Stress Less: a graduate student’s vision to serve

Rachael Piscatello 

Student Writer 


Toby Shope, a Geneva College graduate intern in the counseling center, is facilitating a weekly “Stress Less” group that meets Mondays 4 - 5 p.m. and is open to all Geneva students.  

According to Amy Solman, director of counseling services, the Stress Less group was all Toby Shope’s idea. Commenting on the way he has created the group, she says, “We’re not requiring students to make a commitment… to come every week.” She continues, “I really want people to just stop in, and they could come back next week, or they could never come back or they could bring friends.” 

Solman said that the atmosphere will be energetic, feeding off of Shope’s own enthusiasm for the group. As Shope explained, each week “presents different coping skills for stress.” Shope will explain and demonstrate these techniques for the attendees. Shope’s goal is that students might leave that time feeling more relaxed and better equipped to address stress in their day-to-day lives.  

Shope says the group will incorporate techniques like stretching, progressive muscle relaxation, art and music. In addition, there may be future opportunities for newcomers to hear advice from those who regularly attend the group and have learned techniques from Shope.  

For students who may be hesitant to attend a counseling group, Solman explained that the purpose of the time is primarily educational. “You only need to share what you’re comfortable sharing,” she said. “There’s no pressure to come and share your whole life story.” 

When asked why the group was formed, Solman said, “Anxiety tends to be the most common reason why students come to the counseling center.” She continued by explaining that they “wanted to make it very non-stigmatizing.” While anxiety can be difficult to relate to, words like “stressed,” and “overwhelmed” are ones most students are familiar with, she said. The hope is that the advertising and name of the group reflect Shope’s and Solman’s desire to make it approachable.  

If students are interested in participating in the Stress Less group, they should email Amy Solman at for more information.