New body positive and depression support groups welcome SF State students


Illustration by Roxanne Hernandez

SF State will soon offer two new support groups to help students work through issues surrounding depression and body image.

The Counseling and Psychological Services Center at SF State determined the need for the additional programs based on topics that continued to come up during one-on-one sessions.  

Leslie Shin, facilitator and clinical counselor, and David Montgomery, co-facilitator and graduate intern in-training, created Group Therapy for Depression, which will provides support to students dealing with depression and ways to cope with it. The depression-focused group will be held Feb. 22 to May 10.

The Body Positive Discussion Group, beginning March 8 through May 3, is facilitated by clinical counselor Laurene Domínguez. The eight-week program that focuses on five key areas, also known as the “core competencies.” According to Domínguez, each area focuses on ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a positive outlook on body image, and build a community that supports a body positive lifestyle.

Director of the Counseling and Psychological Services Center, Derethia DuVal  has worked in the center, located in the Student Services building, for the past 10 years and said the staff members created these support groups based on student need.  

“All of my staff are licensed clinicians,” DuVal said. “They decide within their own schedules that they would like to add a group. They see students individually and so they decided they wanted to have these groups because these are issues that come up a lot.”

Although the campus offers support groups for other mental health issues, Shin and Montgomery noticed the lack of a group specifically designed to help students with depression, something common amongst college-aged adults.

According to the Jed Foundation, the National College Health Assessment surveyed and found that 14.5 percent of college students have had, or have been treated for depression.  

“This is a support group and at the same time it’s a process group,” Shin said. “So not only are they getting support but they also learn about depression and get to process what it’s like.”

Domínguez, also working with another graduate intern-in-training, created the body image-related support group based off of a program that was developed by two women in 1996 called “The Body Positive.” Domínguez mentioned that the program was initially created in Berkeley, California for high school students and then expanded to different college campuses.

The Body Positive Discussion Group will begin immediately following the campus event “Love Your Body Week” scheduled for Feb. 27 to March 3. The campus event is a week-long event that will address healthy habits and keeping a positive outlook on body image in a variety of ways throughout the campus.

“I’m hoping to have a nice long list of people that want to do it and that it can actually become something like a support group on campus at some point or to even have the group expand to the point where students are actually running the group themselves,” said Domínguez.

According to DuVal, research has proven that group counseling, therapy and support groups are extremely beneficial because they not only provide certified clinicians as a resource, but the groups also put people in touch with those facing similar situations.  

“I encourage students to join our groups because the counseling services can get impacted just like classes,” DuVal said. “So, a way that more students can have access to our services is through groups.”

Because they are not drop-in groups, students must call the Counseling and Psychological Services Center main office to sign up for either program.  

Group Therapy for Depression will offer two separate meetings times throughout the semester, on Monday evenings and Wednesday afternoons. The Body Positive Discussion Group will meet Wednesday evenings.

For more information about the groups and to register, call the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at (415) 338-2208.