group members to tell us that they were skeptical about joining a USO group at first, but afterward were so glad that they did. Members have commented about the strong bonds they formed with others in the group and how the group helped them understand themselves and their relationships better.
What is group counseling?
In group counseling, about 5-8 students meet virtually with one or more group leaders and talk about what is troubling them. Group counseling is different from other social settings because it is a confidential and safe environment. The members of the group give each other feedback 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.
Why should I join a USO group instead of individual therapy?
Group is a chance to get multiple perspectives, feedback, and support in a confidential and safe environment. By contrast, individual counseling offers you only one perspective. Many people are surprised to learn that group counseling is as effective as individual counseling, and for some concerns it is more effective. In addition, while you will always be able to find an individual therapist in your life, USO groups are unique, and finding similar groups may be difficult once you leave college.
What if I feel anxious in groups? Will I be judged or criticized by the leaders or the other group members?
It is normal to feel nervous about starting group counseling. Most new group members experience fears of rejection and embarrassment when starting group. Almost without exception, within a few sessions people find that they do begin to talk in the group. You will never be forced to share anything you do not want to share. Group leaders are there to create a safe environment for all involved.
One of the benefits of group counseling 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.
What if I see someone I know in the group?
This situation is very uncommon, but does occasionally happen. If you see someone you know in the group, we ask that you let the group leaders know as soon as possible so that the situation may be addressed. 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 same group, or it may be best to have one of you find a different group to join.
Is there a cost?
Enrolled students are eligible for a total of up to six covered services at CAPS, whether they are individual or group sessions. Beyond that, sessions are billed to insurance, or for students who don’t have insurance, CAPS also offers self-pay rates.
How do I join?
All USO group members are required to attend a 30-minute virtual group orientation meeting with one or both of the group leader(s) prior to joining. If you think you may be interested in joining a USO group but aren’t ready to commit, the group orientation meeting is an opportunity to get all your questions answered and to decide whether USO is a good fit for you.
If you have questions about our USO groups, or would like more information about getting started, please contact Jen Grzegorek, PhD at firstname.lastname@example.org.