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Group Counselling Available for Students with Social Anxiety

Group of people sitting close to each other.

By Erica Cawagas

Students can take part in group counselling workshops to help them with social anxiety.

In the last three years demand for one-on-one student counselling sessions has increased by roughly 60 per cent each year. Due to this increase, Health and Wellness Student Counselling has introduced educational group workshops.

The interpersonal skills workshop began Jan. 21 and is running for 4 weeks with a one-and-a-half-hour session per week.

The workshops will discuss the foundational pieces: stop-think-do, relationships, group work and how to deal with instructors and employers.

Registered psychologist at NAIT student counselling Loreta Della Mora said originally the workshop was intended to help students on the autism spectrum to develop their social skills. The curriculum addressed two aspects: the very socially anxious who can’t speak and the very impulsive person who won’t stop talking.

“What we are finding now is that a lot of socially anxious students are coming and benefiting from it as well, because the same principles apply,” said Mora.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Tanya Spencer, who leads counselling services at NAIT said that there are many students on the autism spectrum and many students who are anxious for a variety of reasons. While their cause for anxiety may differ, the solution and support they require are the same.

“There’s something special that happens in a group setting that just won’t happen in a one to one session. [The] students see for themselves that [they are] not the only one struggling with these things,” said Spencer.

With research on psychotherapy shifting in the last 20 years, these workshops will not promote specific solutions for all. Instead the workshops will help people get excited about their goals, know what their values are and learn how to tolerate distress. They will also learn how to label and identify their feelings and to develop a strong sense of opinion.

Both Mora and Spencer already have ideas for more topics to cover if student interests for the workshop format increases. They’re hoping to include topics like strategies for mood regulation for those who struggle with depression, trauma and how to live day-to-day while dealing with chronic difficulties, whether they be physical or mental.

If interested contact counselling@nait.ca to register and arrange a pre-screening.

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