The Student Support and Advocacy Center is excited to offer several support spaces as a part of our Collegiate Recovery Program initiatives. Review the information below about our groups. Questions can be directed to ssac@gmu.edu.

General Information

Who facilitates SSAC support spaces?

The Student Support and Advocacy Center’s support spaces are all supervised and supported by full-time staff with mental health backgrounds with extensive training in supporting students from peer-to-peer approaches, crisis intervention, and topical area support. In addition, graduate practicum students also serve our groups as co-facilitators. All facilitators have consistent SMART Recovery certification along with extensive content area training.

What are support spaces like?

Our support spaces are based on a peer-to-peer support model. This means that the group topics and experiences are driven by the groups needs overall. Each week, the groups start with a common script and guidelines which promotes transparency and consistency for attendees. Each week, facilitators will prompt check-ins and requests for support. The group will support one another. Occasionally, groups will need support in getting started in conversations and may be lead with an activity or question. The groups end with a check-out. If any student needs additional support, a staff member is available to chat with the student and also to set up additional support meetings.

What if I get triggered during a group?

We understand that this can happen. Each person needs to gauge where they are at and if groups feel right for them. If a group experience might be too difficult at this time, we encourage students to connect with us one on one so we can navigate support resources.

We use a “headlines, not main details” approach which asks participants to avoid going into depth about triggering experiences or behaviors. In addition, each group follows a set of guidelines and includes ground rules that help to avoid the group getting to triggering. However, we know that each person’s triggers are unique to them and sometimes they happen even when we are not expecting them. If a student is triggered, they have every right to get support from the group, the facilitators, and additional resources we have available.  In addition, SSAC uses a co-facilitator model in case anyone needs private 1/1 support during the group.

How is “peer support” different than a therapy group?

Peer support is not a substitute for therapeutic support and is different than therapy groups. Most students utilize our support spaces as an opportunity to receive feedback and support from their peers to enhance the work they are doing in counseling and medical spaces towards recovery and healing.

Broadly defined, “peer support” refers to a process through which people who share common experiences or face similar challenges come together as equals to give and receive help based on the knowledge that comes through shared experience. A “peer” is an equal, someone with whom one shares demographic or social similarities. “Support” expresses the kind of deeply felt empathy, encouragement, and assistance that people with shared experiences can give.  The goal of group therapy is to help members change, while the goal of support groups is to help members cope together and grow in communityMany members find benefits of attending both types of groups.

Other important details:

  • New attendees to the group will be offered additional one on one support through our collegiate recovery program (Patriots for Recovery). However, participation in that support is not required to participate in the group. Members of Patriots for Recovery are expected to attend one of these meetings regularly.
  • This group is open to any student, at any stage of their recovery and healing journey.
  • These groups will be led with consistent guidelines to allow for a safer space that avoids common triggers but is open to sharing struggles and successes in recovery.  Healing Space is less structured and more-focused on practicing self-care as a community.
  • Participants are encouraged to attend weekly/as often as needed; however, attendance is not required.

All Recovery Support Groups

This group is open to any student identifying as being in recovery. The Student Support and Advocacy Center supports students in recovery around substance use, mental health concerns, disordered eating, self-injury, and other process/behavioral addictions as well as allies. Groups provide a space to talk about common experiences, to process the impacts of day-to-day recovery, and to connect to others in recovery. This group is not a therapeutic group or a substitute for therapy. 

All Recovery Meets: 

  • Tuesdays (in-person at SSAC) from 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm 

Eating and Body Concerns Support Group 

Support groups can be a resource for students who are struggling with their body image, disordered eating, weight discrimination, and eating disorders, students who are committed to continuing their recovery, and students that feel the space would be supportive to them. Groups provide a space to talk about common experiences, to process the impacts of day-to-day recovery, and to connect to others in recovery. This group is not a therapeutic group or a substitute for therapy.   

Eating and Body Concerns Support Group meets:  

  • Every other Thursday (in-person at SSAC) from 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm  

Healing Lounge (Previously called Self-Care Space) 

Healing Lounge is a supportive space for students to decompress and hang out in community with the advocacy and recovery staff in the Student Support and Advocacy Center. The goal of the healing lounge is to provide a trauma-informed consent-focused space for students who have experienced trauma, mental health concerns, and/or are in recovery to drop-in and practice a little self and community care.  

Each week there will be several ways to engage. Students may choose to participate in planned activities such as art, meditation, grounding work, games, and more. Students may decide to use our self-care tools during the space to do what serves them best. This could be reading, playing a game, using our art supplies, talking with others, or just resting. We invite students to stop in at any time during the spaces, for however long feels right to them, and doing what centers and grounds them the most. 

Healing Lounge is offered:  

  • Tuesdays (in-person at SSAC) from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm 

Other Groups: Students who are looking for a therapeutic group on campus are encouraged to visit Counseling and Psychological Services at: https://caps.gmu.edu/group-counseling/ In addition, recovery staff at SSAC are available to assist students in finding community support and/or therapy groups within the community. 

Please note, our groups are not available for faculty and staff at George Mason University. If you would like assistance seeking resources, please contact our office and we would be happy to direct you to community options. In addition, some people find that their Employee Assistance Program with their insurance is a good place to start. In addition, these meetings are not suitable for classroom observation assignments or credits.