Counseling and Psychological Services at Southern Utah University offers a LGBTQIA+ Community Support Group to support and help those a part of the community make connections.
According to their mission statement, “This group is an opportunity for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, staff, and allies to get together, learn from, and support each other. Pertinent issues such as coming out to parents, the challenges or balancing academics and dating, relationship challenges, discrimination and advocate burn out are discussed.”
Held from 3-4 p.m. on Thursdays until April 20 except for the week of spring break, students can join via this Zoom link.
Dr. Kristina Johnson, a staff psychologist at SUU, runs the group. Johnson also runs the Mindfulness Self Compassion Group, which adopted its self compassion emphasis during the fall semester.
Students who attend the group don’t need to receive a referral from CAPS. Because it’s a drop-in group, students also aren’t required to attend each week and can begin attending the group at any point during the semester.
Although this support group has been on campus for over 10 years, according to counselor and group coordinator for CAPS Blaine Edwards, the group proves to be different each semester because new people attend.
The group differs from the Mindfulness Self Compassion Group because it isn’t a psycho-educational group where the group leader brings material to the meetings for participants to talk about.
“In a support group, the group brings material to work on. A person who could use some connection in the world around a topic can bring what they want to talk about to the group,” Edwards said. “The leaders have much less influence, [although] they’re there to support and facilitate.”
Although LGBTQ allies are welcome to attend the meetings, Edwards asks that they respect the fact that the group isn’t used just to become a better ally.
“If a person wants to be an ally or become a better ally, I would suggest they connect with the SUU Pride Alliance and attend one of the ally trainings,” Edwards said.
The point of the group is to offer support or safety to members of the LGBTQ community who are seeking it, according to the mission statement.
“As a therapist, one of the things I think we need most in the world is connection,” Edwards said. “Don’t worry about what the group is about, because if you go, you can be a part of the group regardless of what you bring. It’s a place for people to be supportive and find friends.”
Story by: Elizabeth Armstrong
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash