In addition to individual counselling, the Advice and Counselling Service runs two therapy groups. These run from 2:15pm until 3:45pm both on Wednesdays or Fridays.
Group therapy offers the opportunity for longer-term therapy with input from peers as well as a group therapist, and students join on the understanding that they will attend consistently.
Both groups are facilitated by Nick Jones, a practising psychotherapist with extensive experience in group psychotherapy.
Group therapy works by inviting people to talk with others about themselves and each other. Each group consists of up to eight Queen Mary students, and one group therapist. There is no set agenda for any session, and it is up to each group member what to talk about. Everyone in the group agrees to respect one another’s confidentiality: this is essential in keeping the group safe and supportive. This gives the group scope to speak freely and very often, people find it to be somewhere they can speak safely about personal experiences. It is also common for people to find that they relate to other group members, and this can help deepen people’s sense of themselves and their relationships. Therapy groups also offer the opportunity for people to consider some of their assumptions about themselves or others, and to think about any patterns they find themselves repeating with others.
Benefits of group therapy often come to people who have been struggling for some time, often in relation to others. Some examples of these difficulties might be those who lack self confidence, those who find it difficult to talk in groups, those who have distorted beliefs about themselves and what others think about them, those who don't believe they have much to contribute, those who pretend to be happy but inside they are very sad, those find it hard to trust, those who are afraid to say what they really think, those who keep pushing people away even though they long for closeness, and anyone who finds it hard to make sense of their feelings or those of others and wants to learn and develop in this area.
People are often referred for group therapy over the course of their individual counselling. This is something your counsellor might suggest, or you are welcome to bring it up yourself if you find yourself interested in the possibility. You can also ask about group therapy when you first contact the Advice and Counselling Service. Prior to joining the group you would meet with Nick, the group therapist, usually at least a couple of times. These meetings would help decide whether group therapy would be helpful, and help prepare you for joining a group. In these conversations you would be welcome to speak about anything you feel is relevant, as well as ask any questions about the group itself, or say anything which comes to mind over the course of the conversation.
It was a relief to share my worries in the group. This enabled me to put them in perspective and to find constructive ways to change things. Others in the group had been through similar experiences and were able to make me feel understood and see ways to regain my confidence. It felt good that they also felt helped by me sharing my feelings with them.
Since I’ve been in the therapy group I’ve seen how each individual is themselves and special for it - and so am I. This has made a great difference to my relationships. I can now get on with and value lots more people and feel the same from them.
Attending the group helped me to have better relationships. It made me aware of some self-defeating patterns I had in relating to others so I could get beyond them and enjoy my time at uni more.
Being in the group has helped me to develop many life skills. I feel better equipped for the world out there. I am excited about putting the new me into practice in different contexts. I feel that as I have been able to overcome the struggle with my past habits and social anxieties, I will overcome whatever life throws at me. I know that I can keep picking myself up when I get knocked down and keep going, doing my best in each situation and having fun with it!