Workshops | University of Oxford
Counselling workshops
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Workshops

A range of workshops 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 short-term, structured 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.

Can't work

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: 12:30-14:00Thursdays (Weeks 0-9 Michaelmas term)

This is a small one-off group session (up to four 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 finishing off your work or 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 on another Tuesday, most people find that coming once is enough to help get them started.

Mindfulness

  • 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 workshop date: 17:30-19:00, Mondays Weeks 1-8 termly
  • Commitment: 90 minutes for eight weekly sessions.

Mindfulness-based approaches are based on a combination of traditional Buddhist meditation techniques and psychological models of mental health. Mindfulness is a simple training that encourages a heightened awareness of the here and now with an attitude of non-judgemental acceptance and allowing. Mindfulness is about learning to be with what is rather than thinking about what might have been or worrying about what could be. Considerable research now demonstrates that regular practice of mindfulness meditation impacts positively on the brain, helps with the regulation of emotion and has the potential to boost physical and mental well-being.

The aim of the classes is to encourage movement away from automatic pilot towards a more developed awareness, clarity and acceptance of present-moment reality. The course includes the introduction to and practice of meditation techniques which help to develop a more heightened awareness of present moment experience, non-judgementally and with a spirit of inquiry. As well as the meditations the course includes basic psychoeducation about common mental health difficulties including anxiety, low-mood and depression through the utilization of a number of exercises drawn from cognitive therapy that demonstrate the links between thinking and feeling.

In order to fully benefit from the course it is important that you commit to attending every session as each class builds on the learning and meditation practises from the week before.

Oxford University Counselling Service has been running mindfulness courses for students since 2009 – one of the first counselling services in the country to do so. The courses are run by Dr. Ruth Collins an experienced mindfulness teacher who trained with Professor Mark Williams and his team at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre (University of Oxford). She is additionally a member of the Mindfulness for Students Network, a group of mindfulness teachers keen to promote the practice of mindfulness in higher education. Visit Mindfulness for Students for useful information about mindfulness and some helpful resources.

Overcoming panic

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: 10:00-11:00, Friday 4 November 2016 (Week 4, Michaelmas term)

A panic attack is an extreme episode of anxiety that can make you feel out of control and very frightened. Symptoms include increased heart rate, breathlessness and dizziness. An individual experiencing a panic attack may feel they are about to collapse or have a heart attack or stroke. Although understandable, such fears are usually groundless. Panic attacks can be very frightening and intense, but they don’t tend to be dangerous. This one-hour psycho-educational workshop will help you to understand what causes panic attacks and how to manage them using a Cognitive Behavioural Approach.

Perfectionism

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Places are limited, please email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: 10:00-11:00, Friday 25 November 2016 (Week 7, Michaelmas term)

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 aims to provide you with a thoughtful space to think about the costs and benefits of perfectionist habits and to consider whether there could be an alternative, more effective, approach that would feel acceptable. The workshop will focus on the impact on current day to day concerns such as time management, submitting essays, procrastination and managing social and other interests. Ideas concerning how perfectionism can develop will be mentioned briefly but family and other developmental factors will not be discussed at length. This workshop will include strategies and ideas that you will be encouraged to put into practice in your own time using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy principles and ideas. You will be encouraged to discuss your experiences at university in pairs and with the group if you feel comfortable.

Relaxation

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop dates: 16:00-17:00, Thursday 20 October 2016 (Week 2, Michaelmas term)

Relaxation is a simple, but very important activity you can do to improve your health and well-being, relax your body and calm your mind. During the workshop you will be able to try out some simple techniques designed to help you understand and reduce common symptoms of anxiety and stress.

Sleep difficulties and insomnia

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: 10:00-11:00, Friday 18 November 2016 (Week 7, Michaelmas term)

Sleep is vital for good mental and physical health and something many of us take for granted yet many students struggle with sleep difficulties. This psycho-educational workshop will help you to overcome your sleep problems through understanding the nature of sleep and the common habits and behaviours that can interfere with good sleep patterns. Using a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy based approach you will learn strategies and techniques that with practice will help you to secure the potential for getting a good night’s sleep.

Finding your voice

  • 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 workshop date: 10:00-11:30, Mondays, Weeks 4,5,6 Michaelmas term
  • Commitment: 90 minutes for 3 weekly sessions.

This is a short course (for approximately 8 students) for students who are finding themselves becoming anxious in social interactions. Challenging situations for you might include socialising informally, attending department or college formal events or speaking up in seminars or groups. 

The group will work together collaboratively with a facilitator to understand why we sometimes get self-conscious or socially anxious and 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, given the shared nature of the anxieties.

We ask that students first discuss this group with their counsellor and then complete a short self-referral form and book a place with reception.