Workshops | University of Oxford
Three girls sitting around wooden table with open books
Three girls sitting around wooden table with open books

Workshops

Due to COVID-19 all workshops this term will be in an online format. Please contact counselling@admin.ox.ac.uk if you would like to sign-up for one of our online self-referral 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.

Anxiety Management Group

  • To join: Students are asked to first discuss this course with a counsellor, prior to completing a short self-referral form and booking a place at reception. There will be a short assessment interview in the week before the commencement of the course.
  • Next workshop date: Tuesday 27 October-Tuesday 17 November (week 3-6 inclusive), 15:30-16:30
  • Commitment: 60 minutes for 4 sessions, plus weekly home practice.

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 10 - 12 students.

Body Image 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 work workshop date: Starting Wednesday 11 November (week 5), 15:45-17:15, sessions running across two terms up to 3rd week (inclusive) HT.

Commitment: 90 minutes for 7 sessions.

The Body Image Group is a short-term body acceptance group.  It is designed to help students resist pressures to conform to the body ideal, and feel better about their bodies.  It is a structured group but includes exploratory time and group discussion.  Numbers are kept small (up to 8 people) to promote a welcoming atmosphere and allow everyone to participate

If you are interested in attending this course please speak to your individual counsellor. We will offer a short assessment before the group.

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: Tuesday (week 0,2,4,6,8), 11:30-12:30 or Tuesday (week 1,3,5,7,9) 15:00-16:00

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 and asked to confirm whether you will be coming the following week. 

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: Thursday 5 November-Thursday 3 December (week 4-8 inclusive), 15:30-17:00
  • 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.

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: Wednesday 28 October-Wednesday 2 December (week 3-8 inclusive), 15:30-17:00
  • 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: Friday 20 November (week 6), 10:30-11:30

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: Thursday 5 November (week 4), 15:30-16:30

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 how perfectionism can develop, as well as offer ideas and strategies to support alternative, more effective approaches.

You will be encouraged to discuss your experiences in pairs and with the group if you feel comfortable.

Relaxation

  • To join: Email the Counselling Service to express your interest and you will be signed up to attend the workshop, with an email invite to attend via Zoom being sent out nearer the time. No pre-group consultation is necessary. 
  • Next workshop dates: Tuesday 10 November (week 5) 18:00-19:15 

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 facilitator is Anne-Marie Daly.

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. 

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: Friday 6 November (week 4), 10:30-11:30

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.

Social Anxiety Course

  • To join: Students are asked to first discuss this course with a counsellor, prior to completing a short self-referral form and booking a place via reception. If you wish, you can have a brief call to meet the facilitator prior the start of the course.
  • Next workshop date: Monday 9th November -Monday 30th November (week 5-8 inclusive), 14:00-15:00
  • Commitment: 60 minutes for 4 sessions, plus weekly home practice.

This 4 week course is for students who are finding they become anxious in social situations. These might include informal social settings e.g. meeting up with friends or making friends or more formal situations e.g. tutorials, classes or presentations.

The group will work collaboratively, with the facilitator, to understand why we sometimes experience anxious feelings, the physical symptoms of anxiety, and to consider some ways to make changes. The focus is on learning how to manage social anxiety and is not a social skills course. We will talk about behaviours that can be helpful or unhelpful in managing anxiety and make a plan for how you can begin to use these ideas in everyday life going forwards.

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. Discussions will be with the whole group and in twos or threes. The group will consist of up to 10 students.

The Records and Data we keep, in line with Data Protection Act 2018, are as follows:

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

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