Counseling services is waving all fees for its virtual group therapy sessions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

There are four groups students and community members can attend. The most popular group is the stress management and relaxation group, which meets 3 p.m. on Mondays. This group started in the spring semester and had so many participants, the clinic decided to keep it going.

“Today’s society without COVID is very stressful, but with COVID it has added that extra piece of stress,” Assistant Professor Dr. Leigh Kirby said. “People have enjoyed attending that group and have learned some strategies to be able to manage stress.”

Kirby said the stress management group hasn’t been affected by the pandemic because a good amount of people are attending, but that is not the case for the other groups.

“For the other three groups, trying to get participants involved has been a little bit more challenging,” Kirby said. “That could be a result of COVID or a fear of getting a group started.”

The other groups are Virtual Support Group for Caregivers that meets at 5 p.m. on Mondays, Career Exploration Group that meets at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and the Virtual LGBTQ+ Support Group for High School Students that meets at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.

The Counseling Clinic decides on these groups by looking at what services people are requesting, what’s going on and the symptoms and circumstances surrounds those services.

“This semester we have a pretty good number of school counselors who are working in the clinic and have seen the number of students ages 13 to 17 who are LGBTQ+ and could use some support,” Director of Human Services Counseling Clinic Nashae Turner said. “We also have a couple who are working in a rehab setting in the community and the other in a hospice setting and noticing that the caregivers are needing assistance.”

To sign up for a group, students and community members can contact the clinic by phone at (936) 468-1141 or by email at sfacounselingclinic@sfasu.edu and provide information with the group they are interested in. After that, the clinic director will contact them.

Turner encourages students to come and attend the group and ensures them that everything is kept confidential.

“I stress how the clinic and staff work extremely hard to protect people’s information to make sure their needs are being met,” Turner said. “We are always available to answer any questions or address any concerns about the group.”

Kirby also encourages people to take advantage of the free groups while they can. She believes it’s beneficial to have an outlet to manage challenges students face.

“I hope that people are aware that it’s free at this time,” Kirby said. “It’s an opportunity to work on some skills that people need some assistance with. These groups also help you realize that you are not by yourself and that there are other people that are struggling with the same issues that students may be struggling with at this time.”

After the pandemic is over, the clinic will return to its normal fee charge. For SFA students, the fee is $5 per visit; and for the community, it ranges from $5 to $20 depending on the family gross income and size of the family.

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