Working on Wellness: The power of group support

By: Janis Mallon

University Health & Counseling Services will soon be offering a number of groups in 156 Upton Hall between 3:30 and 4:30 to help students gain skills in managing stress, adjusting to college life, improving self-compassion and developing more satisfying relationships.

Chill Skills, led by Rebecca Reid Brainerd and Sarah Kelly, will meet Mondays in October and will focus on recognizing and managing stress and anxiety effectively.

Sarah Kelly will lead a Mindful Walking group on the Gorham campus on Tuesdays in October for those who want to enjoy nature and gentle movement while focusing their awareness.

Vicki Libby and Samantha Seebode will host Bold Arrivals on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 5:30, a group designed to help students new to USM navigate the college experience. It will start on October 1 and will continue through the semester.

On the 1st and 3rd Thursdays starting in October Liza Little and Dani Cimino will offer Self-compassion and Happiness Practice to help students reduce self-criticism and improve mood.

On the alternate 2nd and 4th Thursdays, Diane Geyer and Jillian Littlefield will address Ourselves & Others, a group focused on improving social connections.

All these groups are open to all and require no pre-registration – just show up!

Groups provide powerful opportunities to make connections with others, learn and practice skills such as healthy communication and stress management, and perhaps most importantly can show members that they are not alone in their struggles.

Many students come to counseling because they feel lonely and want to make friends. Joining a group can be the first step in making a new friend. It can be so helpful to practice skills together, to hear alternate points of view, and to share small victories and accomplishments with supportive others.

It is easy in today’s world, where we are bombarded with social media, to feel very isolated, particularly when we are feeling anxious, awkward, or tend to be too hard on ourselves. Group work with a trained facilitator can help instill hope that change is possible and can illustrate ways that others have dealt with similar challenges.

Ground rules such as confidentiality, mutual respect and a non-judgmental stance help create the supportive container of the group. Members can validate one another, encourage healthy change and celebrate one another’s accomplishments. Participating in group offers many benefits, not the least of which is the opportunity to help others.

Check out one of the upcoming group offerings. You have nothing to lose, and might very well find thatparticipating in group becomes one of the things you look forward to most in your busy week.

Have questions? Feel free to stop into either our Portland (105 Payson Smith) or Gorham (156 Upton) offices,
or give us a call at 207-780-4697 or 207-780-5411.

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