A Circle of Support

Group counseling is often featured in the media and movies, but many students don’t take advantage of the free service at Ball State.

The cushioned chairs sit in a near perfect circle in a room right next to the Counseling Center office. Light streams in through a window and reflects off a whiteboard. This is group counseling.

The service has been available at Ball State for years, but has been an increased focus for the Counseling Center in recent years. This semester there are nine groups covering issues ranging from eating disorders to alcohol abuse to anxiety issues. There are currently 45 total students enrolled.

“It’s nice because you can relate to others that have the same concerns as you,” said Dr. Hodorek, a psychologist and group leader of C.A.L.M., a group that focuses on anxiety. “You get support from more than just the one person.”

Ball State limits the number of individual sessions to 12 per semester, but students can attend group counseling throughout the entire academic year. The smallest group counseling has four members while the largest usually has eight with a maximum of 10. Each group has two staff co-leaders and lasts 90 minutes per session.

The top three reasons students visit the counseling center are for anxiety, depression and relationship problems.

According to MentalHealth.gov statistics of 2011, one in five American adults has experienced a mental health issue and one in 10 young people has experienced a period of major depression.

“This [mental health issue] is a trend across all university counseling services we’re finding,” said Dr. Boester-Dean, a therapist and a group leader for Journey to Wholeness, a counseling group for survivors of sexual trauma. “I think this is related to the general need of greater mental health services. I’m really glad we can provide that service to them and I’m glad group counseling can be a part of that as well.”

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