The first semester of my junior year began and I started to notice I could really have used someone to talk to outside of my friends. Someone to help me better understand my emotions and help keep me on a path towards success. I have always tried to make my mental health a priority, so I decided to go to my university's counseling center.
I was first paired with a one-on-one counselor. Of course, she helped me, but ultimately she decided it would probably be a great experience for me to give group counseling a try. I was skeptical and pretty much against it at first, but I put my skepticism aside and went through with it. I was scared that warming up to more than one person would be complicated because one-on-one counseling was hard enough. I was afraid that the people would be judgmental of my thoughts and emotions. It is none of that at all.
The first day of group counseling we were reminded that the area is to be a safe space and that each therapist in the room is bound by confidentiality. We were then asked to keep anything said in the group, in the group. That reminder seems cliche. However, everyone in the room lived by it, and I could tell that each person in that room with me was genuine and would never talk to others about me negatively. Each person in the room with me was in that room for pretty much the same reason as I was.
A common misconception about group counseling is that is is much like an AA class. Not at all, mainly because if you are in group counseling for something non-alcoholic related you won't be talking about the things they talk about in AA classes, and it is not a class. The group counseling I participated in did not have a strict agenda. My group mates and I were able to talk about whatever we wanted to each day. Usually, someone would bring something to the table and conversation would go from there.
The most impactful part of group counseling was the last day. We were asked to ahead of time write to each group member. We were to write a thing that could use improvement and an area of growth that we noticed within each person. Then, on the last day, we were to read what we wrote out loud to each member. Initially, this scared me. I take what people think of me to heart and I was really worried that this would make me regret going to group, but it didn't. The people in that room saw things in me that I never knew of. It was one of the most amazing feelings walking out of group counseling that day.
Something I was most afraid of was not being able to ever voice my opinion, but it wasn't that complicated. I was actually able to speak quite often. It seems intimidating going into things like this, and it's anxiety-inducing for sure, but it is worth it. The first few sessions were the hardest, of course, but with time I was able to warm up to everyone and understand the process. For those who are in one-on-one counseling and feel as if it alone is not enough, I definitely recommend trying out group counseling if possible.