OBU offers new group therapy for students

By Alyssa Sperrazza, News Editor

Alena Blakley, The Bison 

“There are two types of people in the world: those who think everyone needs therapy, and those who have never been,” actor and bestselling author Jenny Mollen said.

College is oftentimes described as the most exciting time in the life of a young adult, but stress is often a descriptor for students during those years.

To help relieve stress, the Marriage Family Therapy (MFT) Clinic at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) is offering a new therapy groupsfor students and faculty beginning in March.

“We currently have one group (supporting students with anxiety) that will begin this week. We would like to have our groups between four to eight group participants,” Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic Director, Dr. Tara Signs said.

“It’s free to students, and it’s free to anyone in the OBU community.  So employees, staff, faculty, students and their family members; anybody that’s a part of the OBU community, it’s free.”

Dean of Students, Odus Compton, weighed in on what he hopes that students will gain from these in-depth programs.

“I hope they get support, encouragement and tools to build up whatever that group is focusing on,” Compton said.

“Ultimately, we want our students to be successful.  If there’s something that’s preventing them from being a student or a roommate, then if we can help alleviate some of that we want to help.”

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMH) conducted research on mental health on college campuses across the United States.  Their results show why many universities are offering free counseling services.

“One in four students have a diagnosable illness,” NAMH reported.

“40 percent do not seek help, 80 percent feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities and 50 percent have been so anxious that they struggle in school.”

NAMH is not alone in their troubling findings concerning mental health on college campuses.

“About one-third of U.S. college students had difficulty functioning in the last 12 months due to depression,” American Psychological Association said.

Reading the statistics, it is no wonder that the discussion of the need for therapy groups at OBU has been underway.

“I think it’s a need,” Signs said. “A lot of campuses offer different types of group therapy services. My hope is that we can build upon the one that we’re starting and then tailor it to more specific needs.”

Universities across the state offer extensive counseling and therapy programs as well as addiction aid and other resources students can use.

OBU’s new group therapy is composed of a six-week course that was created specifically for the Bison community.

“The curriculum was created by our graduate therapists,” Signs said. “They’re in the masters program.”

Free of charge is a beautiful thing to hear for most broke college students, and OBU offers their services free as well.  Participants simply need to fill out some paperwork.

“You need to complete a group interest form,” Signs said.

“Basically, what that means is that I get the information that you enter in and then I make contact and we schedule you a group intake appointment.  You will go over all the paperwork, any questions and really, ultimately, it’s to decide if this is what you’re really wanting or if it’s a fit for you.”

The six-week course will focus on anxiety, a subject that is encouraged for students to discuss and work through.

“Anxiety is prevalent along college campuses,” Signs said. “So the co-facilitators created this curriculum that focuses on triggers, awareness, how to cope with it and how to deal with it.”

College can be an extremely stressful time, whether it’s over national issues suddenly becoming prevalent or the seemingly endless piles of assignments students try to tackle throughout the semester.  Therapy is encouraged for students who feel anxiety, stress or simply need to talk through issues in their lives.  Again, the therapy is open to all people in the OBU community and is free of charge.

To find out more about the six-week programs, you can go to the MFT website through http://www.okbu.edu/graduate/therapy

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