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Group Therapy and Skills Clinics

What is Group Therapy?

Therapy groups are a form of psychotherapy, focusing on developing insight and behavior change. Five to eight group members meet with one or two group therapists once per week for 90 minutes throughout the semester. Small groups of students meet and share common concerns, explore personal issues, and learn new skills under the guidance of one or two professional leaders. CAPS offers general therapy groups for all students, groups for particular populations (e.g., graduate students, undergraduate students, men, women, students diagnosed with autism, and other underrepresented populations), and groups for particular concerns (e.g. sexual assault, eating disorders, grief/loss, social anxiety).

What is a Skills Clinic?

Skills Clinics are a brief, structured form of group counseling. In a Skills Clinic five to eight members meet for 90 minutes once per week for three to four sessions/weeks. Topics are specific to presenting concerns (e.g. stress, anxiety, perfectionism, eating disorders) and skills that can be developed as a result of attending these clinics (e.g. mindfulness, self-compassion, relationship effectiveness). The primary goal of Skill Clinics is to offer specific strategies students learn to implement in their daily lives for managing distress and improving day-to-day functioning and effectiveness.

How do I join a Therapy Group or Skills Clinic?

A referral to a therapy group or skills clinic needs to be made through a therapist at CAPS. If you have not had a phone screening or an in-person first appointment, those appointments should be scheduled prior to joining a group. In most cases, an evaluation with the group's therapist is scheduled prior to joining. This evaluation helps to determine whether a group is likely to meet your needs and whether you will fit well with a particular group's composition.

Once a group forms, it is often closed to new referrals for that semester. During group sessions, members discuss issues and offer support and feedback to one another. Personal growth stemming from these interactions is essential to the group process. Group members are committed to learning about themselves and their relationships.

The starting dates for the groups will vary. Enrollment is free and can be made directly through a therapist at CAPS. Confidentiality is strictly respected.

Drop-In Support Groups

CAPS also offers Drop-In Support Groups throughout the academic year. Intended to be support-focused for specific populations in the Penn State student community, these groups do not require a referral from a CAPS provider. Students can review the drop-in group options and stop on by at the respective group time/location with no long term commitment expected.

What Clients Say About Group Therapy

What did you like about this group?

  • "Everyone made me feel welcome to come and open up, despite how hard this normally is for me."
  • "I love the people and how I can speak my mind with no judgment. I feel good afterward."
  • "I did not have to worry about being judged in this group."

In what ways did you learn about yourself or how you relate to others from this group?

  • "I learned that I internalize, and others may not even know I'm hurting."
  • "I'm not alone and my thoughts and actions aren't wrong or crazy."
  • "I opened up a lot more than I thought I would and I learned a good deal about how I compare to others with my emotions and how we can all help each other."

How was group different than what you expected?

  • "I felt it was easier to discuss things that are normally difficult for me to discuss."
  • "I was afraid of opening up to so many people, but it was not so bad."

What would you tell other students who might be hesitant to join a therapy group?

  • "It's a little scary but totally worth it and it helps you get better."
  • "I credit group with my many successes at PSU. It helped me through tough times."
  • "People aren't there to judge you. If you feel alone with your problems, it is good to see that other people have them too."
  • "Group is the best way to explore one of the most important and pervasive parts of life: other people and your interactions with them."
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Group Counseling
Penn State Student Affairs
Counseling & Psychological Services
Main Location

501 Student Health Center
University Park, PA 16802

Additional Locations

3rd Floor Bank of America Career Services Building
University Park, PA 16802

Allenway Building (Downtown)
315 S Allen Street
State College, PA 16801