The William & Mary Counseling Center will be offering our therapy groups online during the Fall 2020 semester. Because we trust in the power and efficacy of group therapy, we are excited to adapt our group program during this challenging time. Although online groups may feel a little different than in-person groups, recent research suggests that telemental health services are as effective as in-person services for many psychological concerns. Additionally, research suggests that online groups are well-received by clients1 and comparable to in-person groups for improving relationships4, exploring similar themes, reducing symptom severity, having a strong connection to a therapist, and clients’ satisfaction with treatment3. Online groups can also be easier to access and attend, which improves treatment outcomes2.
We have worked hard to attend to the unique privacy considerations of online groups. To protect members’ confidentiality, all groups are offered using the secure, encrypted Zoom Healthcare videoconferencing software. Safeguarding privacy and confidentiality is also the whole group’s responsibility and we ask members to find a quiet, private space where they will not be overheard or observed by others during sessions. Fostering interpersonal connection between members is vital to groups, so we ask members to enable both audio and video so that everyone can hear and see each other clearly. The right technology is also essential to benefitting from an online group, so we recommend that members have a strong internet connection, minimize distractions, wear headphones for privacy, and use the largest screen available to them so that they can clearly see all participants’ faces. These and other considerations are reviewed in the group guidelines that all members agree to before starting group.
If you are interested in participating in an online group, please call the Counseling Center at (757) 221-3620 and ask to schedule a triage appointment. Be sure to request group when you meet with a clinician! For more information about group, check out our available groups, what to expect in group counseling, and what W&M students say they experience in our groups.
- Gentry, M.T., Lapid, M.I., Clark, M.M., Rummans, T.A. (2019) Evidence for telehealth group-based treatment: A systematic review. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 25, 327-342. doi:10.1177/1357633X18775855
- Lopez, A., Rothberg, B., Reaser, E., Schwenk, S., & Griffin, R.J. (2020). Therapeutic groups via video teleconferencing and the impact on group cohesion. mHealth, 6, 1-9. doi:10.21037/mhealth.2019.11.04
- Marton, K. & Kanas, N. (2016) Telehealth modalities for group therapy: Comparisons to in-person group therapy. International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 66, 145-150, doi:10.1080/00207284.2015.1096109
- Weinberg, H. & Rolnick, A. (2020). Online Group Therapy. In Theory and practice of online therapy: Internet-delivered interventions for individuals, groups, families, and organizations (pp. 159-207). New York, NY: Routledge.