Stress, stress, and more stress

Sophia Kobernusz-Gibbs, Staff Writer

The Counseling and Wellness Center hosts a weekly stress management group session. Photo by MaKenzie Barnson

What do students feel during midterms? What do students feel when starting college for the first time? What has everyone been feeling throughout this pandemic? Stress, stress, and more stress. Everyone knows that sweaty-palm, rapid heart rate, and shaky-bone feeling that is associated with stress. Everyone knows about restless nights and hard-to-focus days because the mind wants to focus on the stressor. Everyone struggles at some point or another when having to handle their stress. 

Each individual can handle stress in a myriad of different ways. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) coping with stress guidelines recommend different avenues for self-care relating to stress. Examples include taking care of one’s body by eating and exercising or taking a break from the stressor, such as using an active distraction or talking to others about the stress. The CDC finds these to be solid coping mechanisms when in an immediate or prolonged stressful situation.

While socializing and talking to others is recommended, a typical image that arises is either talking to a counselor or chatting with a group of friends. Saint Martin’s University’s Counseling and Wellness Center has combined these two images into one. On Wednesdays from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. via Zoom, the Counseling and Wellness Centers conducts a Stress Management Group session. Group therapy is where a group of people come together to talk about a common struggle or focus. In the case of Saint Martin’s group, the focus is stress and how to manage it. University of Oregon’s Counseling Services talked about the benefits of group therapy: “The power in group therapy lies in the unique opportunity to receive multiple perspectives, support, encouragement, and feedback from other individuals in a safe and confidential environment.”

Intern Therapist Dacia Dunbar runs the Saint Martin’s Counseling and Wellness Center’s Stress Management Group Therapy sessions, stating that she prefers process groups to psychoeducational groups. 

“The process group learns the therapy and I act as a facilitator. It is very fluid. Whereas in psychoeducational, it is more of teaching skills and prescriptive. We will do a bit of both in this group but leans toward more processing,” said Dunbar.

Brittany Oliver from Nexus Recovery concurs with Dunbar, describing psychoeducational groups as “focused on providing education through information-sharing and the development of healthy coping mechanisms.”

Cornell University’s Health Services states that, “group counseling is one of the most effective tools for addressing issues common among college students.” Arizona State University and UChicago’s own Health Service centers concurred with Cornell. In the Journal of Consulting Psychology, there was a study done labeled “Group counseling and behavior therapy with test-anxious college students.” At the end of the study, the students found the advice and discussion aspect of group therapy more impactful in reducing their anxiety and aiding academic success in the future. 

Dunbar speaks highly of the effectiveness of group therapy, “It is extremely helpful. Individuals work through problems faster than in traditional individual therapy. There is immediate feedback within the group. Within the group, participants build a support network and learn from one another.”

Dunbar expresses her excitement and is looking forward to working with this group. Students  interested in joining the Stress Management Group can email the Counseling and Wellness Center at CounselingCWC@stmartin.edu

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