Personal Development Workshops

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Our Workshops

Assertiveness Skills 

Assertiveness is about standing up for yourself and expressing views and feelings in a direct, honest and appropriate way. It means saying Yes when you mean Yes, and No when you mean No for example. It also means expressing angry feelings appropriately, without going 'over the top'. Assertive behaviour can help you get more out of university life, out of your relationships, and life in general.

The workshop will look at:

  • The meaning and implications of assertiveness: differences between passive, aggressive and assertive behaviour.
  • Rights and responsibilities 
  • Techniques for basic assertiveness

Art Therapy

Art Therapy is a form of psychotherapy in which the use of art materials is the primary form of communication through which strong emotions can be expressed, processed and understood. In Art Therapy, the quality of the artwork is secondary to its value as an interactive medium. Using art is seen as a safe way to experiment with relating to others in a meaningful way when words can be difficult. The focus is on interpersonal aspects of communication, and drawing in particular will be used as the medium for social connectedness, together with verbal conversation.

No previous experience of art making is necessary to benefit from these workshops.

CBT for Building Self-Esteem 

This six-session workshop aims to help students to understand and manage difficulties with low self-esteem. Low self-esteem, or having a negative view of oneself, is often a long-standing problem that affects different aspects of people’s lives, including studying, interacting with others, and trying out new activities. When self-esteem is low, this can sometimes lead to other problems, such as anxiety and low mood. This workshop helps people first to make sense of the vicious cycles of negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours that contribute to low self-esteem, and then to try out different ways of breaking these cycles.

You will have an opportunity to:

- develop an understanding of what leads to low self-esteem and what keeps it going

- consider ways of changing negative thinking patterns

- change your behaviour, if there are things you do that can make you feel worse about yourself

- cultivate a more accepting attitude towards yourself

- share experiences with other students who have similar issues

The workshop is open to anyone who feels that low self-esteem is affecting their quality of life.

Dates: SIX weekly 1.5hour sessions

Compassionate Mind Training: becoming a better friend to yourself

This four-session workshop is an introduction to Compassionate Mind Training. Compassionate Mind Training is an approach that can help people to manage self-criticism by developing a more compassionate and balanced outlook. Being self-critical is often a longstanding tendency that affects different aspects of life, including studying, interacting with others, and trying out new activities. When we frequently criticise ourselves, this can lead to other problems, such as anxiety, low confidence, shame, and low mood. Research has shown that developing more compassion for ourselves and others can have beneficial effects on our moods, wellbeing, and relationships. The first aim of the workshop is to help people to make sense of how our minds have developed over time, in order to explain how we can all get stuck in loops of self critical patterns of thinking. The second aim to reduce the impact of self-criticism on our lives by developing more compassion for ourselves, using experiential exercises. 

You will have an opportunity to:

- develop an understanding of the way our minds have developed, which can get us into habits, such as self criticism

- start to develop a more compassionate approach to your thinking and behaviour

- practise different exercises during and in between sessions to become both more mindful of the flow of our thoughts and more compassionate to difficult feelings

- share experiences in a safe environment with other students with similar issues

The workshop is open to anyone who feels that self criticism is impacting on their lives, and who would like to develop a more compassionate approach to themselves.

Dates: FOUR weekly 2 hour sessions

2nd July

9th July

16th July

23rd July

10am to 12pm

Everyone feels anxious in social situations sometimes and there’s nothing wrong with being shy. If this is a problem that interferes with your university life, for example in socialising generally, making friends, or participating in tutorials, then this workshop could be for you. It’s an opportunity to extend your communication skills and learn new ways to express yourself. 

You will have the opportunity to:

  • learn techniques to help manage social anxiety and improve relationships
  • develop specific social skills
  • understand where social difficulties come from
  • tackle shyness
  • help others who are shy

Intimate Relationships 

Today we love what tomorrow we hate,

today we seek what tomorrow we shun,

today we desire what tomorrow we fear (D. Defoe)

Forming satisfying intimate and sexual relationships can feel daunting at times…

We can experience difficulties in getting close, by fear of being rejected or taken over, not understood or undervalued, ignored or criticised, manipulated, or of feeling vulnerable,

For some, close relationships never seem to move beyond a platonic stage and develop into intimacy,

For others, relationships can become volatile and end up destructively, create insupportable anxiety and insecurity, or seem out-of-reach,

Or we feel like we do not even know how to get started…

‘I feel like I am not in or out...’ (M.)

In the Intimate Relationships workshop, we will look together through four weekly sessions (2h) with group discussions, sessions in pairs, and individual reflective work at the following aspects around intimacy :

· We will share and identify your specific concerns about intimacy

· Learn about unconscious processes in choosing (or not choosing) a partner

· Explore personal patterns of relating in intimate relationships

· Discuss difficulties about sexual relationships

· Understand more about disruptions in relationships (crisis, betrayal and ending)

· Reflect and safely experience new possibilities for intimacy

This workshop is largely experiential.

Please ensure before applying that you can attend all sessions as well as the intake phone discussion (1/2h) organized on the preceding Friday. 

Mindfulness Meditation 

'Mindfulness' or increased 'Awareness' lies at the very heart of meditational practice. Although traditionally associated with eastern spirituality, mindfulness can be practiced by people from all walks of life.  The cultivation of 'mindfulness' as a sensory quality, facilitates a new way of 'being' and can have highly significant effects on the way we experience life both internally and externally.  

This clear sense of 'seeing' can allow us to make friends with our thinking mind and in some cases transcend it.  Such practice can bring about a deep sense of inner peace and a fresh acceptance of reality itself.  Mindfulness heightens your ability to focus and greatly improves concentration levels, which may be of great use in academia as well as life in general.

This innovative programme will take place over five weekly sessions, each of 2 hours duration. 

This programme will help you to:

  • improve your focus and concentration levels
  • explore the nature of how your mind works
  • explore how your mind creates unhealthy thought processes
  • achieve a robust and healthy mind, accept reality and the world around you
  • work towards acceptance of unhealthy emotions
  • achieve a deep sense of calm, patience and stillness
  • grow and mature as a true human being

This will be particularly helpful for students experiencing depression, anxiety or any condition involving a highly ruminative fast-thinking mind.

IMPORTANT NOTE - commitment to the full 6 sessions is imperative as is the diligent undertaking of daily life meditation tasks between sessions. Students should consider this carefully before applying to the programme


Building Up Emotional Strength for Adversity

This workshop uses proven techniques to help you build up your strength and resilience by changing the way you think about your difficulties. Some degrees of resilience is an essential ingredient in coping with life.

It is not just about armouring yourself to difficulties: it is about developing accurate and flexible thinking, capacities for creative problem-solving and the ability to see other people's point of view and challenge your own.

The focus of the workshop will be to try and develop these capacities by increasing your awareness of the relationship between your thoughts and feelings and through helping you to locate alternative attitudes and beliefs which can help extricate you from what can otherwise seem like difficult emotions.

Stress Management for Academic Pressures and Exams

This workshop that takes place over three weekly sessions (each lasting for about ninety minutes) provides participants with a model of a self-hypnosis technique that they can use to aid themselves with their exam related anxieties. The workshop aims to offer:

  • an introduction to what it is that we mean by self hypnosis (a state of focused attention and self absorption likened to the state that we enter when we are concentrating on a piece of music, a book, our favourite landscape or a painting)
  • an introduction to hypnotic relaxation techniques (that include breathing exercises and guided visualisation exercises)
  • an introduction to identifying cognitive styles related to the increase of stress
  • an introduction to the experience of hypnosis that offers an opportunity to engage with their world in a different and more positive way that can be used to boost confidence and self esteem
  • an opportunity for some discussion about what participants felt that they gained and learned from the exercises 

The self hypnosis skill coupled with good exam preparation can be an extremely effective working tool.  Commitment to the three sessions is necessary. Participants will be encouraged to practice between the sessions the self hypnosis techniques that they are learning.

Sleep and Insomnia

Stressed, under pressure, anxious or depressed: in any of these states, a good night’s sleep is often one of the first things to go. Then, over time, poor sleep and bad sleeping habits can become entrenched in one’s life. 

This workshop is designed to help overcome the obstacles to sleep: to help establish a healthy, good-sleep-promoting routine, to find ways to manage anxieties that get into one’s mind at night, and to learn relaxation and other techniques that can make a difference. But dealing with established insomnia is never easy.

Workshop members need to be ready to make difficult changes and be prepared for things to get worse before they get better.

Managing Anger

This workshop can help students understand more about their anger. You will have the opportunity to:

  • get together with others dealing with similar issues
  • expand your awareness of the concept of anger
  • highlight unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving which can  lead to anger
  • identify some personal barriers to the constructive expression of anger.
  • identify and learn alternative means of expressing anger effectively
  • develop coping strategies for dealing with anger expressed by others.
  • practice new ways of thinking and behaving in a safe and supporting environment

The workshop is open to students who finds themselves struggling with issues around anger. There is nothing wrong with being angry in itself but sometimes expression of anger can leave you and others feeling distressed and confused. 

This workshop can help you deal with the complex feelings and behaviours that are often associated with anger.

Is there a place for ordinary unhappiness in life?

The impulse to seek happiness and avoid unhappiness is a natural and healthy one. In many cases, you can take active steps to deal with unhappiness, for example changing things in your external life or seeking professional  help. However, ordinary unhappiness is an inevitable part of life, relating either to external facts that cannot be changed or to the structure of one’s internal world. 

Sometimes the price paid to avoid unhappiness can be very high and, paradoxically, not trying avoid it can lead to a better understanding of the self and eventually to a more satisfactory life.  

The workshop aims to help students to understand better the feelings of ordinary unhappiness that canoften arise in our life and deal with them more successfully. Students will be asked to contribute their own ideas about the sources of unhappiness and weshall also look at examples from literature, film, etc.

Finding it Hard to Settle at UCL?

Settling into a new University for some can feel a bit of a struggle and this could be for many reasons:  such as moving to a new city, being away from family and friends, living in new accommodation, getting use to a different language and culture, to name but a few. 

This four session workshop will help you develop the skills to manage your transition to UCL. You must be able to attend all sessions to get the best out of this workshop.

Term 2, 2013-2014

Dates: FOUR Wednesdays

22nd January

29th January

5th February

12th February

Times: 2pm - 3.30pm

Facilitator: Barry Keane