Access Specialist | Content coming soon!
*Due to wait times for Access Appointments, we have made adjustments to ease access for students primarily interested in joining a group. If you’re interested in joining a specific group, call the 608-265-5600 (option 2), and ask to schedule a group screening appointment.
Community starts here.
Group counseling provides students with the opportunity to connect with others in a safe, confidential and supportive space. Groups allow students to share about their experiences with others who can understand and relate to their concerns, connect across differences to learn new perspectives, and experiment with new ideas, behaviors, and ways of being or interacting. Through group engagement, students develop insights and skills that can be used to work through the challenges they face and improve their quality of life. Group counseling has been shown to be one of the most effective strategies to address most issues experienced by students, such as:
- Discomfort in social situations
- Challenges in relationships
- Loneliness and isolation
- Low self-esteem and confidence
- Coping with difficult emotions
- Academic stressors
- Substance use
- Eating concerns
For some students, the idea of joining a counseling group may be intimidating and provoke anxiety. That hesitation and uncertainty is understandable, yet students report having positive and impactful experiences from participating in groups, and feeling improvement in the areas of concern that motivated them to seek services.
Benefits of group counseling
- Increase self-awareness and understanding of others
- Connect with others who have similar problems and experiences
- Decrease isolation and loneliness
- Receive multiple perspectives on your concerns
- Enhance the quality of relationships
- Experience meaningful and authentic connections with others
- Develop new, healthier ways of relating to others
- Identifying, experiencing and expressing feelings with greater ease
- Increase confidence and self-esteem
- Increase ability to give and receive honest feedback
- Internalize lessons learned by helping others in the group
FAQs and common Concerns
Is group counseling confidential?
All group members are expected to keep information about participants and what is discussed in group confidential. That means what’s said in group, stays in group. This is to help the group members establish trust and a sense of safety with one another.
I have a hard time opening up to one person, let alone to an entire group of people.
Opening up about your concerns is hard, because it often means feeling vulnerable, and this can be anxiety provoking. Group provides a safe space to take risks in sharing with others, and allows the opportunity to learn how to express your thoughts and feelings. In doing so, members often find that they're not alone in their concerns, others can understand and relate to their experience, and sharing vulnerability influences a deeper sense of connection with others.
If I participate in a group, will I still be able to receive individual counseling?
Some students who participate in groups also have individual counselors.
Will group count toward my counseling session limit?
No. One of the benefits of our groups program is that there are no session limits. Students have the opportunity to participate in groups multiple times or engage in different groups, over their course of study at UW-Madison.
How many students are in a group?
A group typically consists of five to eight group members with one or two counselors facilitating the group.
How long is the group?
Groups generally meet for one and a half to two hours weekly, and may run between four to 12 weeks per semester, depending on the type of group. We also offer a number of single-session groups and one-hour workshops focused on specific topics.
What if I don’t have anything to say?
While sharing is a valuable part of participating in group, a lot of benefit can be gained by simply listening to others share their stories, and reflecting upon how you connect to what is being shared.
How does the effectiveness of group counseling compare to individual counseling?
Group has been found to be equal to and, at times, more beneficial than individual counseling in addressing most student concerns. Our facilitators are skilled and have strong interests in groups, which adds to the high quality of this form of treatment.
How to join a group
To join a group, log in to your MyUHS account to schedule an Access Appointment or contact the Mental Health Services reception desk by dialing 608-265-5600 (option 2). During your consultation, let the counselor know that you're interested in joining a group.
What types of groups do we offer? (See Spring Schedule)
- Process Groups These groups are helpful in addressing feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, self-esteem concerns, and challenges in relationships. Students will share experiences, give and receive support/feedback, and experiment with new interpersonal behaviors in a safe environment.
- Support/Theme Groups Give and receive support with others who are dealing with similar issues/common experiences.
- Psychoeducational Groups Increase knowledge of mental health concerns and build coping skills.
- Wellness Groups Learn mindfulness-based skills to enhance to manage daily stressors and improve overall well-being.
- Combined Format Groups A blend of different approaches to address areas of concerns.
Interpersonal Process Groups
Interpersonal Process Groups are often the treatment of choice for people who experience troubled relationships, loneliness, depression, anxiety, grief/loss, and low self-esteem. These groups offer a safe environment to identify and explore feelings; to give and receive support and feedback; to practice new, healthier ways of relating to others; and to feel less lonely or isolated.
10:30 am – noon
Jeff Hird, PhD & Mike Balsan, MA
Noon - 1:30 pm
Sarah Kohlstedt, PhD & Amanda Lo, BS
3 - 4:30 pm
Jocelyn Keiser, PsyD & Maha Baalbaki, MS
5 - 6:30 pm
Jeff Hird, PhD & Ben de Boer, PsyD
11 am - 12:30 pm
Jocelyn Keiser, PsyD & Morgan Sparks, BSW
2 - 3:30 pm
Jenna Wieden, PhD & Anna Pederson, MS
3 - 4:30 pm
Jen Moulton, PhD & Haley Pierson, MS, LPC
10:30 am - noon
Rachel Bitman-Heinrichs, PhD & Corinne Werner, PsyD
3 - 4:30 pm
Travis Fox, PsyD & Kallie Kobold, PsyD
1 - 2:30 pm
Jeff Peterson, LCSW & Jamie Welch, PhD
1:30 - 3 pm
Ben de Boer, PsyD & Mike Balsan, MA
3 - 4:30 pm
Sarah Kohlstedt, PhD & Najeeha Khan, BS
10 - 11:30 am
Jenna Wieden, PhD & Egg Guo, MS
2:30 - 4 pm
Jeff Hird, PhD & Isaac Hooley, BA
A supportive group environment focused on the emotional, behavioral, and organizational challenges associated with the dissertation process. Participants establish individual weekly research and personal goals, and share experiences and perspectives around common themes (e.g., procrastination, careers on or beyond the tenure track, advisor etiquette, and juggling multiple life roles).
Wednesdays | noon – 1:30 pm
Group Leader: Jo Hoese, PhD
Eating Concerns Recovery Support Group
For students currently recovering from an eating disorder or distorted body image who would like to talk about themes essential to recovery in a supportive, safe environment. This is a semi-structured, confidential group using metaphor and story along with guided discussion to create community, provide support, and build insight and understanding.
Fridays | 3 - 4:30 pm
Group Leaders: Chanda Bolander, LMSW & Cynthia Smith, BA
Grief Support Group
Participants will gain support with expressing and exploring emotions related to their bereavement experiences. It’s open to students who have lost a loved one (e.g., family member, friend) and combines sharing, discussion, support, and activities.
Fridays | 1 - 2:30 pm
Group Leaders: Jen Moulton, PhD & Jeff Peterson, LCSW
LGBTQ Support & Empowerment Group
A support and psychoeducational group for students navigating sexual and/or gender identity development and acceptance. Students who identify as bisexual, gay, lesbian, queer, questioning, transgender, or any other personally meaningful term are welcome. The group’s focus is on establishing positive connections with others and exploring the process of integrating one’s sexual and gender identities in authentic,
Mondays | 5 – 5:30 pm
Group Leaders: Robyn Rauman, MS & Sam Troemel, MS
Wednesdays | 11 am - 12:30 pm
Michelle Pitot, MSW, EdD & Jamie Welch, PhD
Fridays | 1:30 - 3 pm
Sidra Dillard, MS & Egg Guo, MS
Graduate Students’ Group
This group examines the sources of stress, ways of coping, and the value of peer support in adjusting to a role that often feels like it’s 24/7. Topics will be developed by group members, but may include: time management,
Mondays | 10 – 11:30 am
Group Leaders: Felix Savino, PhD & Haley Pierson, MS, LPC
Thursdays | 2:45 - 4:15 pm
Jo Hoese, PhD & Tracy Guan, BS
Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Support & Empowerment Group
A support and psychoeducational group for students navigating gender identity developments and acceptance. Students who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, and any other personally meaningful term are welcome. The group’s focus is on establishing positive connections with others and exploring the process of integrating gender identity in an authentic
Thursdays | 11 am - 12:30 pm
Group Leader: Sidra Dillard, MS
Graduate Women's Group
Through offering support to others and receiving support, group members are challenged to learn about themselves, initiate change, and exercise honesty in a safe space. Common topics include relationships, academics, stress, depression, and anxiety.
Fridays | 3 - 4:30 pm
Andrea Levy, MD & Kathy Wierzchowski, PhD
Combined Format Groups
Students of Color Process and Support Group
This is a group for any student who self-identifies as a person of color (this can be African American, African, Caribbean-American, Latino/a, Indian, Asian, Asian American Indian-American, Native American, Middle Eastern, etc.). The group will explore ways in which their identity as a student of color affects their academic, personal, and social experience. The group aims to provide a safe and supportive environment for students of color to explore feelings around racially oppressive experiences on campus, strengthen self-concept through activities and discussion, and to help one another navigate academic and social experiences on campus.
Mondays (Men's Group) | 2:30 – 4 pm
Group Leaders: Corey Steele, PhD & Wing Ng, BS
Wednesdays | 2 – 3:30 pm
Claudia Marte, MA, LPC-IT & Dezarae Avalos, MA, LPC
Thursdays | 3:15 – 4:45 pm
Group Leaders: Simone Collins, PhD & Maha Baalbaki, MS
If things sometimes turn out differently than you expect when drinking or using other substances, there are ways to facilitate a better outcome. Join other students for discussions about what goes well and what still needs improvement. Learn skills that can be helpful in whatever goals you hope to achieve including: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
Tuesdays | 10 – 11:30 am
Geoff Brown, LPC & Beth Adamski, LPC
Thursdays | 12:30 – 2 pm
Amy Margulies, LPC, SAC & Michelle Pitot, MSW, EdD
For students whose feelings are often best expressed by the music they listen to. The group explores how meaningful connections with music help us understand ourselves and others. We will have the opportunity to listen to music chosen by group members and talk about ways music reflects our experiences. All identities and genres of music are valued. Designed for the musically minded--no skills needed.
Mondays | 3:15 – 4:45 pm
Geoff Brown, LPC & Amy Magulies, LPC, SAC
Creative Arts Process Group
A therapy group for students willing to take risks in creating art to expand communication, self-expression, and connection with others. No artistic experience is required. The group is focused on the experience of art making rather than on making “good” art. A typical group session includes time for art making based on a prompt or personal inspiration, sharing of artwork, and connecting with group members.
Wednesdays | 12:30 – 2 pm
Michelle Bond, LPC & Kathy Wierzchowski, PhD
Graduate Student Process and Support Group
Graduate students will receive support around common stressors related to academics (“imposter syndrome,” work/life balance, anxiety), connect around shared experiences, and give and receive feedback that can help build greater self-awareness.
Tuesdays | 2 – 3:30 pm
Brian Drozd, PhD & Liz Wescott-Barten, LPC, SAC
Eating Concerns Process and Support Group
For individuals currently recovering from an eating disorder and/or distorted body image. The group provides a supportive environment to help members explore and recognize their own feelings/thoughts/emotions attached to their relationship with food, their bodies, and themselves as it relates to the recovery process. Individuals will connect around shared experiences, and give and receive feedback that can help build greater self-awareness.
Wednesdays | 3:15 – 4:45 pm
Chanda Bolander, LCSW & Molly Caradonna, PsyD
Psychoeducational Groups & Workshops »
Managing Challenges: Skill Building Groups – Undergrad & Grad / Concurrent individual therapy required
This group is based on four components, which are mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotional regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. The sessions are designed to teach students skills based on the four components mentioned and to do so in a structured and supportive environment. Participants will learn and refine skills that modify behavioral, emotional, and thinking patterns associated with problems in relationships.
Thursdays | 2:30 – 4:30 pm
Beth Adamski & Jenna Wieden, PhD
Managing Anxiety & Depression Workshop
Participants will learn new ways to manage anxiety and depression during this two-session workshop. In a supportive setting, students will gain greater awareness of signs and symptoms, strategies to cope with anxiety and depression—including cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms—and will discuss longer term approaches to self-care.
Mondays |11 am – 12:30 pm
9/23 & 9/30; 10/7 & 10/14; 10/21 & 10/28; 11/4 & 11/11; 11/18 & 11/25; 12/2 & 12/9
Kallie Kobold, PsyD, Najeeha Khan, BS; Morgan Sparks, BSW; Cynthia Smith, BA; & Amanda Lo, BS
Thursdays | 12:30 – 2 pm
9/24 & 10/1; 10/8 & 10/15; 10/22 & 10/29; 11/5 & 11/12; 11/19 & 11/26; 12/3 & 12/10
Rachel Bitman-Heinrichs, PhD & Brian Drozd, PsyD
ACT for Social Anxiety
For students struggling with social anxiety, these sessions will be educational and experiential, helping participants develop awareness and skills to overcome anxiety and self-consciousness in social situations. In a structured and supportive environment, students will learn concepts, drawn from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), intended to bolster self-confidence, acceptance, and willingness to confront the social challenges of every day life.
Wednesdays | 1 – 2:30 pm
Ben de Boer, PsyD & Isaac Hooley, BA
Fridays | 11 am – 12:30 pm
Stefanie Denu, Psy D & Molly Caradonna, PsyD
Student Success Workshops (sign up online)
This series of single-session workshops will focus on providing participants with information and strategies to confront common challenges and enhance academic success. Come to any or all four sessions!
Group Leaders: Corey Steele, Wing Ng, BS, Cynthia Smith, BA, Amanda Lo, BS, Tracy Guan, BA & Anna Pederson, MS
Make the Most of Your Time This workshop is designed to teach students time management skills. Participants will learn techniques to organize and optimize their use of time in order to enhance efficiency and support overall academic success.
Fridays |9/20, 10/11, 11/1, 11/22
12:30 – 1:30 pm
Focus Your Attention This workshop is centered on increasing self-awareness, focus and attention. Participants will practice an array of strategies designed to strengthen attention, initiate and prioritize tasks, and minimize distractions and procrastination. If your mind was more focused on the here and now just think what you might accomplish.
Fridays |9/27, 10/18, 11/8
12:30 – 1:30 pm
Taking Down Test Anxiety This workshop is intended to help students manage test anxiety. Even when adequately prepared, it is common for students to experience anxiety before, during, and after exams. Participants will learn strategies to reduce anxiety that interferes with focus and recall of information.
Fridays |10/4, 10/25, 11/15, 12/6
12:30 – 1:30 pm
Wellness Groups & Workshops »
Meditation is an ancient practice that can bring deep levels of calm and relaxation. The focus will be on breathing/concentration practices and different types of meditation. The meditation groups are ongoing and students can join at any time.
Tuesdays | noon – 1 pm (21 N. Park St.)
Wednesdays | noon – 1 pm (Union South)
Group Leader: Bob McGrath, PsyD
Yoga will provide an hour of relaxing movement, stretching, and connecting mind and body. Three sessions are offered.
Mondays | 4–4:50 pm
sessions located in the SAC 4th floor multipurpose room.
Students will work to incorporate focused awareness into their lives, particularly in the areas of academics and studying, relationships, moods and stressors, eating, and generally helping members to develop a more balanced, purposeful, and aware lifestyle. The group combines activities that promote mindfulness with reflection and discussion about ways students can be more present in daily life. Group meets for six sessions.
Tuesdays | 1:30 - 3 pm
Tamar Kelson, PhD & Corinne Werner, PsyD
Mindfully Laugh Out Loud
Laughing is shown to strengthen the immune system, foster positive feelings, and improve interpersonal skills. This group combines mindful practices with interactive laughter exercises and calming movements to teach the body how to laugh without relying on jokes or humor. No previous meditation experience or special sense of humor required. Come to any or all of the bimonthly groups to laugh with us!
Fridays | 2 - 3 pm
9/27, 10/11, 10/25, 11/8, 11/22, 12/6
Stefanie Denu, PsyD & Tamar Kelson, PhD
Practice the skills of mindfulness in this four-week workshop series. Increase self-understanding, present moment awareness, and strengthen your capacity to address stressful daily challenges toward a more vital and valued life. Come to any or all of the sessions that repeat through the semester. Groups led by Tamar Kelson, PhD.
Session 1: Mindfulness of Thoughts
Learn to notice thoughts without getting hooked by distressing worry or self-defeating patterns.
Wednesdays | 1:30 – 3 pm
Session 2: Mindfulness of Behavior
Increase ability to act intentionally, which can improve motivation, concentration, and reaching goals in activities of daily living.
Wednesdays | 1:30 – 3 pm
Session 3: Mindfulness of Emotions
Apply mindfulness to cultivate more positive and balanced feelings regarding yourself and the world around you.
Wednesdays | 1:30 – 3 pm
Session 4: Mindfulness of Body
Focus on the mind/body connection, increasing body awareness to help manage stress and pain as well as improve overall self-care.
Wednesdays | 1:30 – 3pm
Session 5: Mindfulness for End of the Semester Stress
Learn and practice relevant mindfulness based strategies for coping with end of semester stress and develop a plan with specific next steps for navigating end of semester stress.
Wednesdays | 1:30 – 3 pm
Survivor Services Groups »
Drop-in Survivor Support Group
This group is open to all UW–Madison student survivors of sexual assault, domestic/dating violence, sexual harassment, and/or stalking. This confidential group allows student survivors to connect with another and give and receive support in a safe environment. Students can attend sessions consecutively or come as their schedule allows. Check the website, uhs.wisc.edu/survivor, or email email@example.com for dates and times.
Reclaiming Pleasure: Navigating Sex and the Body After Trauma
Reconnecting to your body and sexuality can be an empowering part of recovering from sexual violence. This group provides a space to explore, process, and navigate the effects of sexual trauma on body, sexuality, and sense of self. All bodies welcome.
Mondays | 3 - 4:30 p.m.
Zoë Whaley, MSW, CAPSW & Sidra Dillard, MS
What students are saying
“Group was something to look forward to and it gave me strength”
“I’m amazed how group has helped my social anxiety and being comfortable with myself.”
“This was super helpful and really helped me gain a foothold on my happiness. So glad I did this.”
“This group was a caring, safe community to explore my feelings.”
“This group has helped me to keep a level head and allowed me to stay focused in school. It has allowed me to understand my experiences from many perspectives, which I feel most everyone could use.”
“I learned a lot about myself”.
“Thank you for being the best part of my week, every week”
“The facilitators were warm, sincere, caring, and made me feel safe a supported.”
“Group helped me cope with my emotions in healthier ways.”
“Wonderful resource on campus”
“This has been such a life changing experience”
“My goal was to learn a lot and apply it to my life, and I did”
“I am thankful for these services and think more people should take advantage of them.”