BYU students create Difficult Breakup Support Group


BYU’s Comprehensive Clinic and the Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Program have created the Difficult Breakup Support Group, a new therapeutics group for women that will host its first meeting Jan. 31.

Family studies student Laura Waters described the organization as “a group specifically for women who have been through difficult breakups, broken engagements or divorces.”

Waters said the group is not just for BYU students, but for any women in the community who hear about it and want to participate.

Group meetings will include 20-30 minutes presentations from a variety of guest speakers, ranging from professors to licensed professionals, who specialize in families and relationships.

The BYU Comprehensive Clinic provides many different services. (Graphic by Holly Ferguson)

The group members can talk about what they think and feel based on the emotions the presentations may have brought up during the last hour. 

“We’re just hoping that it can be a group and a safe place for women to come and process what they’re going through, to express themselves, to learn how to heal, build happy relationships in the future and have hope,” Waters said.

According to Waters, a few of the BYU faculty members who will speak to the group include professor Jonathan Sandberg, a specialist in attachment theory, and professor Alan Hawkins. Sandberg and Hawkins will speak about the decision to break up and the complexity of that choice. 

MFT faculty members Alyssa Branford Witting and Shayne Anderson are the Difficult Breakup Support Group faculty supervisors.

The idea for starting the group came from Waters, who said she doesn’t like to take credit for it because so many people joined her and ran with the idea. 

“I broke off an engagement about three and a half years ago, and it was a very difficult experience in a lot of ways. It’s taken me years of really hard work and the blessing of therapy and a lot of cool and really hard experiences to come to terms with that experience,” Waters said. “I started thinking about how I wish that there could’ve been resources available for me when I broke off my engagement.” 

After her broken engagement, Waters turned to the internet to find help, support or similar experiences, but found none. She said loneliness served as one of her driving forces for forming the group so other people could turn somewhere and not feel alone.

MFT graduate Kylee Marshall, one of the therapists involved with the group, said she’s noticed a stigma around getting help with things like hard breakups. 

I’m excited for this group because it helps to normalize things like this,” Marshall said. “I think it’ll be a good group to help people have hope for relationships again and to be content with where they are right now.”

Marshall said she wanted to see others learn how to process their emotions and regain hope in dating, relationships and people in general. 

The group is in the process of starting an anonymous blog where people can share their stories as they relate to broken relationships and emotional healing, according to Waters. The first blog post will include the details of Waters’ own broken engagement and the story of Emily Allen, the other brain behind the group.

“(The blog) will be anonymous for anyone who would like to submit a story,” Waters said. “It’s for people who maybe want to turn somewhere, but aren’t ready to come to a group. They can submit and read stories similar to their own.”

The groups hopes to include young men in the program as well, since breakups are something both genders experience, according to Waters.

Students who are interested in participating in the Difficult Breakup Support Group can call the Comprehensive Clinic at 801-422-7759.

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