Department of Counseling
& Psychological Services

West Chester University

Julie Perone, Ph.D.
715 S. New Street
Commonwealth Hall Suite 60
West Chester, PA 19383
610-436-2301(Phone #)
610-436-3114(Fax #)

Questions and Answers About Group Therapy

What is Group Counseling?

Group Counseling is a form of treatment that focuses on the interpersonal relationships and social interactions that are a fundamental part of a group experience. Groups meet at regularly scheduled times and typically consist of 6 to 8 members. The process of "counseling" takes place as group members interact with one another and explore problems with everyone in the group; members gain insight into their own patterns of behaviors while still offering support to others.

The Counseling Center strives to provide a safe and comfortable place on campus where students can work through their problems. An added benefit of group counseling is that it inherently helps students who struggle with social interactions. Most groups are comprised of students from different majors, backgrounds, and life experiences but all of this adds to the wealth of insight that can be gleaned when group members come together to share and focus on problem resolution.

What are the goals of group counseling?

The goals of group counseling are grounded in the basis that it is a group and there are more individuals with different levels of experience in attendance to share in the process. The Counseling Center believes that groups provide a unique means of resolving conflict and problems because group members:

  • Both provide and receive support
  • Gain understanding and explore possible outcomes
  • Practice interpersonal skills in a safe setting
  • Receive feedback on how they are perceived by others
  • Enhance their problem-solving skills
  • Decrease social isolation
  • Develop better communication skills
  • Improve their emotional expressiveness

Why Group Counseling?

In reality, most personal problems are interpersonal in nature. Typically, personal problems stem from past and current relationships or from the patterns of relating to one another that are unique to the individual. Group counseling offers the rare opportunity to better understand how people relate to one another and provides an opportunity to receive specific feedback in a supportive setting.

Many students report effective and quick results as a result of being a group member. The group leader(s) also set the stage for trust and safety in the group. Once an individual experiences that safety in that setting, it is easier to recreate it in other aspects of one's life, such as in classes, in work, in one's living situation, with family members, with friends and with an intimate partner.

How often do groups meet?

Groups typically meet weekly, on a scheduled day and time, and run for an entire semester. The group leaders ask for the student's commitment for the entire group so members will feel a sense of cohesion and safety, knowing who will be there and who they can count on weekly. On occasion, groups that began in the Fall Semester will continue into the Spring Semester; this depends on the group leader and the decision and commitment of group members.

Is there a cost associated with Group Counseling?

There is no cost to attend groups. However, if you are an active member of a group and fail to notify the Counseling Center Front Desk personnel in ample time that you will not be able to attend a session, you will be assessed a "No Show" or "Late Cancellation" charge. This practice is analogous to the fee structure imposed by most doctors' offices. Knowing that others in the group look forward to having all members in attendance is important for the process of growth and change. Students have reported that the greatest progress was attained when they attended all scheduled sessions.