Group Counseling

Group counseling is a powerful tool for growth and change. In group counseling, 5-10 individuals meet face to face to share their struggles and concerns with the facilitation of 1-2 group therapists. Group counseling is an effective treatment modality for many emotional concerns, personal struggles, and relationship issues that students face.

The power in group therapy lies in the unique opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, encouragement, and feedback from other individuals in a safe and confidential environment. These interpersonal interactions can provide group members an opportunity to deepen their level of self-awareness and to learn how they relate to others. Additionally, group counseling can be a safe and supportive place to experiment with new ideas and ways of being.

The University Counseling Center offers a wide array of groups to address the needs of GVSU students.  

Interested in joining group counseling? Contact our office at (616) 331-3266 to get started. 

Groups Offered at the University Counseling Center

  • Group sessions last from 60-90 minutes
  • Groups can vary significantly based on session format

Process Groups

These groups are helpful in addressing feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, self-esteem concerns, and challenges in relationships. Students will share experiences, give and receive support/feedback, and experiment with new interpersonal behaviors in a safe environment.

Our general therapy group is not topic-based and open to a variety of students with diverse concerns. This type of group can be a good fit if you are interested in experimenting with new thoughts, behaviors, and social skills. Group members share common concerns as well as individual issues.

Identity Groups

Identity groups refer to a person’s sense of belonging and sense of self. These groups provide students the ability to talk and build resiliency and dialogue around lived experiences. These groups aim to be a normalizing experience for each member.

This confidential group is open to registered GVSU students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Queer or who may be questioning their sexual identity. This group aims to be a normalizing experience for each member. We explore many factors that may be affecting our identity such as stereotypes, family, religion, meeting others, and many more. The focus of the group really depends on the needs of the group. This is not a “coming out” group, but there may be members who are in this process. There also may be members who have been “out” for years, but would like this opportunity to explore and share experiences/challenges with others sharing a similar identity. Overall, this group will help students figure out “where they fit in.” A commitment to attend each weekly meeting for the semester is required.  

This confidential support/discussion group is open to African American students who want the opportunity to dialogue about their experiences and their personal/professional goals. This group aims to create a community in which students feel empowered to explore and address life challenges.

This is a group for any student who identifies as a person of color. It is an unstructured group that aims to provide a safe and supportive environment for students of color to explore feelings, strengthen self-concept, and to help one another navigate experiences on campus. The group will explore ways in which identity as a student of color affects academic, personal, and social experiences.

Theme-based Groups

Theme-based groups combine education, process, and support based around a particular theme that group members share. Theme-based discussion includes specific topic and sharing of group member concerns. 

This group is for individuals who grew up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional environment and as a result may feel different than others. If you have trouble managing your feelings; have difficulty with relationships or meeting your own needs, this group may be for you. Topics will address learning healthy coping and healing. 

Support Groups

Support Groups are designed to help students whose lives are impacted by similar issues, to come together and receive information, support, and guidance from one another. These groups focus on providing a space for validation, encouragement, and mutual understanding. They present a safe space for exploration of thoughts, feelings, and reactions.

This group is for survivors of sexual trauma who want to come together to feel supported, validated, and empowered.  During the healing process, many people find that they experience shock, confusion, denial, fear, and anger.  In this group you will be able to explore these feelings in a safe, supportive environment.  Topics discussed will include coping skills, emotions, social support, and societal messages about sexual trauma.  Sharing personal experiences is not required and is subject to the comfort level of each group member.  Prior to starting group, students will be scheduled for a brief individual consultation with a group leader to explore goals and answer any questions.

This support group is for those who would like to explore their experiences with the death of a loved one or significant other. This group allows exploration of thoughts, feelings, and reactions to grief in a safe environment. Sharing personal experiences is not required and is subject to the comfort level of each group member. It is strongly encouraged that group members feel open to others’ experiences and the discussions of grief in this group. This group will meet for six (6) weeks during the semester and group members are strongly encouraged to commit to attending each week.

Skills-building Groups

These groups provide a space in which students can learn and practice tools for enhancing their well-being and managing specific concerns. These groups are usually more structured and involve more direct instruction from the group leader.

This group offers the opportunity to use art to express and process your feelings and experiences.  Each week will consist of a prompt to begin the art-making process; the group is not about the artistic value of the end product but the process of translating inner experiences into visual art.  Although no prior artistic background or skill is needed, students should be willing to take risks expressing themselves artistically.  Art materials will be provided, and students may choose to keep their art or leave it at the center.

This group will help students understand and improve the relationship between their minds, bodies, and emotions in a supportive environment. Topics discussed will include understanding body image, healthy and unhealthy eating, the relationship between stress and eating, and coping with body image concerns in a healthy way.

This 8-week program includes learning skills to become more effective in how you respond to your emotions, learning to experience strong emotions rather than being overwhelmed or controlled by them, and developing a new relationship with your emotions. This group also helps you identify your core values and learn to act on them in the "moment of choice," rather than acting on what your emotions tell you to do. This group will help you learn strategies to dial down your emotions even when they are very intense. All these skills will empower you to experience and respond to emotions in a way that will help you live a life more aligned with your values. This group includes experiential contact with emotions and is ideal for individuals who often avoid their emotions or feel overwhelmed by them.

This group introduces specific techniques for mindfully paying attention to emotions, improving interpersonal interactions, guiding one’s own emotional experience, and tolerating distress and unpleasant emotions with healthy coping skills. Each week you will practice new ways of thinking about and managing emotions. This group utilizes strategies from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

In this 5-week group, students will have the opportunity to join others who understand their experience in exploring attention management strategies, assessing their own executive functioning skills, and learning how to navigate attention-related challenges in their classes, interpersonal relationships, and careers. Key components of this group include an emphasis on the strengths those with ADHD bring to communities, self-compassion, and holistic approaches to mental health management.

This group focuses on learning how to establish and maintain healthy relationships while teaching members how to identify unhealthy relationship patterns. Group members will be introduced to techniques for creating appropriate boundaries and interpersonal communication skills and provides members the skills to make healthy decisions within their relationships. The group activities are designed for individual participants, although couples who are both GVSU students may benefit from attending the group. 

This experience-based group helps you learn skills to manage your anxiety, depression, and stress. One of the highlights of this group is the emphasis on learning breathing and relaxation skills that are found to be helpful in improving overall mentality as well as physical health. Another highlight of our group is the emphasis on addressing problematic thinking that interferes with personal and academic performances. This group also explores various skills and information that may help you manage your distress.

This group will help you develop strategies to manage your depression. We will provide assessments each week which will explore the unique aspects contributing to each group member’s distress. We will also explore mind-body types, as well as incorporate lifestyle changes to help maintain a healthy balance. 

This is an introduction to creating and incorporating an effective and ongoing mindfulness practice in all aspects of your life. This 4-week group is appropriate for beginners as well as anyone who wants to refresh the fundamentals of their practice. Both formal meditation practices and informal mindfulness practices will be reviewed. In this group, you will be introduced to mindfulness practices that might help you enhance performance with your academic, professional, and/or social life. Here is what you will learn: an overview of mindfulness, mindfulness of the body, obstacles to mindfulness, ways to use mindfulness to succeed in school and work

This group focuses on decreasing self-criticism, creating authenticity in relationships, and improving self-compassion. If you feel like you are never good enough and you spend a lot of time and energy pleasing others at the cost of yourself, this group’s aim is to help you be more self-accepting. You will learn how to utilize mindfulness techniques and critical thinking to build awareness and enhance compassion towards others and yourself.

This 8-week group is focused on building and practicing skills to better manage social anxiety and improve interpersonal effectiveness. The skills taught each week will build on the previous week, so a commitment to attend at least 7 sessions is necessary.

This group is designed to help students develop coping skills and strategies to manage stress.  Topics may include:  identifying and processing current stressors, relaxation techniques that really work, adaptive coping strategies, and time management skills.   


These outreaches are open to students on a drop-in basis, so you are welcome to attend one outreach or as many as you would like. Contact the University Counseling Center to sign-up: (616) 331-3266 

In this yoga practice, we will emphasize mind and body connectedness that involves postures, movement, and meditation. Yoga for Stress & Burnout will focus on enhancing psychological well-being that encourages improved concentration and mental clarity, being present, increased emotional stability, and reduced stress and anxiety, and an increased sense of peace. 

Page last modified April 17, 2023