Counseling Services off ers weekly group session in Health Center

New this semester, Counseling Services is providing a weekly group counseling session in the Health Center, specifically aimed to help students better understand the effects of anxiety and how to cope with its symptoms.

These hour-long group sessions, held at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays, educate students on anxiety while offering them the opportunity to share any personal experiences or struggles.

Timothy Hall, assistant director of prevention and outreach, said that group counseling has been found to be rather effective and helpful to students in the past.

“When you’re in a group, you are afforded the opportunity not just to meet with a counselor, but you also have the ability to connect with other students who may be having a similar experience to you,” said Hall.

With BW being such a small school, students are often hesitant to come to a group therapy session, said Dr. Sophia Kallergis, director of Counseling Services.

At each meeting, it is made clear that all information disclosed is not to be shared. These sessions are a safe and private space, said Hall.

The group sessions allow students to freely discuss feelings of anxiety while giving them the chance to
relate to others.

Once students realize that others are experiencing the same struggles, they may not feel as alone or isolated, said Hall.

“Sometimes it can be helpful to know that others are struggling in a similar way,” said Kallergis. “It helps normalize it.”

Besides making connections between students, the sessions focus on providing a better understanding of anxiety and teaching various skills to help reduce symptoms.

“There are certain tools you can have in your tool belt for when you’re feeling anxious,” said Kallergis.

The failure to pay attention to basic self-care, like sleep, diet, and exercise, often results in the worsening of anxiety symptoms, said Hall.

“That’s really the foundation of mental wellness, how you’re taking care of yourself,” said Hall.

A resource that may be utilized during the sessions is the online self-help tool, Therapy Assisted Online (TAO).

TAO allows students to explore a variety of tools and modules that help with better understanding their feelings and personal experiences.

This interactive module allows students to see which strategies work best for them personally, said Kallergis.

“That’s the thing with therapy, there’s no cookie cutter approach,” said Kallergis. “You would know yourself best, you would know what would work and what wouldn’t.”

TAO is accessible to students 24/7 and allows for the discovery of which methods of reducing anxiety best suit the user.

The online self-help tool and group counseling sessions are great initial jumpstarts on treatment, said Hall.

“These kinds of tools don’t replace therapy, but they are the kind of things one can do to be as successful as possible and take care of themselves,” said Hall.

All First Year Experience (FYE) courses this semester are required to introduce TAO to their freshman students.

During high stress times like midterms and finals, Counseling Services will offer certain resources to help students.

Currently, the Center for Alcohol and Related-issues Education (CARE) office is working with Counseling Services to plan BW Stress Less Week 2019. This will include multiple de-stressing stations across campus. There will be more information on this as finals week approaches.