Group sessions becoming integral part of SRU’s Student Counseling Center

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Lisa Osachy, director of Slippery Rock University’s Student Counseling Center, has increased the number of counseling groups to meet the growing demand for students encountering mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

March 2, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - According to national research, one in five college students has anxiety or depression, but more and more students are getting help by accessing their schools' counseling centers at rates five to six times greater than average enrollment increases. To help address this growing demand for services, Slippery Rock University's Student Counseling Center has increased the number of group counseling sessions it offers.

Each week, the SCC offers five types of counseling groups, three more than last year. There are a total of six weekly group sessions; each attended by as many as 12 students and two counselors.

"The groups are wonderful because the students realize they are not alone," said Lisa Osachy, SCC director. "Group counseling is often the treatment of choice because of the opportunity to interact with others."

During the first six weeks of the fall semester, counseling hours at SRU have increased by 66 percent compared to the first six weeks of the 2009 fall semester. Anxiety and depression are the most common afflictions, but the SCC also provides counseling for students grieving the death of a loved one, overcoming an eating disorder or coping with stress related to adjusting to college life, finding a job or managing a relationship.

"We exist to serve students' emotional and developmental needs," said Osachy, who was hired in September. "Nationally, there's a huge surge and demand for counseling services and to reduce the stigma for getting help and information."

A licensed psychologist, Osachy has more than 20 years of counseling experience. She trained or worked at the counseling centers of six colleges or universities, including four years as the director of Carlow University's counseling center.

"More students are coming to college with mental health challenges," Osachy said. "In the past it prevented them from attending college. Now, they are able to get help and they are able to go to college, but that means there are more students (in college) with a history of mental illnesses."

According to Osachy, students are more willing to get help, which is important because often the most difficult step is making that first call to a counseling center. In addition to the SCC, which is open 47 hours per week, SRU can also access psychological and educational resources online at Although information shared during individual and group counseling sessions remains confidential, the online modules allows students to get help anonymously.

Still, Osachy recommends counseling. After an initial intake session at the SCC, students typically have five counseling sessions before they are released to follow a plan or referred to an outside agency.

"Change happens when you enter a relationship with a counselor or a group," Osachy said. "A lot of people feel alone when they are struggling. When they see other people with the same issues, it's a relief and a validation that it's not just you."

Counseling groups offered by the SCC include:

-Mindful Mondays Group, 4:30-6 p.m., Mondays, to practice mindfulness and learn better ways to deal with stress, anxiety, depression and to maintain healthy relationships.
-Interpersonal Group, 3:30-5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, as a safe place for students to work on relationships, conquer anxiety, receive support and process feelings through lived experiences with other students.
-Creativity Group, 4-5:30 p.m., Tuesdays, for students to express themselves through music and art to enhance health and wellbeing.
-Sanctuary Group, 3-4:30 p.m., Wednesdays, as a confidential space for students to explore marginalized identities and LGBTQIA issues.
-Grief/Loss Group, 2-3:30 p.m., Fridays, to support students who have experienced the death or loss of a loved one.

Staffed with three full-time counselors and one part-time counselor, the SCC provides a variety of services in addition to individual and group counseling sessions, such as intake assessments, emergency walk-ins, clinical consultation, crisis intervention, campus/community referrals and training/outreach workshops.

"We're committed to students' success in life and school and to help them make the most of their time here," Osachy added.

For more information or to schedule an assessment before attending a group counseling sessions, contact the SCC at: 724.738.2034.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 |