Group Counseling

Group counseling is one of the most effective tools for addressing issues common among college students. For many students, it can be more effective than individual counseling.

Our support groups and group therapy offer a safe environment to discuss problems with others who are dealing with similar concerns. Most students – although somewhat apprehensive at first – report that they find the group experience to be helpful far beyond their expectations.

  • Each group is led by one or more professional counselors
  • Groups usually meet weekly for a 90-minute session
  • Participation is FREE for registered Cornell students
  • Groups are private and confidential; all members must agree that what is disclosed in sessions cannot be shared outside of the group

View our current list of groups below.

How to join (or learn more about) a group 

Step one: If you’re already seeing a counselor at Cornell Health, ask about joining a group. Otherwise, you can schedule a 10-minute “brief phone assessment” to speak with a counselor about your interest. To schedule a phone appointment, log in to myCornellHealth and select “Appointments,” or call 607-255-5155 during business hours (press 3 for appointments).

Step two: Most groups require potential members to have a pre-group conversation with the group leader(s) to see if the group is the right one for you. The counselor who you speak with in step 1 can connect you with the right person.

Cornell Health groups – Spring 2018

Learn to Sleep (NEW GROUP)!

Meeting Time: Thursdays, 3:00–4:30 pm
Dates: Beginning February 22, March: 8, 15, 29, April: 5, 19, 26, and May: 10
Facilitators: Alicia Ventresca, Kaitlin Lilienthal, and Jessica Massaro

This group is designed for students with trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early. Students will receive information on the neurobiology of sleep and wakefulness. They will assess their individual sleep habits and patterns - in the context of "real-life" college issues (e.g., academic pressure, AOD, dorm/apartment living). Students will learn about sleep hygiene, stimulus control, sleep efficiency, and other practices conducive to a good night's rest. We explore the relationship between sleep and mood (e.g., anxiety, depression) from a cognitive behavioral perspective. Students will build coping skills with which to manage everyday stress and undwind at night. Finally, we review over-the-counter and prescription sleep medication to include caveats and potential implications.

Senior Uncertainty (NEW GROUP)!

Meeting Time: TBD

Not feeling ready to graduate? Wondering how you'll make ends meet? Freaking out about not having a job when others do, or worried about not being satisfied with the job you landed? Having regrets about your college experience? Concerned about what will happen to the relationships you made here or rebuilding a life somewhere new? You are not alone. This is a 5 week support group for graduating seniors concerned about transitioning to life after Cornell.

ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) for Anxiety and Depression

Meeting Time: Tuesdays, 3:00–4:30 pm

This is a weekly seminar devoted to helping students encounter depression and anxiety differently while pursuing a full and meaningful life. ACT is grounded in the growing body of research which suggests that attempts to suppress or control internal experiences can make them worse and lead to the kinds of problems for which people seek therapy. When we stop struggling with these experiences, they paradoxically have less power.

Acceptance refers to bringing an open and willing attitude toward all internal experiences - thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and memories - even those which are uncomfortable. It does not mean resigning yourself to your circumstances or giving into where pain usually lead you. Commitment means actively working on what you truly care about, even when pain is present. Meetings are comprised of short educational components, interactive exercises, mindfulness exercises, and group discussions. Members are asked to practice skills and complete brief readings between meetings.

Adjusting to Cornell

Meeting Time: Mondays, 12:00–1:00 pm (Fall semesters only)

This 60 minute, rolling admission group is tailored to first year, undergraduate students and will focus on issues associated with adjusting to college and the Cornell experience. These weekly sessions will allow students to discuss the challenges of beginning college with other students who are going through the same transition. Topics will include (but are not limited to) homesickness, imposter syndrome, fitting in, making friends, and coping with stress/anxiety. Above all, the group aims to be a supportive place for students interested in a smoother transition to Cornell.

Anxiety/Depression Management through Body Mindfulness

Meeting Time: Wednesdays, 5:00–6:30 pm

This group will offer education and support regarding mind-body patterns which may arise from chronic and acute depression and anxiety. Focus will be on "listening" to body sensations (e.g., tension, hunger, sensation, discomfort and breathing) and exploring possible connections with anxiety and depression. Traditional methods like breath-work, yoga, tai chi, qigong will be explored as possible techniques for assisting in treatment oriented at gaining relief from physical and mental symptoms of anxiety and depression. Pleasant sensations associated with tension release, along with breathing, will be explored and utilized as a focus points for mindfulness practices and meditation.

Bereavement Group

Meeting Time: Thursdays, 5:00–6:30 pm

This is a weekly, confidential support group for enrolled Cornell undergraduate and graduate students who have suffered the death of a family member or other significant person. The group is open to those whose loss occurred some time ago as well as those for whom the loss is more recent. The focus of group will vary depending on members' needs and preferences.

Bipolar Support Group

Meeting Time: Wednesdays, 5:00–6:30 pm

The bipolar support group is a place for students diagnosed with bipolar disorder to gain skills, education, and support. The meetings will be structured to allow time for education about bipolar illness as well as time for discussion on topics like stigma, family issues, how bipolar disorder affects relationships, academics, and career path. Members will be encouraged to identify activities and practices that help them to maintain their well-being. The use of mindfulness, relaxation, and self-monitoring as coping strategies will be presented to the group. The group will meet weekly for 90 minutes. It is open to all undergraduates, graduate and professional students.

Cornell Healthy Eating Program (CHEP) Education Group

Meeting Time: Tuesdays, 4:00–5:30 pm

The CHEP Education Group is a ten session psychoeducational and support group designed to get students started on changing unhealthy cognitive patterns and behaviors related to food and body image. This group is for students who struggle with all aspects of disordered eating including chronic dieting, compulsive overeating, food restriction, purging by laxatives or vomiting, excessive exercise, binge eating, and obsessive thoughts related to body image. The group starts with an emphasis on providing education about eating concerns and over the ten sessions shifts so that members begin to provide more direction to the group as well as support and feedback to one another. The group will explore topics such as motivation to change, identifying ways the eating problems serve a function, self-soothing and self-care, family and other relationships, etc. This group has an "opt-out" option after the 5th session.

Cornell Healthy Eating Program (CHEP) Recovery Group

Meeting Time: TBD

The Recovery Group is for students who have already sought help for an eating disorder and are in the process of ongoing treatment and recovery. The group provides a strongly recovery-focused environment of support and skills building with peers that have also done more intensive treatment.

Graduate Women's Therapy Group

Meeting time: Thursdays, 5:00–6:30 pm

The Graduate Women's group is a weekly process oriented group that will provide a safe space for women pursuing graduate degrees to explore their relational concerns and personal difficulties. In process groups, the group serves as a safe & confidential space to receive multiple perspectives, feedback, and support from other graduate women. The group will work towards further developing clients' esteem, self-awareness, and relationship skills.

International Student Support Group

Meeting Time: Tuesday afternoons; time TBD

This group is aimed at providing a safe space for international students to explore the impact of their transition into the United States and the university, recognize community resources, and examine the acculturation process. The group will take a strengths-based approach to helping students recognize their resilience, promote self-care, and identify helpful resources. Students will find support for establishing a sense of community while also exploring feelings of rejection, isolation and frustration that may arise from being far from home. [International Student Support Group poster (pdf)]

Life-Altering Illness Support Group

Meeting Time: Fridays, 3:00–4:30 pm

This group is for students who are dealing with medical illnesses that are ongoing/chronic and have a significant impact on their life. These illnesses do not have to be visible, and individuals can be in any stage of their illness (recently diagnosed, struggling with figuring out a diagnosis, in remission). This is an opportunity for group members to give and receive support, comfort and safety surrounding the struggles associated with living with a chronic illness, while being a student at Cornell, and share coping strategies in a friendly, welcoming environment.

Moving Forward: After Sexual Violence Support Group (for women)

Meeting Time: Weekly in March and April (day and time will depend on participant availability)

Women who have experienced unwanted and/or non-consensual sexual contact and/or other forms of sexual trauma are encouraged to consider whether this private and confidential support group may be helpful to them. The group will be a space for women who have experienced sexual assault in recent months or years to gain support from one another and explore ways to heal in the aftermath of an assault. Discussion topics to include: Myth-busting, coping, managing triggers and flashbacks, trust and safety, fear, anger and sadness, grief and shame, body image, self-esteem, intimacy, sexuality and self-care, and identifying ongoing support.

This group is open to undergraduate, graduate and professional women students at Cornell. Once started, the group will be closed to new members. [Moving Forward After Sexual Violence: Supportive Gatherings poster (pdf)]

Positive Action through Interaction: A Co-ed Graduate Student Group

Meeting Time: Thursdays, 3:15–4:45 pm

This group is appropriate for most graduate students seeking counseling including those who experience depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, loneliness, and/or difficulties in their relationships with important others in their lives. The group will provide a safe place in which to explore feelings, receive and give support and feedback, practice new, healthier ways of relating to others, and feel connected.

Relationships: An Undergraduate Therapy Group

Meeting Time: Tuesdays, 5:00–6:30 pm

For undergraduate students who are struggling with dissatisfaction in their social relationships, whether they are with peers, friends, family, or partners. For example, this group is appropriate for students who feel they have been unable to establish a healthy, intimate relationship; or who feel something is getting in the way of forming close friendships; or who would like to overcome anxiety related to social situations. The goal is that, through discussion and feedback from both peers and group facilitators, students will gain insights, knowledge, and skills that will help them form more fulfilling relationships in their lives. The group is primarily process-oriented, with aspects of peer support and psycho-education as well.

Wellness at Cornell Group

Meeting Time: Mondays and Thursdays (you may attend either evening) 5:15–6:30 pm

Do you want to learn how to manage stress more effectively and THRIVE (not just survive) at Cornell and beyond? If so, then join us for the Wellness at Cornell group. Wellness at Cornell consists of a series of five modules. These will be offered Monday and Tuesday evenings, and students are free to attend either time.

Module 1: Be Here Now and Live Well: Learn how to practice mindfulness for increasing ability to focus and manage stress and emotions.

Module 2: Befriend Your Inner Critic and Live Well: Learn how to befriend your inner critic and increase the likelihood of feeling more confident and being more productive.

Module 3: Think Helpful Thoughts and Live Well: What we think affects how we act and feel. Learn how to think helpful thoughts that can change your mood and behavior.

Module 4: Change and Live Well: We all know what we need to do to live well, so what gets in the way? Learn the tools you need to change what you want within 90 days, including tips for how to fall and stay restfully asleep.

Module 5: Balance Your Priorities with the Demands of Others, and yes, Live Well!