Group counseling

Counseling Services offers a variety of ongoing groups for currently enrolled students. In group counseling, five to eight individuals meet weekly to share their struggles and concerns with the facilitation of trained group therapists.

Group counseling provides a unique opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, encouragement and feedback from other individuals in a safe and confidential environment. Group members can expect to deepen their level of self-awareness and to learn how they relate to others. Group counseling can be a safe and supportive place to experiment with new ideas and ways of being.

Please note: You may participate in both group and individual counseling. Group counseling does NOT limit your access to individual counseling or other psychological services at Counseling Services.

Benefits of group

Group counseling is the most effective treatment for many emotional concerns, personal struggles and relationship issues that college students face. Although many students are initially intimidated or hesitant to participate in group counseling, most find that group counseling is helpful and positive.

Group counseling can help you:

  • Discover that you are not alone in your struggles, thoughts and feelings
  • Learn from other students with similar concerns
  • Better understand not only issues you’re struggling with, but also what is getting in the way of positive change
  • Learn new skills to manage your concerns more effectively
  • Be more aware of yourself through genuine feedback from others
  • Gain multiple perspectives on your concerns
  • Help others by providing feedback and offering insight from your own life lessons learned
  • Practice alternative ways of relating to others, including new interpersonal skills you can use outside of the group
  • Receive feedback to aid in resolving issues or concerns
  • Develop feelings of connection, trust and hope for growth

Types of groups

Counseling Services offers a variety of groups that may change each semester depending on availability and interest. The primary types are interpersonal process groups, which have no specific topic or theme, and structured groups, which are centered on a particular theme (i.e., distress tolerance, anxiety, depression). Groups focus on a particular topic each week and teach students how to use a variety of skills to manage stress and other concerns. If you are interested in a group that is not currently being offered, please check in with Counseling Services about accommodating your needs.

Personal Exploration and Process group

Often we experience stress in daily life, work, school, and in our relationships which can leave us feeling isolated and unsupported. Group sessions provide opportunities to receive support, feedback, and alternative strategies for coping with personal concerns.

Participants will learn how to better understand concerns they’re struggling with and how they relate to others. This program aims to help students develop feelings of connection, trust, and hope both within and outside of the group.

Facilitators: Allison Chambers, PsyD and/or counseling staff

Tolerating Distress Skills group

Learn skills to accept, find meaning for and tolerate distress. This is a structured group for individuals who have difficulty handling distress or react more intensely to certain emotional situations. In this group, members will learn how to deal with distressing events more effectively and practice skills such as mindfulness, distracting, self-soothing and radical acceptance.

Sessions consist of a brief lecture followed by group discussion. Participants can expect to increase their capacity to bear pain and distress skillfully to decrease suffering.

Facilitators: Patience McGinnis, PsyD and/or counseling staff

Cougar Care group

Ever feel like you’d love to slow down, but can’t? Wish you could feel more relaxed or focused? Cougar Care will help teach self-care strategies to improve performance and manage stress. Each session will introduce a relaxation technique. Then we stretch out, get comfortable and practice. Come to as many sessions as you like.

Relaxation techniques you may learn include visualization, breathing, mindfulness meditation and guided imagery. Each session focuses on a different skill.

Facilitators: Counseling Services staff

Get started

To schedule a group screening appointment, contact Counseling Services at 360-546-9238 or

Group screenings are 30-minute appointments with one or two group facilitators and are intended to assist you with identifying goals for the group, determining the best group for your individual needs and goals, learning more about the group experience, and answering any questions you may have about group counseling. The group facilitator(s) will also explain expectations for group membership, including confidentiality, attendance and participation.

Attending a group screening appointment does not obligate you to join the group. Rather, facilitators can assist you in determining if the group is the best fit for your goals, schedule and other needs.