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Curious about how group helps W&M students?

Why do we collect data on our groups?

Although the effectiveness and power of group has been well-established through decades of research, it felt important to clinicians at the William & Mary Counseling Center (WMCC) to more fully understand how our students experience group therapy in our center.  So, for the last few semesters we have asked students to anonymously share about their experiences in our therapy groups. 

What kinds of questions do we ask?

We ask students to anonymously complete a set of surveys at several points during their group experience.  These surveys ask questions about group members’ psychological health and well-being, and whether group has helped them feel hopeful, safely express how they feel, increase awareness of their interpersonal impact, and learn from other group members.  Students also complete a survey about their satisfaction with group services at the end of each semester. 

What does our sample look like?

We offered 8-9 groups during our most recent data collection cycles.  Approximately half of our groups were Understanding Self and Others groups and the other half were themed for women, anxiety, graduate students, and eating concerns (see our available groups for more information).  Groups ranged in size from 4-8 members, ran for 6-11 sessions, and had 1-3 leaders.  In the last year or so, we have helped approximately 129 students in 163 group sessions. 

What have we found?

As we hoped and expected to find, many students benefitted from being in our groups!  Students reported that they experienced greater: 

  • Psychological health and well-being, including interpersonal effectiveness, optimism, life satisfaction, and positive self-appraisal
  • Hope, inspiration about the future, and empowerment to make a difference in their own lives
  • A sense of belonging with and caring from other members
  • Ability to securely express their emotions despite differences between members
  • Understanding of their family’s impact on their lives, their own impact on others, and the importance of people in their lives
  • Belief that they have something in common with people in and outside the group
  • Enhanced ability to understand their personal patterns
  • Learning by observing others

For group members who completed the satisfaction survey:

  • 100% felt that group helped them deal more effectively with their concerns
  • 100% felt that the center is welcoming and inclusive of different cultures
  • Nearly 95% indicated they would return to the center for help
  • About 90% would recommend our services to a friend
What else do W&M students say about their group experience?

Students who participated in our groups stated:

My group's experience was incredibly powerful as I felt we immediately bonded as individuals and became friends over the course of our meetings. We are all very open with each other and everyone was respectful of feelings, opinions, and views. I love how diverse our group is in race, age, and status on campus.”

Honestly, group is what I looked forward to the most every week. I liked how we could really make the group environment one that would help us the most.  The relationships formed were also just so incredible! The biggest takeaway is the realization that I am not alone and that there are people who struggle with exactly the same things I do.”

I was initially hesitant about group therapy, but found the experience to be incredibly positive and intriguing.  The work done was unlike any I have done before, and I look forward to pursuing it again in the future.”

I would and have recommended this experience to many people.”

My group counseling experience was very good!  It was a very safe space to explore my problems and those of other students…Overall it was a great experience…

It’s been a wonderful experience.  I like the size and how the group closed so that there wasn’t a constant flow of members coming in and out…

Group really helped me to open up about my issues and be more confident in myself.”

It was really nice to know I had people to talk to that have had a variety of experiences…

What does this mean for W&M students?

In our experience, greater psychological health and well-being, interpersonal effectiveness, hopefulness, feeling cared for and belonging with others, honest emotional expression, and insight into relational dynamics (to name a few) can improve many concerns, including symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.  And, as you can see, many W&M students report that they have benefitted from our therapy groups. This means that students who fully invest their time in a WMCC group could benefit in many ways!

If you are interested in getting connected with an available 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 what to expect in group counseling and our information about online groups.