Graduate students in the Mental Health Counseling program have created an empowerment group that offers psychological services to students within the LGBTQ community.
Students Anthony DelSignore and Jennifer Anders, both graduate clinical and mental health counseling majors, started a psycho-educational group this semester for the LGBTQ community that will tackle issues of discrimination, coming out and self acceptance.
“It is an honor to start this group. The feedback from various campus organizations has been very positive and supportive,” Anders said. “With this being the first cycle of the group, we are open and flexible to addressing topics other than the topics already in place.”
DelSignore said other campus organizations have not been able to coordinate the group due to lack of resources.
He and Anders were inspired to start the group because he saw a need for it on campus and members of the LGBTQ community expressed interest in having a group counseling group.
It would be a unique group on campus for a few reasons, one being the need for a group of this nature on campus, and a second being several groups on campus expressing gratitude at the execution of this group.
“We felt that doing a psycho educational group that uses psychological techniques and theories focusing on empowering and educating clients would work best in a relaxed environment,” Anders said.
The goal of the group is for its members to gain a sense of cohesion and unity while learning to value themselves and openly accept their lifestyle choice.
“During the process of developing this group we sought input from various organizations and friends,” DelSignore said. “It was challenging to narrow the topics down to eight because there are so many issues to address.”
At the first meeting, students spoke out on what their concerns were—many had the same fears. Most students admitted to not being completely comfortable in public when showing their true sexuality.
Other students hoped to gain insight from their peers in the LGBTQ community on how they handle similar issues. A variety of LGBTQ students who identify with different sexualities attended the meeting. Some students were already open about their lifestyle and others were learning how to come out to their friends and family.
Anders said counselors are excited about this group and have expressed interest in continuing the Empowerment Group for the LGBTQ community in future semesters.
“This is a learning experience for everyone involved with the potential of growing stronger and better every semester,” Anders said. “In terms of needs we are open to what the clients bring to the group and addressing them as they arise.”
The group will last for eight weeks, and the meetings are on Wednesdays. The first meeting took place Feb. 19 and the last meeting is April 16. Meetings last from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and are held in Room 321 of the Kent Student Center. The group is open to all students, not just limited to the LGBTQ community.
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