COPHS provides support for their students

The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences now offers group therapy sessions to pharmacy and PA program students. Photo by Julian Cirnigliaro.


The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences started offering group therapy sessions to their students this fall. These sessions, dedicated to students in COPHS, are aimed at relieving stress among students who are starting to work professionally. 

Angela Ockerman, the assistant dean for student affairs in COPHS, helped start these therapy sessions. She said COPHS works with Butler’s Counseling and Consultation Services to put on these sessions. She said that these specialized group therapy times are a great resource for COPHS students in the school’s physician assistant and pharmacy programs, who work through challenging schooling and a difficult profession. 

“We felt that, well, these [professions] can often induce stress,” Ockerman said. “And right now with what seems to just be a generally heightened level of stress for everyone, we felt it might be a good idea to offer some support.” 

Ockerman said that the college currently has three group therapy sessions, one for PA students, one for P1 pharmacy students, who are working their first year in the professional phase of the program, and another for P2 and P3 students, who are in their second and third years working in the professional phase. 

She said that the PA students started their group therapy themselves, and that COPHS started putting on the other sessions a month into this semester. Ockerman also said that the number of attending students varies per meeting, but that the sessions have gotten as big as 17 students. 

Ockerman said the main goal of the therapy sessions is not only to make sure that students are taking care of their mental health when they feel they need it, but also to show them the benefits of it.

“Available students can drop in as they feel they need the support,” Ockerman said. “And hopefully the tools they are learning, someday, maybe they can share with their own patients as well.”

Ockerman also hopes that these sessions will show some of the many benefits to utilizing group therapy as well as individual sessions. She said that participating in group therapy is important because it shows students that they are not alone, and that others around them are going through the same things and facing the same challenges as them. She wants students to see that working together with others who face similar challenges is one of the best ways to face these challenges. 

First-year strategic communication major, Natalie Brici, said she also thinks that the therapy could help a lot of people. 

“I think group therapy is a really good idea,” Brici said. “It creates a community between people who are studying the same things.” 

Ockerman agreed that the therapy will be able to create connections among students. 

“So I think they’re in it for the long haul,” Ockerman said. “It’s a very rigorous program and so kinda working together to support one another, it’s been very beneficial for them.”


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