We ask the Illinois Counseling Center's Kamau Grantham 5 questions about the value of group therapy and here is what he had to say.
1. We heard that one of your favorite forms of counseling is group therapy. What is it?
That is true about me. Who told you? I love co-facilitating therapy groups and have been running them here at the Counseling Center for going on 7 years. Group counseling is a space where as few as four or as many as ten students come together to discuss the issues that are concerning them and offer each other support and feedback. Each group meets weekly and is facilitated by two group therapists.
2. What do you think are the benefits of group therapy? How is it different than individual therapy?
I love group counseling as a modality because I have seen students have break-throughs in group, receiving feedback and support from their peers, that they would have never gotten in individual therapy. There is something validating and normalizing for students about being in a group with other students and sharing their experiences. In individual therapy, you have your therapist’s set of eyes and ears offering a student insight into their situation but with a group, a student is receiving multiple perspectives from their fellow group members which often leads to greater awareness and ultimately change.
3. How did you get started leading group sessions?
As a psychologist, conducting group therapy was part of my training in graduate school as well as my past experiences working in mental health settings. It is a modality that I really enjoy. At the Counseling Center, we offer over 24 different groups so our clinicians have opportunities to run a group or two if they choose.
4. Who is a good fit for group therapy?
I think most concerns that students have would be a good fit for group therapy. The group commitment is attending weekly sessions for the duration of the semester, so it would need to work with a student’s schedule. Group counseling can be fantastic for students: managing social anxiety; having relationship concerns; seeking peer support, and struggling academically. Group counseling is also our long-term therapy option, ideal for students looking for mental health services over the course of several semesters.
5. How can someone join a group?
To join a therapy group at the Counseling Center a student would first need to become a client at the Center so I would recommend calling us to schedule an initial appointment with one of our clinicians. During that appointment, a student can share with the clinician that they want to join a group. Once a group of interest has been identified, a student will then be connected with the group co-leaders for a brief meeting to talk more about the student’s interest in the group as well as allow the student to ask any questions they may have. If there aren’t any barriers then the student can start attending the group. To see a full list of all of the groups we offer, as well as to learn more about the group therapy process, please see our website.
Extra credit. Do you have anything else to add? Favorite food or restaurant?
If you have a chance to join one of our therapy groups, I would highly recommend it. Once you leave college it will be very difficult to find a therapy group to join, so getting an experience now is a wonderful opportunity.
Favorite food…hmmm. I love to eat food from around the world but I would have to say that Ethiopian food is my favorite. I wish there was a restaurant in town. I have been known to drive to Chicago or Indianapolis just for Ethiopian food.
Kamau Grantham is the Assistant Director of Clinical Services at the Counseling Center and is a clinical counselor and co-chair of the Sankofa Black Student Outreach Team. He holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from St. John’s University, is a licensed clinical psychologist interested in multicultural counseling, cultural identity development, African American mental health, stress management, life transitions, and athletics.