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Think counseling is limited to sprawling on a couch in a dimly lit room, spilling your secrets to a shrink? Think again.

From hanging out with a puppy to soothe the day's stresses to doing yoga for mindfulness, UCF Counseling & Psychological Services offers more than 15 group therapy workshops — some a little quirkier than others.

Jocelyn Buhain, group coordinator and staff psychologist, said that people may sometimes exhaust natural support systems that are readily available, such as family and friends, and that a therapist can be an outside source of help. Some research shows that group therapy can be as effective as one-on-one therapy, she added.

"Anyone can see a therapist for any concern, it doesn't have to be something overly problematic," Buhain said.

One of the more popular and unique sessions is with Bodhi, the CAPS Havanese silk dog. Bodhi is a registered therapy dog whose therapeutic cuteness sometimes visits different parts of campus and comes to CAPS on the first Thursday of each month. This month, Bodhi helped with stress management and adjustment workshops.

J.J. Jimenez, CAPS staff psychologist, runs the Questioning & Coming Out group therapy, which focuses on helping LGBTQ students or those who are questioning their orientation or gender identity. Jimenez also facilitates the Family Group, a workshop that explores the impact one's family of origin has on communication styles and relationships with people.

Students interested in taking part in a group therapy workshop must undergo a brief screening session to ensure that the workshop is a good fit. Groups tend to be small and usually have no more than eight students.

"The focus isn't just on you — you'll also give support to other people," Jimenez said.

While more serious workshops are offered, such as those addressing grief and loss, or anger management, CAPS has other lighthearted groups.

Larry Marks runs the life coaching workshop, which helps students develop goals and overall well-being. Marks said that students seeking life coaching are often looking for something else that counseling may not offer, because the latter is more associated with overcoming a struggle.

"[It helps students] push themselves a little bit further to live up to their full potential," Marks said.

The staff psychologist uses positive psychology, an approach that guides a person to focus on enhancing positive emotions rather than simply overcoming negative ones. Along with meeting goals, the workshop aims to help students develop their strengths and know how to use them.

The presence of other students in the group lends a brainstorming element to the workshop, Marks added.

Buhain encourages students to give group therapy a chance.

"I think people should give therapy a try if they're interested in learning more about themselves," she said.

Fall 2014 CAPS Groups and Workshops:

Building Social Confidence
Mondays: 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Thursdays: 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Diversity Dialogues
Mondays: 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Sister Circle
Mondays: 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Questioning & Coming Out
Mondays: 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Authentic Connections
Tuesdays: 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Wednesdays: 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Life Coaching
Tuesdays: 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Women's Group
Tuesdays: 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Body Wellness:
Wednesdays: 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Relax and Flow Yoga:
Thursdays: 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Bodhi Time:
Monthly, first Thursday at noon

For a full list of workshops and more information, visit caps.sdes.ucf.edu.

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