UIS to offer LGBT couples’ group counseling

Will include non-UIS students

Tentatively scheduled to start Feb. 13, the LGBTQA Resource Office and the Counseling Center are planning an LGBT couples group that will meet weekly over the course of the semester. The group is expected to meet eight or nine weeks this semester for roughly two hours each week. Only one member of the couple must be a UIS student.

Graduate Assistant (GA) and counselor Rebecca Goldsborough believes that it will be difficult to get students out to participate in the group, but wants anyone considering trying to give it a shot. “I just think that sometimes it’s hard for students to make that first step, to get involved with something that’s different, and I would just encourage everyone to consider doing something for themselves this semester that can help them grow and change and become the person that they want to be,” said Goldsborough.

Along with the communication issues that are typical of couple counseling sessions, Goldsborough expects gender roles to be a prominent topic throughout the sessions. “I’m very interested in gender roles and how [that is] affecting your relationship. Do you sit down and spell out what each person is going to do in your relationship? Or are you bound by some of those gender roles that you grew up with? That’s very interesting to me,” she said.

Another key difference between Goldsborough’s group and traditional couples’ counseling is that these will be group sessions, instead of one couple to one counselor. While Goldsborough believes this presents challenges, it also presents potential for the group to dictate the course of the sessions and to grow more as a result.

Goldsborough explained, “What I like to do with a group is find out from them, too, what they want to talk about…I feel like identification is really important to learning and growing, so being able to identify with other couples going through the same thing, it’s kind of like a support group.”

Regarding the rule that only one member of the couple has to be a UIS student, Goldsborough stated, “I think that it’s interested because it will bring in people from the community possibly…so I think that will make it more interesting, because maybe not everyone will be college students, but there’s a good possibility that they will be college students.” This is the first time that the counseling center has offered counseling to non-UIS students.

Along with the couples’ group, the LGBTQA resource office is also offering the “Explore Yourself in a Private Place” group sessions again this semester. Like the couples group, the Explore Yourself group meets privately around eight times weekly each semester. According to GA and co-facilitator Courtney Wick, the group is “for anybody who is questioning their identity, or sexual identity, or just maybe wanting to talk to other people about coming out stories.”

Wick also believes that a group setting can be very beneficial to all involved in these groups: “It helps with trust. A lot of it is about trusting the process, trusting the group. If we had a revolving door of people, we might not get to the depth that we want to…since we do continue with the same group of people, after the first few weeks they start to really uncover layers and talk to each other.”

Students interested in joining the “Explore Yourself” group can email Wick at [email protected], whereas those interested in the couples group can contact Goldsborough at [email protected] Goldsborough will also be seeing heterosexual couples this semester, and urges interested students to contact her or the counseling center.