For many issues faced by York students, group counselling can be the optimal counselling choice. Talking in a group about one’s emotional, physical, academic, interpersonal, social, and family problems can help reduce distress and bring insight and change. Group counselling provides a safe and supportive environment in which personal change can be made. The benefit to participants is that they receive professional assistance as well as the opportunity to interact with other participants who may be in a similar situation, or who may be able to provide different perspectives. Thus, group participants have the opportunity to see themselves in a different light and explore possibilities for themselves. Although many York students are initially hesitant to join group counselling, participants consistently find group counselling to be a very beneficial and positive experience.
In a group counselling, a small number of people, (usually between six and 15 students), meet weekly with one or two counsellors to discuss their concerns. Counsellors act as facilitators to assist group members in articulating their thoughts and feelings in a way that promotes growth for themselves and for other members of the group.
At SCD, we offer various groups to address the needs of our students. Themed counselling groups may focus on a specific topic, e.g. body image. In counselling process groups the issues discussed each week arise from the members rather than predetermined by the group facilitator. Personal concerns or problems from everyday life e.g. relationships with friends, family members or significant others may be discussed. Participants may discuss their reactions (thoughts and feelings) to events or situations in their lives – e.g., the stress or anxiety associated with school or with relationships; the feelings of sadness or depression that they are experiencing, etc. Interactions within the group enable the members to work through problems and to learn from the facilitator and from group members who have similar concerns, to try new ways of relating, and to learn new ways to respond and deal with situations. Members can explore and better understand themselves and learn how to cope with their difficulties.
Access to Individual or Group Counselling
Booking an Intake Appointment
The first step in the individual or group counselling process is scheduling an intake appointment. To schedule an intake appointment, students must visit Student Counselling & Development (SCD) in N110 Bennett Centre for Student Services (SCD does not schedule intake appointments over the phone or allow others to book intakes on behalf of a student). Students requesting an intake appointment will be asked to provide some demographic information and the appointment will be scheduled. At peak times during the year, students may have to wait a short while for an intake appointment.
Attending the Intake Appointment
Intake appointments usually take 90 minutes to complete. The intake appointment has 2 distinct parts:
- On arrival, there are forms to be filled-in. These forms ask the student about their concerns and will take up to 30 minutes to complete
- A brief interview during which a counsellor assesses counselling needs and, in collaboration with the student, establishes personal counselling goals. This meeting will also take up to 60 minutes. It is not a counselling session per se – it is an assessment, an information-gathering session and usually involves more of a question-answer format than a counselling session
After the Intake Appointment
After the intake appointment, our team of counselling staff will make a counselling plan based on their professional opinion and in light of the student’s goals and concerns. This plan might include participation in one of our counselling groups, individual counselling sessions with one of our counsellors, or a referral to another service provider. At peak times during the year, students may have to wait awhile for further counselling at SCD.
Within 7 days of an intake appointment, the student will receive an email or telephone call from a counsellor indicating “next steps”. Possibilities include:
- A follow-up appointment with one of our counsellors to discuss individual or group counselling
- An individual counselling session with one of our counsellors
- An email from a counsellor who will act as case manager indicating that the student has been placed on a wait list for counselling at SCD. Until such time as counselling is available, the student can direct questions to their case manager. We will be back in touch as soon as individual or group counselling becomes available
- Referral to an off-campus service provider. SCD will provide information relating to possible off-campus service providers and the student may be offered a follow-up appointment as they transition from SCD to another service provider