What is counseling?

Professional Student Mental Health Counseling is the work of professional counselors who assist young adults, and groups with diverse needs through challenges in their life journeys. Counselors take a developmental perspective that people grow and change throughout their lives. Professional counselors understand principles of human development, psychology, mental health and change theories, and they establish effective helping relationships with people from diverse cultures. Counselors are skilled in the assessment of people and situations, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, and in the application of cognitive, affective, behavioral and systemic strategies to facilitate change.

Professional student counselors help clients explore their concerns and assist them in creating change. They work with clients to implement personal goals and/or advocate for system-wide changes. As professional helpers, counselors are respectful and responsive to clients and offer a safe place for people to share their experiences and to explore ways to cope. Counselors are skilled in implementing therapeutic interventions designed to help clients challenged by a range of circumstances including: trauma, depression, anxiety, stress, unanticipated life events, interpersonal discord, social injustice, worksite disruption and career issues.

Confidential group counseling

In group counseling clients (approximatly 4-8 people) share their experiences with each other relating to a specific topic. These sessions may be longer than in individual counseling up to 90 minutes. Group settings may appear less intimate, but it is not a second-rate treatment - in fact it is the best approach for some problems. The experience of discovering one is not alone, and of being able to help other people, is powerfully encouraging and is often the first step towards getting better.

How do groups work?

The number of sessions depends upon the group's makeup, goals, and setting. Some are time limited known to all members at the beginning. Others are indeterminate, and the group and/or MH counselor determines when the group is ready to disband. Membership may be closed or open to new members. The therapeutic approach used usually depends on both the focus of the group and the therapist's orientation.

In group therapy sessions, members are encouraged to discuss the issues that brought them into therapy openly and honestly. The counselor works to create an atmosphere of trust and acceptance that encourages members to support one another. Ground rules may be set at the beginning, such as maintaining confidentiality of group discussions, and restricting social contact among members outside the group.

The counselor facilitates the group process, that is, the effective functioning of the group, and guides individuals in self-discovery. Depending upon the group's goals sessions may be either highly structured or fluid and relatively undirected. Typically, the facilitator steers a middle course, providing direction when the group gets off track, yet letting members set their own agenda. The counselor may guide the group by reinforcing the positive behaviors they engage in. For example, if one member shows empathy and supportive listening to another, the facilitator might compliment that member and explain the value of that behavior to the group. In almost all group therapy situations, the therapist will emphasize the commonalities among members to install a sense of group identity.


Please, send us an e-mail if you are interested in group work, to see what themes are available in a given semester.

  • Common questions and myths about group therapy and workshops