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Wellness Center plans group sessions

The Wellness Center is currently working on beginning group therapy for students that will include topics of bereavement and skills building.

Wellness Center counselors DeNean Peterson and Dallas Jensen will both be heading group therapy sessions beginning this semester.

Dean of Students Dean Cox said he thinks the idea of starting group counseling is a good way for students to become more successful.

"People will be able to draw strength from one another," he said.

Other changes are in effect at the Wellness Center this year with the hiring of two new counselors.

Cox said he is looking forward to the newest Wellness Center counselor, Susan Garner.

"I think she will do a wonderful job," Cox said. "She is hungry to work with the students and to learn."

According to the Feb. 5 edition of the University Journal, in past years the Wellness Center has been short-handed and there was a long list of students who were in need of counseling services.

The additional funding to the Wellness Center this year made the hiring of new help possible, Cox said.

"The new additions to the counseling staff this year have been very beneficial to the Wellness Center," he said. "They will be much more able to serve the students' needs."

The skills-building group, led by Peterson, will focus on learning to be mindful, controlling emotions, dealing with stress and developing interpersonal relationship skills.

The group will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays in the Wellness Center, with Thursdays focusing on mindfulness where the students will practice zen and relaxation techniques, Peterson said.

Students can benefit from the group therapy in ways that individual therapy cannot accommodate them, Peterson said.

"Groups can help students so that they don't feel so alone," she said.

If students wish to attend, they can contact the Wellness Center to sign up and learn more information about group meeting times.

A six-week bereavement group that is in conjunction with Intermountain Hospice begins Thursday and is open to anyone who wants to attend, including students, faculty, staff and community members.

"We hope to help people recreate normalcy in their lives throughout the bereavement process," she said.

Jensen is beginning a different type of group that will focus on accommodating the needs of non-traditional and graduate students.

The group will focus less on single topics and more on whatever outside stresses and problems the individuals will be facing, Jensen said.

"There will be collective wisdom from everyone in the group," he said.

In order for students to get involved in the process group, they need to contact the Wellness Center and set up an appointment for a group screening, Jensen said.

"This will help me to see if they will fit in the group," he said.

Jensen said he is not going to start any group meetings until he has enough interest. He also said he is open to heading up as many groups as there is interest.

Cox said he thinks the different topics covered in the group therapy sessions will greatly benefit the students.

"I am very excited about the prospects," he said.

The idea of group therapy will not only be beneficial for the students but will also help the Wellness Center counselors be able to more efficiently handle counseling more students, Cox said.

However, group therapy may not be better than individual therapy for all students, Cox said.

"Groups aren't for everyone," he said. "The students participating must be doing well themselves in order to help others."

The Wellness Center has also started a dorm outreach program this year, Peterson said.

The outreach sessions are set up in Juniper Hall and available every Wednesday from 1-5 p.m. for students that need to "ask questions about anything," Peterson said.

The outreach program has been successful in bringing help to students who may be hesitant about going to the Wellness Center, Peterson said.

Because of the group therapy, along with the help of the two new counselors, the Wellness Center will be able to help in keeping the waiting list down at the Wellness Center, Peterson said.

"This will also help in strengthening and supporting students on a higher level," she said.

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