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.

Low Mood

  • 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 workshop date: 15:30-17:00, Wednesdays (Weeks 3–7)
  • Commitment: 90 minutes for 4 weekly sessions.

This is a short course for students (approximately 8) who are experiencing persistent low mood.

It will be run by two facilitators who will introduce the CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) model to understand how low mood develops and in particular how it is maintained. We will be identifying vicious circles involving thinking and behaviour patterns and then considering approaches, skills and tools for beginning to tackle these. Some of this will be in the form of psycho-education but there will also be discussion in pairs and as a group, to explore how to relate theory to individual practice. You will be encouraged to test things out in the time between sessions and we will review how things went subsequently.

Your counsellor will discuss with you whether or not this group might be helpful for you, and if so will then complete a referral form.

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: 11:15-12:45, Friday (Weeks 0-7, 9, 10)

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 might keep reading, looking for that one miraculous article and struggle to start writing and finding your own words.  

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. You will be contacted at the start of the week and asked to confirm whether you will be coming on the following Friday. 

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: 11.00-12.00, Friday 5 May 2017 (Week 2)

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: 13:00-14:30, Thursday 8 June (Week 7)

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: 18:00-19:15, Wednesday 3 May (Week 2); 18:00-19:15, Tuesday 9 May (Week 3)

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

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: 11:15-12:15, Friday 12 May (Week 3)

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: 11:30-13:00, Mondays (Weeks 3-6 inclusive)
  • 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.

Revise your way - revision and examination preparation workshop

  • 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 dates: 18:00-19:30, Wednesday 10 May (Week 3)

This is a one-off group session (from six to 12 people) for any student who is preparing to take examinations. You may be just starting to think about revision and finding this is bringing up a mixture of thoughts and fears. You may be having difficulty motivating yourself to get started or stay on track. 

In this group you will have the chance to work together and with a facilitator to generate and share some ideas for starting, structuring and improving revision and keeping examinations in perspective. Although you are welcome to come back on another Tuesday, most people find that coming once is enough to help get them started.

NB It is advisable to listen to the Counselling Service podcasts on Examination preparation and revision parts 1-3 in advance of the workshop as you may benefit more from the group if you have this information.

Self-care and resilience

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  •  Next workshop date: 18:00-19:30, Wednesday 17 May (Week 4) or Wednesda 24 May (Week 5)

Tired of Trinity term? Stressed and overwhelmed with exams and deadlines? Busy, busy, busy?

Then come to this one-off self-care workshop. For an hour and a half you will experience exercises that include self-compassion, self-care and resilience building to help you find some space in this busy term. Aimed at helping you to self-soothe and find a grounding compassionate presence, you don’t need to do these exercises well or be graded in any way, simply to let us know that you wish to come and attend. Be kind to yourself and be more than your CV.

The maximum number of people will be 12. There will be a reserve list.

There may be a dog present as a therapy pet – so those who are allergic or have a fear of dogs please be warned. 

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