This year, the Broene Counseling Center is once again offering a variety of groups to bring together students with similar concerns. The groups are each composed of five to ten students, as well as one or two counselors who facilitate discussions about the issues students are dealing with.
The 10 groups being offered this semester will focus on a variety of topics, ranging from helping students overcome pornography to dealing with perfectionism.
“We’ve been working the past couple of years to increase the group offerings we have,” said Irene Kraegel, interim director of Broene Counseling Center. “We’ve actually gone through additional training as a staff in the last couple of years to make sure that we’re fully trained to run these groups.”
Kraegel believes that these groups are an effective form of counseling, particularly with college students.
The Broene Counseling Center has recently seen a bigger need for these groups. After making a concerted effort last year to offer a broader range of groups, Kraegel says that they have seen an increase in the number of students taking advantage of this resource.
“I think that the groups are incredibly beneficial,” said Tara Whipkey, resident director of Rooks-VanDellen. “It’s an environment where students can come together to draw strength from each other and know they’re not facing an individual struggle.”
A lot of what students are working through at this age has to do with relationships: connecting with others and creating meaningful relationships,” Kraegel said. “That’s a lot of what living well and thriving is about.”
According to Kraegel, recent psychological literature says that group counseling has been proven to be effective, often more so than traditional counseling.
“Groups are an effective way of helping people work through emotions,” said Kraegel, “but also for teaching them to thrive through the context of the relationships with other people and with peers. It teaches students to learn a kind of vulnerability that’s healthy and helpful.”
“In groups like this, there are more people who understand what you’re going through,” said Laura Morton, a first-year student. “You’re able to find more support in one another.”
While some of the Broene groups are more thematically focused, such as dealing with alcohol use or returning to Calvin from an off-campus study, other groups are broader. Groups like Mindfulness Meditation have a bigger focus on specific skill building.
“Mindfulness meditation is a very particular skill for calming anxiety, dealing well with stress and being able to be more content in life,” said Kraegel. “Students are actually learning to use this skill, both as a way of thinking about the world but also as a tool to use throughout each day.”
Students can find out more about specific Broene groups by looking at the Broene Counseling Center’s page on Calvin’s website or picking up a brochure at the Counseling Center, located just inside the Spoelhof Center. Kraegel encourages students to look into these groups.
“We find that students are really appreciating the groups,” she said. “There’s not a lot known about the groups on campus, so the more that students know about it, the more they can take advantage of the resource.”