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

Workshops and Groups

Please contact counselling@admin.ox.ac.uk if you would like to sign-up for one of our self-referral workshops.

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. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Workshop date: Wednesday 7 February (Week 4), 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

  • To join: Email the Counselling Service for further information and to check availability.
  • Next workshop dates: Wednesdays 24 January, 7 February, 21 February and 6 March (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. Email the Counselling Service 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. 

Exam Anxiety

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability. 
  • Next workshop date: Thursday 29 February (Week 7), 13:30-15:00
  • 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.

Finding Your Voice (Social Anxiety)

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability. 
  • Next workshop dates: TBC for Hilary Term
  • Venue: In-person at the Ashmolean Museum

This is a course of two in person 90 minutes long workshops based on cognitive behaviour therapy principles for students who become 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 workshop but the aim is to learn new skills in a supportive atmosphere, given the shared nature of the anxieties. Students will also be expected to carry out some practical homework tasks between sessions. The group size is up to a maximum of 10. Undergraduate and Graduate Students are equally welcome as a range of perspectives are helpful.

Forest Bathing

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Workshop date: Wednesday 7 February (Week 4), 13:00-14:30 and 
  • VenueLady Margaret Hall, College Main Gate, Norham Gardens, Oxford, OX2 6QA 
  • Workshop date: Wednesday 21 February (Week 6), 13:00-14:30
  • 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.

How to Find Your People: Making Friends and Building Successful Personal Relationships

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Monday 29 January (Week 3), 13:45-14:45
  • Commitment: 60 minute workshop
  • Location: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

New to Oxford and haven’t yet found your people? Spent your first term/year working hard and now want to meet some kindred spirits? Still feel you are emerging from Covid times and not yet found your feet socially? Or maybe you’re just wondering how to make friends in this setting?

This interactive workshop aims to help you:

  • reflect on what you want from a friendship and what you can bring to one
  • devise a strategy for bumping into people you’ll get along with
  • break the ice in social situations
  • develop your social skills with other group participants, and
  • cultivate warm and enduring friendships at Oxford with increased confidence and charm.

The group will comprise 6-8 students and is for those who want to develop skills in meeting and making new friends. Students who struggle with social anxiety may prefer attending the ‘Finding Your Voice’ workshop before signing up for ‘How to Find Your People’.

Managing Sleep & Insomnia

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Monday 12 February (week 5), 10:30-11:30
  • 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. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Friday 23 February (Week 6), 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. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Thursday 1 February (week 3) 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 Natural History 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 a large and beautiful example of the mineral labradorite, selected by curator Dr Duncan Murdock. 

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Monday 5 February (Week 4), 10:30-11:30 
  • Venue: In-person at the Museum of Natural History, Seminar Room

Perfectionism - understanding it and strategies to manage it

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Thursday 8 February (Week 4), 15:30-17:00 
  • Venue: In-person at the Museum of Natural History

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. 

 Relaxation

  • To join: No pre-group consultation is necessary. Email the Counselling Service to check availability and reserve a place.
  • Next workshop date: Thursday 15 February (Week 5), 17:15-18:30
  • 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. Email the Counselling Service to check availability. 
  • Next date: Monday 19 February (Week 6), 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’.

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 6 February to 27 February (weeks 4-7 inclusive), 14:30-16:00
  • Commitment: 90 minutes for 4 sessions, plus weekly home practice.
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

This 4-week 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.

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 8 January to Monday 11 March (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: Friday 2 February to Friday 1 March (Weeks 3-7 inclusive), 14:00-15:00
  • Commitment: 90 minutes for 5 sessions.
  • Venue: Online

Low Mood 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 7 February to Wednesday 6 March (Weeks 4-8 inclusive), 16:00-17:30
  • Commitment: 90 minutes for 5 weekly sessions.
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

This is a short, workshop group for students (approximately 8 - 10) who are experiencing persistent low mood and related difficulties.

The group will introduce the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) model to understand how low mood develops and in particular how it is maintained. We will look at patterns of thinking and behaviour that can trap us in vicious cycles and consider approaches, skills and tools for beginning to overcome these. This is an interactive group, in which you’ll be invited to try out ideas and techniques and share your experiences within a safe and supportive atmosphere.

We ask that students first discuss this course with their counsellor, then fill out and return a short self-referral form. There will then be a brief individual meeting with the facilitator in order to make sure the group is right for you. 

Managing Strong Emotions 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 8 February to Thursday 22 February (Weeks 4-6 inclusive), 14:15-15:45
  • Commitment: 90 minutes for 3 sessions
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

The aim of these three sessions is to help students to understand more about their emotions, and so become more confident in managing them. We will discuss strategies to help students self-regulate intense emotions, provide psycho-education, and introduce grounding and distress tolerance techniques that enable students to stabilise and calm their emotions. The first part is mostly psychoeducational; the following 2 parts are interactive and will require some degree of participation.

Mindfulness Course

  • 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 22 January to Monday 26 February (Weeks 2-7 inclusive), 14:30-16:00 
  • Commitment: 90 minutes for 6 sessions and home practice in between
  • Venue: In-person at Student Welfare & Support Services

This practical six-week course is based on the curriculum developed to accompany the book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Professor Mark Williams and Dr Danny Penman and developed by staff at the Oxford Mindfulness Foundation. It is a curriculum that is particularly well-suited to students as it places emphasis on developing the skills needed for managing the demands of university life, as well as techniques for building resilience and developing healthy relationships, that everyone can fit into their busy daily lives.

The aim of the course 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 psychoeducation about rumination, anxiety 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. It is also important that you are able to engage with the home practice, which means being able to set aside up to 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week, for the duration of the course.

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 Foundation (University of Oxford). 

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 9 February to Friday 8 March, 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 14 February to Wednesday 6 March (weeks 5-8 inclusive), 17:00-18:30
  • 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 six 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 15 January to Monday 4 March (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 18 January to Thursday 7 March (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.

 
Was this page useful?*