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September 15, 2019

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UNLV offering group therapy for those jolted by election

Therapy Wall

Mary Altaffer / AP

A commuter pauses to read the Post-It notes on the “Subway Therapy” wall, Friday, Nov. 11, in New York. Matthew Chavez started the installation in the underground passageway, where people are encouraged to leave their feelings about the presidential election.

After a bitter campaign season, Americans reacted to the 2016 election results with a mix of emotions that surfaced in protests across the nation, stream-of-consciousness social media posts and messages scribbled on Post-It notes inside a New York City subway tunnel.

Some people were angry. Some were elated. Others just needed to talk.

To that end, the UNLV Center for Individual, Couple and Family Counseling is offering postelection group therapy sessions starting today.

“The bottom line is, we want people to feel safe to be able to talk,” said Katherine Hertlein, director of the marriage and family therapy program at the UNLV Greenspun College of Urban Affairs.

Graduate students in the marriage and family therapy program had noticed an uptick in clients who simply wanted to discuss the election results, hence the creation of the group sessions, Hertlein said. The patients were experiencing feelings associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, among other symptoms.

The sessions — free for UNLV students and employees and $10 for everyone else — will be offered from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Fridays through Dec. 16, with the exception of Nov. 25. The UNLV Center for Individual, Couple and Family Counseling is located in the Paul McDermott Physical Education Building A, which is near Harmon Avenue and Swenson Street.

Hertlein said she hopes participants find comfort from being able to discuss their feelings, realize they’re not alone and leave with a sense of empowerment. The group sessions also will touch on how people can mend relationships with family or friends who may not share their political opinions, she said.

“No matter how the end result would have been with the election, we believe people were ready to say something,” said Hertlein, who noted that she hasn’t witnessed such an emotional response to past elections. “I haven’t seen it as divisive.”

Hertlein encouraged people to refrain from judging others who continue processing the election results. People react differently to situations based on their temperaments and resiliency levels, she said.

For more information about the group therapy sessions or to sign up, call the center at 702-895-3106.

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