The Effects of Group Counseling and Self-Affirmation on Stigma and Group Relationship Development: A Replication and Extension

Andrew J. Seidman, Nathaniel G. Wade, Jason Geller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The stigma of seeking counseling and negative attitudes about counseling are primary barriers to its use. In the only known study examining the utility of attending a group counseling session to ameliorate stigma (no control group), participation was associated with reductions in self-stigma (Wade et al., 2011). Self-affirmation interventions have shown promising results in reducing stigma and promoting positive expectations about counseling, but no research has examined its effects on a counseling session. In the present, two-part study, 172 college students who had previously completed an online screening survey, including measures of stigma, participated in a single session of group counseling at a mental health clinic. Upon arrival, participants completed a self-affirmation intervention before viewing psychoeducation (n = 66; 12 groups) or only viewed psychoeducation (n = 72; 14 groups); both groups then completed a session of group counseling. After, participants completed these same measures along with measures of group relationships. The remaining participants (n = 34; 7 groups) viewed psychoeducation and completed the same stigma measures before being informed of randomization to the wait-list control condition. Our results replicate and extend findings from Wade et al. (2011): Completing a single session of group counseling reduced self-stigma and promoted positive attitudes toward counseling. Further, completing self-affirmation reduced postsession perceptions of public stigma. Self-affirmation had no impact on group relationships. Overall, findings suggest the utility of offering a “try-out” session of group counseling as a stigma-reduction intervention; preceding with a brief self-affirmation intervention provides further benefits by reducing perceptions of public stigma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-710
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Counseling Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 24 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Psychology


  • Group counseling
  • Intervention
  • Personal values
  • Self-affirmation
  • Stigma


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