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Advice and Counselling Service


"Attending the group helped me to have better relationships. It made me aware of some self-defeating patterns I had in relating to others so I could get beyond them and enjoy my time at uni more."

"After group therapy I no longer worry that I am going to make a fool of myself in social situations. My voice doesn’t shake like it used to."

"Being in the group has helped me to develop many life skills. I feel better equipped for the world out there. I am excited about putting the new me into practice."

therapy groupWhat is group therapy?

Group therapy is a talking therapy that takes place in a group. For a fuller explanation click here 

How many people are there in a group?

Each group has an average of 4-6 students and a maximum of 8, plus the group therapist.

When do the groups meet?

We run two therapy groups one on Wednesdays from 2.15 – 3.45pm, the other on Fridays from 2.15 - 3.45pm. Groups meet every week during term time with breaks during vacations being negotiated by the group depending on how many students will be able to attend.

How long could I stay in a group?

The same people stay in a group over a period of time and this allows group members to get to know each other and provides the potential for greater learning and change. Some people stay in the group for a semester, some attend throughout the academic year, and others continue for more than one year.

Who runs the groups?

The groups are facilitated by an experienced group therapist called Dr Jessica Mayer-Johnson who works in the Advice and Counselling Service.

What are the benefits of group therapy?

Joining a therapy group offers the chance to understand more about yourself in relation to other people, and to learn to engage with others, perhaps in a more rewarding way. There is the opportunity to see yourself through the eyes of others and to feel suppored as you gain insight, grow in confidence and develop higher levels of emotional literacy. Read comments from past group members

"Since starting [group] therapy I have noticed I am better able to sleep, better able to stand up for myself. I have more self-confidence and am surer of what I want from life, I can now prioritise the important things in my life". 

"For me the most beneficial change from having therapy has been that one day I noticed all the pent up anger inside me was gone. It was the best feeling in the world; I had learned to stop being a victim and did not let people treat me like a victim, so the anger from feeling impotent and powerless against unjust attacks dissipated."

Who can benefit from group therapy?

Generally the biggest benefits of group therapy come to those who have been struggling with difficult feelings for some time, rather than those who have a specific recent problem who might get what they need from brief one to one counselling. People who lack self confidence; those who find it difficult to talk in groups; those who have distorted beliefs about themselves and what others think about them; those who don't believe they have much to contrbute; those who pretend to be happy but inside they are very sad; those find it hard to trust; those who are afraid to say what they really think; those who keep pushing people away even though they long for closeness; and anyone who finds it hard to make sense of their feelings or those of others and wants to learn and develop in this area. 

" It was a revelation to me that the key to change in my life lay within myself; circumstances were actually secondary though I didn't feel that way when I started therapy. I began with the victim mentality thinking 'poor me, such terrible things have happened to me' and now I think 'everyone around me is responding to the scripting they grew up with from childhood and reacting in a way which they feel is the most beneficial for them', I am so fortunate to be able to understand why I think and act as I do, and why they think and act as they do."

What do people talk about in the group?

People talk about all sorts of things from current day to day frustrations, to deep rooted, painful issues. The counsellor who is leading the group will be experienced in letting the group develop gradually as trust and safety grows, so you won’t have to open up until you feel ready to.

"What I found was that while the group counsellor may give cues to invite me to speak, the group always respected my decision not to say everything. Some of my problems were difficult to talk about, but even when I was vague I was given support." 

How does group therapy work?

Through the relationships within the group, members become aware of how past patterns of behaviour may have blocked development and change. These patterns of behaviour and relating are usually repeated in the group. Observing how this happens and exploring their impact opens the way for understanding and change. It can be a huge comfort to know that others experience similar difficulties, and group members can offer encouragement, and alternative perspectives to each other.  A group can be a powerful agent for change.

" ... I found their stories struck a chord with me. Of course, details were rarely the same, but it really hit home that some of my negative feelings were universal here. This comforted me as I was in good company and felt understood.”

"Group therapy taught me to look and react differently at instances which were causing me stress and suffering. I was pleasantly surprised to see that people around me [outside the group] changed how they reacted to me, to more how I would like them to behave with me."

What if I know someone in the group?

Every effort is made before you join a group, to make sure that you are unlikely to know anyone else in the group e.g. we check that no-one from the same course group is already in the group and that no one you have spoken about to the counsellor is currently attending a group.

If in the unlikely event that you did know someone then Jessica would help you both to manage the situation and come to a decision about how to proceed. This may mean you agree that it is okay for you both to stay in the group, or that one of you will join a different group, or seek help from somewhere else.

What is expected of the members of a group?

Group meetings are confidential and members are asked not to meet each other outside the group. In this way, personal problems can be explored in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality. Members are expected to attend every week as regular attendance is really important in group therapy.

We have a cancellation policy due to the high demand for group places.

If you are unable to attend a group therapy session we ask you to please let us know in advance by calling 0207 882 8717 or emailing

Should you miss 2 consecutive sessions without contacting us about this we will usually make one attempt to contact you by email giving you a date and time to confirm whether you will be attending the next group session, or to let us know of any circumstances that prevent you from attending.

If you do not respond to this email by the date given our usual policy is to assume that you do not wish to continue with the group therapy. Your place in the group will then be offered to another student.

If your attendance becomes irregular due to other commitments we will expect that you discuss this with the group therapist so that a decision can be made together about whether you need to suspend your attendance for a fixed period of time, or leave the group.

How do I join a group?

Most people in the therapy groups are referred by the counsellor they see when they first approach the service. Usually this is because the counsellor has identified that the kinds of difficulties they are bringing are more likely to be improve within a group setting than in one to one counselling. The counsellor will arrange for you to meet individually with Jessica to discuss this, she will want to get to know you and you will be able to ask any questions you may have about group therapy. It can sometimes take several appointments with Jessica before a decision is made and a space becomes available for you to join a group. If group therapy does not seem suitable Jessica will help you to find the most appropriate referral to another service for the kind of help you need.

If you already know that you are interested in joining a group you should contact our frontline team and tell them you are interested in group therapy. They can then arrange for you to meet with Jessica first instead of seeing another counsellor and being referred, or attend a same day appointment and talk with the counsellor you see about whether a group could be of benefit to you.

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