Three girls sitting around wooden table with open books
Three girls sitting around wooden table with open books

Workshops and Groups

We are currently arranging our Group and Workshop Programme for Michaelmas term 2024.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Once workshop dates and times have been confirmed, nearer to the start of the new term,  please complete our  Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to book a place.

The workshops and groups on offer

A range of workshops and groups are available to help you build skills to respond to the demands of life at university. The topics change per term, so keep checking this page for updates. 

Current workshops

The workshops are generally short-term, structured psycho-educational and agenda led. Most come from a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) perspective. The workshops are open to between four and 20 participants at a time.

Workshops can be interactive, so please be prepared to participate (asking questions, doing the exercises, making sense of how the information might apply to you), however, they are not therapeutic groups, and you will not be expected to share anything too personal with others in the workshops. Workshops range from a single session to a workshop series, attending all sessions in a series is advisable as they relate to one another.

 

Self referral workshops & groups:

An Introduction to Mindfulness

  • To join:  No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Workshop date: Wednesday 29 May (Week 6), 14:30-16:00
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

Considerable research has demonstrated that mindfulness is effective for reducing stress, alleviating anxiety, and improving emotional well-being. If you would like to learn more about mindfulness and how it might benefit you, then come along to this introductory 90-minute workshop. As well as providing an overview of mindfulness in theory, practice and research, there will also be an opportunity to experience some key mindfulness practices that will help you to feel grounded and steady in the midst of a busy term. 

Bereavement Support Group (Fully Booked for Trinity Term)

  • To join: Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form for further information and to check availability.
  • Next workshop dates: Wednesdays 1 May, 15 May, 29 May and 12 June (Weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8), 17:15-18:30
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

This is a new group for anyone who finds themselves in an active grieving process and needs support. The group will think together about the lived experience of managing grief while studying in Oxford.

The group will meet fortnightly and we would encourage you to attend all four sessions if possible. There will be a short meeting with the convener prior to the group to work out whether this is a suitable space for you and for you to ask any questions.

Can't Work

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop dates: Wednesday, Weeks 0, 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7, 14:15-15:45
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

This is a small one-off group session (up to six people) for any student who is finding themselves blocked in their work. You might be lacking motivation or finding it difficult to get beyond imagining criticism and judgements. You might think of yourself as a 'perfectionist' or as someone who tends to put things off. You might be having trouble getting into your work or finishing it off and handing it in. 

You will work together collaboratively with a facilitator to understand why you might be blocked and to find strategies which will help you to get working again. Although you are welcome to come back for another workshop session, most people find that coming once is enough to help get them started.

You may like to listen to the Can't work podcasts, and others in the Student Life at Oxford series

Due to the nature and small size of the group, you may not be offered a place right away. 

Endings at Oxford

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form for further information and to check availability.
  • Next workshop date: Monday 6 May (Week 3), 13:15-14:15
  • Commitment: 60 minute workshop
  • Location: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

Your last term at Oxford and not sure what you’re doing next? Feel you want a space to do some concentrated thinking on exploring your options? Have a plan for the future but feel overwhelmed about leaving and need some time to reflect? Wondering how you’re going to manage life once you’ve graduated and want to share tips and ideas with others?

This interactive workshop aims to help you:

  • explore options for next steps if you don’t have a plan
  • think about some of the practical things you’ll need to get in place to make a successful transition to life after graduating
  • reflect on your time at Oxford, your feelings about leaving, and what you’re taking with you apart from your subject
  • identify some of the skills and strengths you’ve developed during your time here, as well as things you might feel you still need to work on once you’ve graduated.

The workshop will comprise up to 12 students and is for anyone who wants a space to think about what comes next after completing their undergraduate or Master’s degree at Oxford.

Exam Anxiety

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Thursday 25 April (Week 1), 14:00-15:30
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

Taking exams is a skill that can be learned. There are ways to prepare academically but also psychologically. This workshop will focus on the ways that you can get into peak mental fitness, using tried and tested Cognitive Behavioural strategies. These psychological skills will stand you in good stead for exams but also more widely in terms of facing a wide range of life challenges.

Self-reflection is encouraged throughout the workshop and you will have an opportunity to discuss your experiences with others.

Forest Bathing

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Workshop date: Wednesday 15 May (Week 4), 12:30-14:00
  • VenueLady Margaret Hall, College Main Gate, Norham Gardens, Oxford, OX2 6QA 
  • Workshop date: Wednesday 29 May (Week 6), 12:30-14:00
  • Venue: Oxford Botanic Garden, Rose Lane, Oxford, OX1 4AZ

Middle of a busy term! Join us in the safety and structure of a group of fellow students to try an introduction to 'Forest Bathing': a way of immersing yourself in nature in a mindful way. The group will be facilitated by experienced counsellors who work at Oxford University Counselling Service.  The 90-minute group will run in the beautiful grounds of the Oxford Botanic Garden and Lady Margaret Hall.

Dress for the outside taking into account local weather on the day, and wear suitable shoes.

Introduction to CBT for Low Mood 

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Tuesday 7 May (Week 3), 16:00-17:30 and Follow up session (optional), Tuesday 14 May (Week 4), 16:00-17:00
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

A brief introduction to the CBT model for understanding and tackling low mood and depression. Suitable for both those who have had some counselling or are new to counselling, particularly useful as an introduction to a CBT informed self-help approach. Participants will need to be willing to work actively in the workshop in pairs and threes, but other than introductions, only willing volunteers will be asked to speak up in front of the whole (small ) group.

Managing Sleep & Insomnia

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Monday 6 May (Week 3), 14:30-15:30
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

Sleep is vital for good mental and physical health and something many of us take for granted. However, lack of sleep, or insomnia, is a common and distressing problem. This psycho-educational workshop will explore some of the everyday difficulties people have with sleep, the nature of sleep and the common habits and behaviours that can interfere with good sleep. Using a cognitive behavioural approach, you will learn strategies and techniques that are helpful for overcoming common sleep problems and increasing the potential for a good night’s sleep.

Managing Panic

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Monday 20 May (Week 5), 14:30-15:30
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

A panic attack is an extreme episode of anxiety triggering physical and emotional symptoms that are unpleasant and distressing. This one-hour psychoeducational workshop will overview the psychobiology of panic attacks and present evidence-based strategies and techniques for overcoming panic using a Cognitive Behavioural approach.

Managing Trauma Symptoms

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Thursday 16 May (Week 4) 10:30-11:30
  • Venue: Online

This new workshop is for anyone who is feeling ongoing disturbance and the after effects of a distressing event.  The workshop is designed to take into consideration the symptoms of PTSD. A formal diagnosis of PTSD is not a requirement for participation.

The workshop does not require participation and students are not asked to disclose personal information. The workshop is instructional and experiential, providing tools to manage:

  • Intrusive distressing memories
  • Recurring distressing dreams
  • Flashbacks
  • Emotional response after experiencing distressing reminders
  • Physical reactivity after exposure to distressing reminders

If you are experiencing the majority of these symptoms on a regular basis, you may benefit from individual counselling.

Mindfulness at the Museum

Mindfulness is a state of mind characterised by an intentional focus on present moment awareness with an attitude of gentle curiosity. Cultivating awareness of our moment-to-moment experience when viewing art opens the possibility for a richer, more vivid engagement with the object being viewed. Ruth Collins, Counsellor and Mindfulness Teacher, will begin this workshop with a short mindfulness practice which will be followed by a guided 'Mindful Viewing' exercise bringing focus to an art object selected by the Collections Manager from the Department of Eastern Art at the Ashmolean Museum.

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Friday 10 May (Week 3), 10:30-11:30 
  • Venue: In-person at the Ashmolean Museum

Mindfulness for Stress and Anxiety

  • To join:  No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Workshop date: Monday 29 April (Week 2), 14:30-16:00
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

Just being alive means to experience stress and anxiety in some form or other. Anxiety is a normal, inevitable human experience, and, up to a point, can be tolerated. However, persistent stress and anxiety can cause significant distress, and can sometimes be so intrusive that it stops people from feeling they can function normally.

Regular practice of mindfulness has been shown to be an effective approach for improving emotional health and well-being and can be greatly beneficial in helping with the management of stress and reducing anxiety. Integrating mindfulness into everyday life enhances our ability to respond more skilfully to the everyday challenges that we face through a gradual waking up from living on ‘automatic pilot’ into a more sustained, embodied present moment awareness, ultimately leading to a greater sense of calm and balance.

This 90-minute workshop, led by an experienced mindfulness practitioner, will provide: an overview of stress and anxiety and how it impacts on us mentally and physically; an introduction to mindfulness and an understanding of how the practice of mindfulness can help with the management of stress and anxiety; an opportunity to experience some key mindfulness practices; tips on beginning today.

Please note: This workshop may be complementary to Stressed!, while the topic is similar, the approach and focus will be different. You may want to consider attending one or the other, or you might want to attend both, to help you evaluate and manage your stress in different ways.

Perfectionism - understanding it and strategies to manage it

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Thursday 16 May (Week 4), 15:30-17:00 
  • Venue: In-person at the Museum of Natural History, Seminar Room

Many students value high standards in their academic, extra-curricular and personal activities. For some, however, the relentless pursuit of excessively high standards can become self-defeating. In those instances, the pursuit of perfection rather than excellence can contribute to high levels of anxiety, stress and low mood. 

This workshop will provide a thoughtful space to think about how perfectionism can develop and offer ideas and strategies to support alternative, more effective approaches. 

Reducing Digital Distraction with Dr Ulrik Lyngs

Are you easily distracted on your smartphone or laptop? Are there too many tabs open in your brain? The ReDD Workshop provides actionable steps to take back control of your digital life.

The workshops are open to all students and take place in person or online.

"Your workshop has changed my life", "the most useful webinar I have ever attended in my career" - Previous workshop participants

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary, click on the link for dates and times and to book https://redd-project.org/oxford/ 
  • Venue: Online with Zoom, In person at Somerville College & Student Welfare & Support Services

 Relaxation

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Thursday 9 May (Week 3), 17:00-18:15
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

This is a one-off, self-referral workshop, which is guided and psycho-educational in nature, exploring basic physiological relaxation and meditation techniques, including some gentle yoga therapy. 

The workshop covers mindful, diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, body-scanning, visualisation and mindfulness based meditation exercises. Participants are advised to secure a quiet, uninterrupted space where they can lie down on a yoga mat or sit on a comfortable chair. No prior yoga or meditation experience is required. Copies of the exercises and scripts will be emailed out to all participants after the workshop. 

Stressed!

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next date: Monday 29 April (Week 2), 11:15-12:15
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

Feeling stressed? Too much to do, not enough time in which to do it? Overwhelmed by all the demands of life at Oxford? From micro stressors to major life events, stress is part of our daily lives. This workshop aims to help you think about what stress is, how to identify signs and symptoms, and what causes you stress personally, as well as how to rethink your approach and implement some practical strategies for tackling that ‘feeling of overwhelm’.

Please note: This workshop may be complementary to Mindfulness for Stress and Anxiety, while the topic is similar, the approach and focus will be different. You may want to consider attending one or the other, or you might want to attend both, to help you evaluate and manage your stress in different ways.

Students of Colour Workshops

Relationships at Oxford

Our single session workshop will give you an opportunity to explore some of your relationships during your time at Oxford. Whether they be with our peers, families, or academic; plutonic or intimate, our relationships impact how we function in the world. We recognise as students of colour; these relationships can present us with struggles that not everybody sees. This group offers an opportunity to explore your experiences and the impact of these challenges.

  • To join:  No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next Date: Wednesday 8 May (Week 3), 17:00-18:30
  • Venue: Online with Zoom

Leaving Oxford, what next?

Surviving Oxford can be no mean feat, particularly as a student of colour. Often leaving can represent many things, relief and concern, a sense of achievement, elation but also grief, a difficult emotion for not quite achieving the hope and aspirations you may have once held for yourself as a student at Oxford University. This workshop is a space to take a look at what leaving Oxford means for you.

  • To join:  No pre-group consultation is necessary. Complete our Self-Referral Workshop Request Form to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next Date: Wednesday 15 May (Week 4), 17:00-18:30
  • Venue: Online with Zoom

All of our groups are intentionally kept small, and we welcome all students, both Postgraduates and Undergraduates.

Groups by counsellor referral:

Anxiety Group

  • To join: Please make an appointment for individual counselling and let your counsellor know that you would like to explore the possibility of joining this workshop.
  • Next dates: Tuesday 14 May (Week 4), 13:20-15:20 and Tuesday 28 May (Week 6), 14:30-15:30
  • Commitment: 2 sessions - one 2 hour session and one 1 hour (follow-up) session
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

This 2 session course is for students who are finding they become anxious in a variety of settings and ways. This might include intrusive thoughts, settling down to sleep at night, sitting exams or even waking up in the morning with anxious feelings that you can’t explain.  

The group will work collaboratively, with the facilitators, to understand why we sometimes experience anxious feelings, the physical symptoms of anxiety, and to consider some ways to make changes. Some degree of group participation will be required as this is an interactive course, but the aim is to learn new skills in a supportive atmosphere. The group will consist of 14 - 16 students using small breakout-rooms for short activities.

Courage to Connect - healing from unhealthy/abusive relationships 

  • To join: Please make an appointment for individual counselling and let your counsellor know that you would like to explore the possibility of joining this group.
  • Next dates: Monday 6 May to Monday 10 June (weeks 3-8),  16.00-17.00
  • Commitment: 60 minutes, weekly - participants are asked to commit to all sessions 
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services 

Courage to Connect is a safe, confidential and structured group for students who have previously experienced any form of coercive control, relationship abuse or domestic abuse. The group is also suitable for students who have grown up in a household where they have witnessed, or been affected by, domestic abuse. The group aims to empower you to better understand your experiences, through connection and education, reducing self-blame, shame and isolation. We will explore topics such as re-building identity, understanding victim behaviour, and addressing power and control. This group is open to Undergraduate and Postgraduate students. 

Groups are kept to 6 students maximum and are facilitated by a member of the Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service, and a member of the Counselling Service, both with training and experience working with survivors of domestic abuse. 

Graduate Students' Group

  • To join: Please make an appointment for individual counselling and let your counsellor know that you would like to explore the possibility of joining this group.
  • Next dates: Monday 15 April to Monday 17 June (Weeks 0-9 inclusive), 15:00-16:30
  • Commitment: 90 minutes weekly for a minimum of one term
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

This weekly group is for DPhil students. You will generally be mid-20s or older and will be in the process of negotiating the transition from being a post-graduate student to working professionally. You might be facing a variety of academic challenges - structuring and pacing your work, managing relationships with supervisors, maintaining a work-life balance, etc. - and at the same time you will also often be responding to the life challenges associated with more mature relationships, greater independence, and planning a future beyond your studies. You might also want to bring individual issues and concerns to the group so that attention can be given to these, too.

LGBTQ+ Supportive Group

  • To join: Please make an appointment for individual counselling and let your counsellor know that you would like to explore the possibility of joining this group. 
  • Next dates: Wednesday 8 May to Wednesday 5 June (Weeks 3-7 inclusive), 17:00-18:00
  • Commitment: 60 minutes for 5 sessions.
  • Venue: Online

Self-Compassion Group

  • To join: Please make an appointment for individual counselling and let your counsellor know that you would like to explore the possibility of joining this group.
  • Next dates: Friday 17 May to Friday 14 June (Weeks 4-8 inclusive), 10:00-11:30
  • Commitment: 90 minutes for 5 weekly sessions
  • Venue: Online

The Self-Compassion Workshop takes a biopsychosocial approach to compassion, and this forms the basis of Compassion Focused Therapy and Compassionate Mind Training, founded by Professor Paul Gilbert. 

We’ll be learning what compassion is and isn’t, and getting to know your relationship with it… 

Does the very mention of compassion make you feel uncomfortable?  
Is it all about being nice to yourself and sleeping-in? 
Isn’t your inner critic and perfectionist the reason for your success to date?  
Do you deserve compassion? 

We’ll be addressing such questions and concerns, and many more.

We’ll be learning why and how compassion helps us to thrive and to bear the difficulties posed by being human, and specifically in your life context.   

We’ll be getting to know and understand our inner critic. 

And every week, you’ll be learning how to cultivate compassion and tame your inner critic, through a range of techniques, drawing in part, upon mindfulness.  

This psycho-educational workshop series will invite you to explore your relationship with compassion and your inner critic.  You will be encouraged to discuss your experiences and ideas from the workshop in pairs, small groups, and within the main group. However, you won’t ever be singled out to answer a question or disclose personal information. All exercises are voluntary. 

If you are interested in attending this course, please speak to your individual counsellor. There will be a 10-minute assessment with the course facilitator to check that the course is a good fit for you at this time.  

To get an idea of whether compassion work is for you, students can listen to the following podcasts on the Counselling Service podcast page: 

https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/welfare/counselling/self-help/podcasts

Self-Compassion Parts 1 and 2 

Self-Criticism (via CBT for low mood)

Students of Colour Group

  • To Join: Please email the Counselling Service for a self-referral form and any questions you may have about this group.
  • Next dates: Wednesday 22 May to Wednesday 12 June (Weeks 5-8 inclusive), 17:30-19:00
  • Commitment: You will need to commit to attending 4 sessions on the above dates, each lasting 90 minutes. 
  • Venue: Online

This group provides a unique place of refuge and safety for students to reflect on issues that may impact their academic and social experience at Oxford.  Any issue may be explored in this confidential and supportive group setting, which may include academic pressure, racism, relationship problems, and so on. Attending this group will provide opportunities to learn from and develop with your peers.

Graduate and undergraduate students of colour are welcome. The group will consist of eight participants.

The group will be facilitated by two members of staff from the Counselling Service who are also persons of colour.

Survivor Support Group

  • To Join: Please email the Counselling Service for a self-referral form and any questions you may have about this group.
  • Next dates: Monday 22 April to Monday 10 June (Weeks 1-8 inclusive), 17:30-19:00
  • Commitment: Weekly 1.5hr sessions - participants are asked to commit to all sessions.
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

A safe space for survivors of sexual abuse and violence, whether historic or recent, to find support whilst navigating life at Oxford University. There will be no expectation for participants to share the details of their experiences, however, sharing the impact and your current thoughts, feelings and responses is encouraged. This group is open to Undergraduate and Post Graduate students.

Groups are kept small and confidential and facilitated by a member of the Counselling Service, experienced and trained in working with survivors of sexual violence and abuse.

Undergraduate Students Group

  • To join: Please make an appointment for individual counselling and let your counsellor know that you would like to explore the possibility of joining this group.
  • Next dates: Thursday 25 April to Thursday 13 June (Weeks 1-8 inclusive), 18:00-19:30
  • Commitment: Weekly for 90 minutes.
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

This weekly group works in much the same way as individual sessions. There’s no agenda, people simply bring whatever is on their minds – this can be something very immediate like an essay crisis or relationship breakdown or something to do with life outside/before Oxford. Facilitated by two experienced counsellors, the group provides an opportunity for participants to be a bit more open and, in doing so, find not only that they are not alone but also that their peers can be a real source of encouragement and support. This group is most suitable for those in their second year and upwards. There will usually be 6-8 participants.

All information submitted by you to access any workshop or self-referral group (i.e. any electronic forms you complete), a minimal record of your engagement with the workshop/group, and any student evaluation completed relating to the workshop/group within the Counselling Service, will be kept confidentially and securely on our database at the University Counselling service for six years in line with legal requirements and then destroyed.

 
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