Intensive group programs

If you are dealing with concerns like depression, anxiety, or stress, your counsellor may recommend a group counselling program.

Online programs

Online programs are available for you during the COVID-19 outbreak. You do not need a referral to join any of the programs below.

International Student Support Group

While the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting everyone, we recognize our international student population is likely being impacted in unique ways. This online support group is intended to help build a community for UBC international students, offering a platform where you can come together and support one another through this challenging time.

Topics that may include:

  • Overcoming procrastination – how can I be more productive?
  • Staying motivated in an online academic world
  • Coping with missing home
  • Finding your social feet in a virtual UBC community
  • This is not what I dreamed of – coping with the unexpected
  • Re-entry fearrs – resilience skills in the "new normal"

To participate, you must be currently residing in British Columbia and have access to both a private and quiet space with stable internet that can support Zoom.

Group session details:

Fridays from June 26 – July 31, 2020

1:30 – 2:30 pm

Please note that registration closes 60 minutes  before the start time of the group session. Instructions for joining the meeting will be emailed to registered students before the session.

Register now

UBC Graduate Student Online Support

UBC recognizes that graduate students are facing ongoing challenges in their daily lives in support of preventing the spread of COVID-19. The uncertainty and stress at this time can often feel overwhelming, and maintaining a sense of community is now more important than ever. 

Graduate students are welcome to participate in this online group program onto focus on staying connected, discussing what matters most to you, and building resilience to manage this challenging time. 

The program is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT helps you limit the influence of  your worried thoughts, low moods, and self-defeating behaviors in your life. 

Topics may include:

  • Handling uncertainty and worry about academic and career goals
  • Shifting and rebuilding routines
  • Finding or creating meaning in your daily life
  • Dealing with loneliness and distance from support networks
  • Staying motivated and creative 
  • Living in alignment with your values 
  • Radical acceptance and vulnerability
  • Work-life balance

Please note that we are not able to discuss medical concerns in these sessions. Information about joining the meeting will be emailed to registered students in advance of the session.


  • Karen Flood, PhD, Psychologist, Counselling Services
  • Samantha McGee, MA, Pre-doctoral Intern, Counselling Services

Group session details

Thursdays, 2:00 –3:00 pm

June 4 – July 30, 2020 (No session on June 25, 2020)

Register now

Safety and Resilience Online Group

This group is for survivors of interpersonal violence of all genders to support each other while also exploring various topics such as safe coping strategies and skills, boundaries, and inviting resilience and self-compassion.  

To participate, you must be living in Canada and have access to a private and quiet space with stable internet that can support Zoom. 

Group session details:

This group will be offered again in Fall, 2020.

Mindfulness Training for Sport: During Covid and Beyond

While the current pandemic is impacting everyone, we recognize that varsity student athletes are affected  in unique ways. This skill-based online workshop series will help you build skills in mental performance while you and teammates are training at a distance. 

This workshop will present ways to interact differently with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours using a present, accepting approach, including:

  •  Mindfulness and Self Compassion                                         
  •  Tolerating (Sport) Distress
  •  Concentration and Coping with Distractions
  •  Self-Regulation: (Sport) Values and Body Awareness to Improve Performance
  •  Accepting, Adapting, and Adjusting in (Sport) Performance

To participate, you must be residing in British Columbia and have access to a private and quiet space with a stable internet connection that can support Zoom.

Please note that this group is open to UBC varsity student-athletes only.

Group session details:

Wednesdays June 3 - July 7, 2020

11 am - 12 pm

Register Now

In-person group programs

How to join a in-person group

Drop in to Counselling Services for an initial consultation. A wellness professional can speak with you about your concerns and discuss whether a group counselling program is the right fit for you.

What to expect from intensive group programs

All groups focus on teaching effective coping skills and provide opportunities for practice in sessions. Groups also provide guidance on how to apply new skills and insights to real life. 

  • Participate in a confidential and comfortable environment
    Groups range from 5 to 15 participants and each participant decides how much they feel comfortable sharing. All group participants are asked to maintain each others' confidentiality as a way of making group counselling a safe space for everyone.
  • Attend regularly and practice your skills
    It's important to attend group sessions regularly and to practice skills between sessions to maximize the chances of feeling better sooner.
  • Get the help that meets your needs
    Groups meet throughout each term and participants can start at any time and continue to attend as long as needed.
  • Follow-up with your Wellness Advisor
    If additional support is needed it is easy to make a follow-up appointment with your Wellness Advisor to adjust your wellness plan.

Anxiety Toolbox group

The Anxiety Management group uses both mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on developing the skill of being mindful.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction is an effective technique for working with anxiety, chronic illness, and various types of uncontrollable stress.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a highly effective treatment for various forms of anxiety. It focuses on teaching active coping strategies that target problematic types of thoughts and behaviours that are specific to anxiety.

Over six weekly sessions, participants explore how to shift their inner experiencing of their anxiety away from fear and avoidance toward acceptance, awareness, and positive change.

Focus of weekly sessions

  • Understanding and working with the physical effects of anxiety
  • The ‘What' skills and strategies to manage anxiety
  • The ‘How’ skills and strategies to manage anxiety
  • Strategies to managing anxiety pitfalls
  • Challenging anxiety using thoughts and actions
  • Understanding how lifestyle choices and perspective taking can help manage anxiety

These six weekly sessions cycle continuously throughout each term. After the initial six sessions participants can further strengthen new skills by continuing in the group as long as they like.

Mind over Mood group

Are you coping with low mood, self-critical thoughts, worry, or feeling hopeless or worthless? Have you noticed changes in sleep, activity, energy levels or your appetite? If you are experiencing mild to moderate depression symptoms this group may be for you.

This one hour, 6 week evening group enables you to learn skills and strategies to cope with thinking patterns and behaviour that contribute to depression. This group combines in-person and web-based therapy (using Therapist Assisted Online) and draws on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

Focus of weekly sessions:

  • Motivation and Low Mood
  • Stress and Depression
  • Coping with Unhelpful Thoughts
  • Taking a Step Back and Acceptance
  • Social Networks and Problem Solving
  • Communication Styles and Strategies

You can begin this group at any session and repeat sessions as often as you find helpful.

Mindfully Managing Stress group

The Mindfulness Stress Management group is designed for students who are experiencing problems with one or more of the following:

  • Coping with negative emotions
  • Tolerating distress
  • Maintaining healthy relationships with others

The Mindfulness Stress Management Group uses Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, which incorporates a focus on acceptance, validation, and various forms of mindfulness to build a greater awareness of one’s own moment-to-moment thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. This can be especially therapeutic when struggling with stressful events over which you have little control (e.g., the end of a relationship, others’ problematic behaviours, delays or setbacks due to external circumstances, etc.). Dialectical Behaviour Therapy also incorporates traditional Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) strategies for individuals who wish to learn healthier communication and interpersonal skills and develop more positive ways of behaving and thinking. This has become a widespread form of therapy for a variety of different issues due to its demonstrated effectiveness in research and clinical settings.

Over six weekly sessions, participants will learn how to cope more effectively with stressful situations in their lives using Dialectical Behaviour Therapy strategies.

Focus of weekly sessions

  • Mindful awareness: Tuning into the present moment
  • Acknowledging & coping with negative emotions
  • Mindful relaxation: Ways to tolerate distress
  • Positive coping thoughts: To use in times of stress
  • Communication skills: To de-stress your relationships
  • Building relationships: Using mindfulness

These six weekly sessions cycle continuously throughout each term. After the initial six sessions participants can further strengthen new skills by continuing in the group as long as they like.

Safety and Resilience Group

A Trauma Group for Survivors of Power-Based Inter-Personal Violence

This is an ongoing drop-in psychoeducational group for trauma survivors:

  • Who have experienced power-based inter-personal violence such as: sexualized assault, childhood sexualized abuse and/or physical abuse, intimate partner abuse, torture etc.
  • Where the abuse has resulted in traumatic stress.

The Safety and Resilience group will focus on increasing participants understanding of the effects of trauma, increasing safe coping in order to better focus and learn, and increasing connection to self and others.

Safety is the main focus of this group, based on the three stages of trauma recovery (Safety, Mourning, and Reconnection) proposed by Herman (1992).  The first step in healing from trauma is to establish internal and external safety in your life.  For example, beginning to establish internal safety might involve survivors challenging negative self-talk and shame based thoughts.  To establish external safety, survivors may practice setting physical and emotional boundaries with themselves and those around them.  This group will help survivors of power-based inter-personal violence establish internal and external safety. Examples of some of the topics covered in the group: 

  • Safe Coping Strategies and Skills
  • Understanding Trauma Symptoms and Using Grounding to Contain them
  • Challenging Shame and Inviting Resilience and Self Compassion
  • Boundary Setting in Creating Healthy Relationships
  • Healing from Anger
  • Discovering Meaning

This group runs almost continuously throughout each term.

Learn more about the Phases of Trauma Recovery.

Nourish Group

Cultivating a Healthy Relationship with Food

This is a psycho-educational group for people concerned about their eating behaviours:

  • Eating too much, feeling a loss of control around food, purging, thinking about food, and/or eating more than they want to, and
  • Having difficulties with body shape, image, or appearance

 Participants will: 

  • Increase their understanding of factors that contribute to disordered eating and body image concerns 
  • Learn regular eating habits, emotional regulation skills and how to eat mindfully 
  • Discuss and practice skills aimed at cultivating a healthy relationship with food within a safe space. 

The group will meet weekly and is based on principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness, both of which demonstrate effectiveness in helping individuals overcome eating struggles. CBT skills help to regulate eating and manage unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. Mindfulness helps with learning to be present, compassionate and accepting of oneself and facilitates new ways of interacting with one’s thoughts, feelings and sensations. 

Every week, time will be spent on reviewing eating patterns, regular eating and mindfulness practice. 

Additionally, a different topic and new strategies will be introduced each week, for example: 

  • Improving body image 
  • Mindful eating 
  • Emotion regulation 
  • Self-compassion 

Group sessions run weekly. We recommend that participants complete all sessions. Participants will need to meet with a Group Facilitator prior to joining the group.


Counselling Services

Counselling Services

Group counselling

Telephone: 604 822 3811

Fax: 604 822 4957

Brock Hall
1874 East Mall Room 1040
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1

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