The Counselling Service runs several groups to help support people.  

Working in groups offers an opportunity to discover both yourself and others and exploring issues within groups can provide valuable insights into our ways of thinking, behaving and relating. Sharing problems and finding out about how others experience their difficulties can encourage you to work with issues that may previously have seemed insurmountable. People often find that group members, as well as the counselling facilitators, are able to offer useful feedback and insight. This process of sharing problems allows members of the group to experience relating in a way which can be helpful in everyday settings.

Some of our groups operate on a drop-in basis and others will require advance booking. As demand can be high for our groups, students will only be able to book themselves onto one of our closed groups per term. Booking for the summer term 2017 is now open. 

Summer 2017 drop-in groups

The following groups will take place during the summer term 2017. They are drop-in groups so advance booking is not required. They will all take place in Hampton house, so please come early to the floor listed for the group you wish to attend and the sign outside the lift will direct you to the correct room where the group is taking place.  Most groups are facilitated by members of the Student Counselling Service team, others are presented by external facilitators with experience of a particular area.

Mindfulness practice group

  • Thursdays 5.15 – 6.00pm, starts 27 April, ends 8 June, room S.58, 2nd Floor, Hampton House.

In this group you will have an opportunity to sample a variety of mindfulness skills and meditation practices. Mindfulness exercises can help centre the mind, manage stress and restore balance to our lives. This group is open to all students, newcomers and those who would like an opportunity to consolidate their mindfulness practice in a group setting. 

Mindful yoga for stress

  • Mondays 6.30 – 7.30, starts 24 April, ends 5 June, except 1 May, 29 May room S.58, 2nd Floor, Hampton House.

This workshop will introduce you to some of the skills we can learn from mindful yoga, and how we might use these skills to understand and manage stress. We will do some gentle movement and relaxation practices together and you will leave with skills to practice at home. No experience is necessary and everybody is welcome whatever your level of fitness or physical capacity. 

Get to grips with your study strategy: overcoming emotional and mental blocks

  • Wednesday 12.30 – 1.30pm, starts 26 April, ends 7 June, room S.58, 2nd Floor, Hampton House.

These practical motivational sessions will look at strategies for overcoming various psychological blocks to study. Tailored to what individual students bring, the focus could be motivation, procrastination, concentration, time management, delivering presentations, essay and project planning, revision and making the most of feedback. 

Summer 2017 bookable groups

Pre-booking is essential for the following groups and this can be done using our online booking form. Attendance is required at all of the sessions. Booking for these groups is now open.

Self-esteem support group

  • Group 1: Monday 1.15 – 2.15pm, 5 weeks, starts 24 April, ends 5 June, except 1 May, 29 May. *Please note this group is currently fully booked. You may wish to apply for another group or will be placed on the waiting list if you apply for this group.*
  • Group 2: Wednesday 1.00 – 2.00pm, 6 weeks, starts 3 May.

This group provides a safe, confidential space to explore our relationship to ourselves and how we might make changes in our lives which help us to grow in confidence, self-belief and self-worth, enabling us to feel more content, happy and fulfilled in ourselves. 

Understanding ourselves

  • Group 1: Tuesday 5.00 – 6.00pm, starts 2 May.
  • Group 2: Wednesday 3.15 – 4.15pm, starts 3 May.

This small group offers a shared counselling space to talk with others about your life and concerns, and to learn from one another. Common themes include stress, depression, anxiety, academia, family, and relationships. A maximum of eight students can join. 

Support group for students who experience severe and enduring mental health difficulties 

  • Tuesday 11.30 – 12.30pm, starts 2 May.

This group is aimed at students who experience severe and enduring mental health issues to provide a safe space to meet and explore the impact of this diagnosis on their experience at University, and to help them establish and maintain their emotional and mental equilibrium across time. 

Mindfulness group

  • Group 1: Wednesday 4.30 – 5.30pm, starts 26 April. *Please note change of start date from 3 May to 26 April. This is different to the date advertised on the flier*
  • Group 2: Thursday 3.30 – 4.30pm, starts 4 May.
  • Group 3: Friday 3.15 – 4.15pm, starts 5 May.

Mindfulness offers the possibility of a more compassionate, appreciative and spacious way of life. Come and learn through a structured 6 week group: different meditation practices, exercises, techniques and gentle dialogue, how to break habitual patterns and to respond creatively to stress, low mood and other challenges life brings.  

Family relationships

  • Thursday 5.00 – 6.00pm, starts 4 May.

This group is for those who have struggled or are struggling with difficult family relationships. This could be around parent, sibling or general family dynamics. The group offers a space for people to share their experiences and to support each other, in trying to find a more hopeful way forward.  

Managing anxiety with CBT

  • Wednesday 1.00 – 2:30pm, starts 3 May. *Please note this group is currently fully booked. You may wish to apply for another group or will be placed on the waiting list if you apply for this group.*

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.  This group will introduce the role of relaxation, problem solving, thought challenging and behavioural change in managing and decreasing the symptoms of anxiety and it will show you how to change negative patterns to improve the way you feel.  

Managing depression with CBT

  • Wednesday 6.00 – 7.30pm, starts 3 May. *Please note this group is currently fully booked. You may wish to apply for another group or will be placed on the waiting list if you apply for this group.*

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected.  This group will help manage difficult thoughts and feelings associated with low mood, identify and challenge negative thoughts to develop a more balanced way of thinking and re-connect with activities that you enjoy and that give you a sense of achievement.  

Walk and talk group

  •  Friday, 10.30 – 11.30am, starts 28 April.

Meet new people in a low pressure environment, whilst also enjoying the benefits of getting outside and walking. This new initiative co-run by Timothy Dowling (local nature observer and experienced walk leader) and staff from the Student Counselling Service, is intended to help prevent isolation, increase motivation and maintain wellbeing. Advanced booking essential. Please Phone 0117 954 6655 or email

The walk will begin from the Retreat Café BS9 1FG. We will gather from 10.15 and set off at 10.30am, returning to the café for 11.30am. We plan to walk whatever the weather, so please come dressed appropriately and with trainers or walking boots for comfort.

Booking a place

Drop-in groups do not require booking but most of our groups (as stated above) require pre-booking. We are currently able to offer students a place on one bookable group per term. To reserve your place, please fill out our booking form. All groups are run by the Student Counselling Service and all will take place at Hampton House, St Michael’s Hill. When you have booked a place on a group, you will be contacted to confirm the room where the group will take place. Please contact the service if you have access requirements which would make leaving the building by stairs difficult for you in the event of a fire.

Groups resources

Groups resources can be downloaded. We recommend double-side print to reduce the waste of paper. If you want us to print out for you, please let us know we can provide double-side hardcopies. 

FAQ's for groups

Am I eligible to attend groups?

Any student who is currently registered with the University of Bristol is eligible to attend one of our groups. You can attend a drop-in group alongside any other support you are accessing in the service and no pre-booking is required. If you would like to attend a bookable group then we would need to limit this to one group per term. We are also only able to offer you a bookable group OR face to face counselling and you will need to choose your preference on our booking form.

Can I only attend one session, or can I attend more than one?

For our drop-in groups you are able to attend as many of these sessions as you wish, provided there is space when you arrive. For bookable groups you are asked to make sure you can attend all of the sessions.

How do I sign up to drop-in groups?

You do not need to sign up beforehand, simply arrive 10 minutes early and take the stairs or the lift to the floor indicated for the relevant group (as detailed in each group on this page). When you get to the floor follow the signs for the group to the room. If you have any trouble finding the room, come to the service reception on the third floor and we will be happy to direct you to the room.

Do I need to bring anything to register for a drop-in group?

Please bring your student card (Ucard) with you so we can check that you are a registered student. You will also need to sign a register for the session.

What if too many people attend a drop-in group and there is no space?

We endeavour to welcome everyone who wishes to attend our groups but this may not always be possible. If you attend and the group has reached capacity we will not be able to let you into the session. If you are turned away from a drop-in group session you could try coming the following week as these run on a regular basis. If you feel in need of some input/support, you may wish to consider our self-help drop-ins, or accessing our resource library in the main reception of the service. You can also always make contact with the service if you need any further support from us. 

What if I arrive late?

If you arrive any more than 5 minutes late then you will not be able to attend the group.

What if I have not previously registered with the Student Counselling Service?

If you have not previously registered with the service, we will send you a registration link to complete for our records after the session. You will only need to complete this once in the academic year if you are only attending drop-in groups or workshops. 

Ideas for future Groups

We welcome your ideas for future groups that could be run by the Student Counselling Service so if you have something in mind please tell your counsellor or contact us using our ideas form.

It is a safe place to vent feelings and do something positive about a bad period you may be going through that you wish to change.

Group helped by giving new ways of seeing things and was a creative outlet for both negative and positive feelings. It has helped me to stay in university and in my life as a whole.

It made me a lot more self-aware and helped me to understand my problems better.

Everyone I've come into contact with has been friendly, helpful and non-judgemental and this group especially has really helped me.