Program available for those suffering from weight-related, self-esteem issues

Students suffering from weight-related or self-esteem issues can find support and friendly faces in free group sessions provided by Marshall’s Psychology Clinic every Tuesday until May.

“In college, for a lot of students this is their first time away from home and their first time in this new environment with a lot of different people,” said student therapist Kristyn Ford. “Their self-esteem could be negatively impacted by meeting so many people from so many places and feeling like the little fish in the big pond, and that might not have been an issue prior.”

Ford said she is in a group therapy class as part of her curriculum in the Psy. D. program and wanted to address the issue of self-esteem since it is so common and very broad.

“The reason we chose weight and self-esteem was because we felt like we haven’t had a lot of experience working with people with weight-related issues,” Ford said. “We thought incorporating self-esteem into weight related issues would allow for participation from a lot of different students.”

Destiny Hoffman, second-year student in the clinical psychology master’s program, said group therapy can be effective for those battling self-esteem problems.

“Self-esteem is definitely something everyone struggles with, but when you have extra pressures like college students usually do, it typically comes out a little bit more,” Hoffman said. “Often times people feel that they have to struggle alone with things, and that’s not the case.”

Ford said students understanding they are not alone in their problems is important to help them conquer their self-esteem issues.

“With the group in general, people with weight-related and self-esteem issues can come to the group and say ‘I’m not alone, I’m not the only person struggling with this,’ and that identification with their peers is really going to be important to them to overcome their issues and to have a stronger sense of self-esteem,” Ford said. “We’re in college, we’re students as well, so I think a lot of the hesitancy comes from being afraid that the people you’re going to encounter aren’t going to understand you, but everybody in there is in the same situation.”

Ford said feeling more confident can help students branch out and expand their horizons on campus and within the community.

“When you have a higher sense of self-esteem, you feel more confident to take risks and to try new things,” Ford said. “College is a great opportunity for students to try on different roles and different career paths, go to new clubs and meet new people. If the self-esteem is not there, they might be afraid to take those risks, and they’re missing out on the experience they could have.”

Ford said the group, which will meet each Tuesday from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Psychology Clinic, will give students the opportunity to discuss their problems while also learning different skills to raise their self-esteem.

“It’s going to be a lot of people coming in and bringing stuff with them, and then also hopefully we have something that we can give them as well, some kind of skill or training,” Ford said.

Hoffman said self-reflection is an important part of the process, but that her and Ford will do their best to provide students with new techniques as well.

“It’s a collaborative effort between us and the participants,” Hoffman said. “We’re coming in with some knowledge, but they know more about themselves.”

Hanna Pennington can be contacted at [email protected].