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Groups and Workshops

The University Counseling Center (UCC) offers group counseling sessions focused on specific issues that affect college student life. These sessions are facilitated by a therapist who encourages contributions from all group members, allowing participants to benefit from shared experiences.

  • Feel a sense of validation, acceptance, and understanding—you may find you are not alone in your concerns
  • Learn more about yourself and how you are experienced by others
  • Learn from others’ experiences
  • Help others by sharing your experience
  • Feel encouraged as you see others grow and succeed as they overcome their concerns
  • Learn specific tools to address the unique concerns you have
  • Learn to navigate daily life better and to feel more emotionally in control
  • Learn that taking a risk, trying something new, and stretching yourself may be worth it

Research indicates that group counseling is as valuable as individual counseling (McRoberts, Burlingame, & Hoag, 1998) and for certain students, the ideal form of treatment. In fact, evidence suggests that the issues for which college students most often seek help (e.g., anxiety, depression, and interpersonal concerns) are best addressed through group (Parcover, Dunton, Gehlert, & Mitchell, 2006).

Groups and workshops can give students tangible tools to address the specific concerns they came to the UCC with within a short amount of time. Students benefit from being able to see their life improve after only a few weeks of learning and trying something new!

Current Therapeutic Groups and Workshops at the UCC

The Living Well Workshop is a three-week therapeutic workshop series designed to help you learn useful tools and create flexibility with regard to how you respond to distress. Living Well is a curriculum-driven series, with each workshop building on material from the preceding one(s). The sessions include modules dedicated to: (1) helping you gain a deeper understanding of your concerns, (2) creating flexibility in how you view and approach these issues, and (3) helping you take steps toward living with a wide range of emotions.

Participation is strongly encouraged but personal disclosure is not required. The workshops were designed to respect students’ individual privacy, while still providing ample space to begin building skills through experiential learning opportunities. They will have the opportunity to implement mindfulness and relaxation strategies, deep breathing and visualization techniques, as well as have opportunities to reflect on their values and adjust their life to match these values in order to live life more fully. All participants will receive a workbook to accompany exercises within the workshops. Students may participate in Living Well more than once if they are interested in doing so.

You can listen to any of the following exercises, learned in the workshops, directly from this webpage. The recordings of these exercises are not copyrighted and can be used freely.

Breathing Exercise

This first exercise is designed to help you build the skill of recognition, or noticing what is going on in your body, by focusing on your breath.

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Leaves on River Visualization

This is a visualization exercise based on mindfulness. You will focus on noticing thoughts and sensations without judgment and with more space and flexibility.

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Prayer Exercise

This exercise helps to train your brain to relax while focusing on your breath, as well as a calming word, thought, or prayer.

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Progressive Muscle Relaxation

This exercise systematically relaxes your major muscle groups by briefly flexing your muscles and then slowly releasing the tension.

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Acceptance for Understanding Exercise

This exercise will help you practice relating to some of your concerns differently.

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Relaxation and Spiritual Contemplation Exercise

This exercise provides an extended practice of paying attention to your breath, focusing on relaxing your body, and will end with a scriptural visualization. In this exercise, you are practicing and training your brain to relax and to experience your emotional responses in a controlled way.

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The Anxiety Toolbox is a two-week workshop designed to help you better navigate symptoms of anxiety. The goal is to provide you with the skills to recognize thoughts, feelings, and behaviors linked to anxiety. In addition, the workshop teaches effective means of coping with anxiety so you are better able to manage your distress and live life more comfortably on a daily basis.

Participants are given a free workbook and have the opportunity to create a personalized written plan to address anxiety in their life. They also have the opportunity to practice relaxation skills, learn how to gently challenge and shift anxious thoughts, and identify specific tools to improve sleep, implement self-care, and reduce anxiety symptoms. Each workshop builds upon the previous one, so participants are encouraged to attend each session in order to get the most from their experience.

This 90 minute workshop helps students transform their relationship with themselves and with others by learning how the autonomic nervous system (ANS) strongly influences their responses to people, places, events, and body sensations. Students will come away with their own “personal profile map” that will help them understand how and why their body responds in certain ways and their mind creates a certain story of their experiences. Students learn how their physiology creates their psychology and how their psychology influences their physiology.

This skills development group is designed to help students recognize ways to set and communicate boundaries as they are essential to our health, wellbeing, and even our safety. Students who join this group will have the opportunity to learn tools for setting healthy boundaries, explore ways to improve relationships and self-esteem, and how to develop a support system of people who respect and encourage healthy boundaries.

This group is for students who are interested in better understanding themselves and others. Participants explore new ways of authentically connecting with others, learn more about their personal relational patterns, and develop a greater sense of empathy across individual differences.

The Students of Color group serves as a way to openly engage in dialogues around what it means to be a student of color on this campus. The Student of Color group ultimately serves as a resource for students of color to unapologetically show up and let themselves be fully seen and known, where they can speak from the heart rather than worrying about what is socially acceptable. In a supportive and therapeutic environment, students will have the opportunity to deepen self-understanding and explore ways of relating to others.

This group is for any student who is processing the loss of a significant person in their life. The goal of the group is to offer students a caring space to share, explore, and reflect on their grief journey while experiencing comfort and support from other young adults who are also grieving a significant loss. Join others in a space of healing and compassionate care while honoring the unique grief process.

Learn more with the University Counseling Center’s Groups and Workshops Flyer (PDF).

Current Workshops Outside of the UCC

The Cougars Care workshop series runs every fall semester and provides mental health and well-being training that students can use to help themselves and others. This series is open to all students and provides information on various mental health topics. It is ideal for any students seeking to learn how to support themselves and their friends while also building their résumé and leadership skills. Any student who completes at least four of our Cougars Care workshops receives an official certificate of completion. We are also proud to partner with the APU Department of Psychology to provide SONA credits for workshop attendance.

Registration is now open for the 2023-24 Academic year! Click the link below to sign up for email reminders about program updates, or scroll to your desired workshop to register today!

If you have questions, contact us at [email protected] or (626) 815-2109.

Recognizing a Friend in Need

Friday, October 13, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Ronald 109 or Zoom

Students will learn how to best care for themselves and others through the tools shared in this workshop! Participants will learn ways to recognize, respond, refer, and report students in distress and will have the opportunity to practice effective tools to help them gently share their concern with others when they know a friend is hurting. Students will hear about important campus resources that will provide care and support during challenging experiences.

Becoming a Better Listener

Friday, October 20, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Ronald 109 or Zoom

In this workshop, students learn about active listening, effective attending behaviors, techniques for listening well, and ways to provide empathic support to others. Students have the opportunity to self-reflect and identify ways they hope to strengthen their current relationships through healthy communication and listening.

Coping with Sadness and Depression

Friday, October 27, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Ronald 109 or Zoom

Students in this workshop learn about student experiences and mental health trends on APU’s campus. Specific strategies to effectively combat sadness and depression are discussed to help participants improve their mood, balance their thoughts, and change their behaviors for the better. Students also learn about campus resources designed to support them through difficult times.

Managing Stress and Anxiety

Friday, November 3, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Ronald 109 or Zoom

In this workshop, students learn about the different types of anxiety, and ways students experience anxiety within the university setting. Students have the opportunity to learn three important tools to improve their ability to cope well with anxiety: grounding exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and decatastrophizing. Students leave feeling more equipped to navigate stress and anxiety in healthy ways.

Solving Conflicts and Improving Relationships

Friday, November 10, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Ronald 109 or Zoom

Students in this workshop learn about the qualities of a healthy relationship and ways to establish healthy relationships. They also learn to identify the basic tenets of assertive communication and ways to implement assertive communication to connect well with those they care about. Students also learn about healthy conflict mediation and ways to reach a compromise when conflict arises. Students leave feeling well prepared to deepen their friendships and other relationships.

Setting Goals and Managing Time Wisely

Friday, November 17, 1:00-2:30 p.m., Ronald 109 or Zoom

In this workshop, students learn the myths and facts about time management, and have the opportunity to engage with two effective time management tools designed to help them thrive as APU students. They also learn to identify ways to prioritize their values and set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals to help them succeed.

Inclusion and Accomodation

Please note, APU is committed to creating an inclusive environment that meets the needs of its diverse student body. If you have a disability and require a disability-related accommodation, please contact the UCC by 1 week before the event to begin the conversation or request an accommodation.

Promotional Resources

If you are a staff or faculty member, or otherwise wish to promote these workshops, we welcome your help! Please click the following link to access our promotional slide and handout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Groups and workshops are scheduled weekly at the UCC, and all are welcome to visit our office in Magnolia Court, next to the Student Health Center, to sign up for an intake appointment and to learn more about our groups and workshops. You can also call our office with any questions at (626) 815-2109.
The Anxiety Toolbox Workshop is 90 minutes and offered in-person at the UCC and online. The Transformation Lab is 90 minutes and offered online. The Building Better Boundaries Group is one hour weekly for six weeks. The Self-Growth Group and the Students of Color Groups are 90 minute process groups, and are typically offered weekly during the semester.
A student’s participation will depend on the type of group or workshop they are interested in. Several of our workshops are run similar to a classroom, in that students are allowed to participate as often or as little as they would like. Students are allowed to participate as they feel comfortable and are always encouraged to “pass” should they like to simply participate through observation.
The groups and workshops at the UCC are limited to about 10 students or less and have one or two counselors facilitating the group or workshop. Many students find that they feel supported and validated in their experience as they see that other individuals have struggled in similar ways. It is encouraging to know that they are not alone!
It is extremely important to create a safe, respectful, and trusting environment among everyone participating in a group or workshop. In order to achieve this, the limits of confidentiality are reviewed in the first session of each group and workshop. Confidentiality is maintained by the counselors facilitating the group or workshop and all participants are asked to also agree to keep all information shared within the group or workshop private. Each student is asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before beginning a group or workshop. These guidelines help to ensure the environment is supportive and feels safe to each individual.