Clinical Groups

Groups are a great way for students to connect with peers, learn new skills and strategies, and grow both emotionally and educationally! 

Groups are often the most effective way to: 

  • gain support and encouragement from others; 
  • gain specific skills to improve your life; 
  • develop relationship skills. 

SMHW offers three different types of groups: (1) structured, skills-based groups; (2) support groups, and (3) process-oriented therapy groups.  

  1. Structured groups  are particularly beneficial for people seeking skills and strategies to deal with specific issues and symptoms that have been negatively impacting their daily lives, such as high anxiety, panic attacks, depression, lack of motivation, mood fluctuations, and lack of interpersonal assertiveness.  
  2. Support groups provide an atmosphere conducive to sharing your concerns with others whose lives are impacted by similar issues. The focus is on providing a space for validation, encouragement, and mutual understanding. Support groups do not emphasize dynamics occurring between members, nor do they emphasize change in behaviors. 
  3. Process-oriented therapy groups average 6-8 group members and meet weekly with one to two therapists for 75-90 minutes. Process groups can be especially effective for people interested in exploring their interpersonal style and enhancing their approach to relationships in such areas as trust, intimacy, anger, conflict, assertiveness, taking risks, or improving self-esteem. 

Ground rules, including confidentiality, are typically established with group members to help promote trust. For most benefit, consistent attendance is strongly encouraged. Read Debunking Myths about Group Therapy to learn more about how group works. 

UCSF Clinical and Outreach Groups are available only for currently enrolled UCSF students who are eligible for Student Mental Health and Wellbeing services. Participants must be located in CA to participate in groups. Groups are filled on a first-come first-serve basis. 

Accessibility: UCSF welcomes people with disabilities to our events. To request a reasonable accommodation, please contact the facilitator(s) of the group listed below. 

Spring 2024 Clinical Groups 

To learn more about our groups or to sign up, please follow these steps: 

  1. Sign into the student portal 
  2. Select the Groups/Workshops menu 
  3. Select "Sign Me Up" button to add* your name to the group. One of our facilitators will reach out to you to provide more information and confirm your group participation 

*Note: Adding your name to the list does not automatically include you in the group. A pre-group meeting with facilitator(s) may be required. For more information about SMHW Clinical Groups, please contact Alexandra Thurston at [email protected].

ACT Mindfully* 

*This group is offered via HIPAA-Compliant Zoom Meeting at this time. 

Thursdays, 2:30-3:45 p.m., beginning May 2 with Errol Feria, LMFT and Cynthia T. Diwan, LMFT

Join Mental Health Providers from SHCS for a 5-session group featuring skills from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  Through didactic and experiential exercises, you will learn how to create meaningful changes in your life by enhancing psychological flexibility, developing self-compassion, acting from your values, and learning how to live more in the present moment. 
Space is limited; RSVP is required. 
Please select either the Tuesday or Thursday group when you RSVP. 
Please note: A pre-group meeting with the group facilitator(s) is required for participation. 
For questions or to request a reasonable accommodation, please contact Errol Feria at [email protected]

Dungeons & Therapy 

Tuesdays, 2-3:30 p.m., beginning May 7 with Anja Bircher, PsyD and Errol Feria, LMFT 

Role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons allow participants to take on the persona of fictional characters and to complete daring adventures across mysterious worlds. This therapy group takes the core elements of these games but also challenges you to set goals for adaptive behavior, attitude, and mindset in the real world. 
In Dungeons & Therapy, you will work with Anja Bircher, PsyD and Errol Feria, LMFT to create a fantasy character that is personalized to you and your therapeutic goals. This character might excel at something with which you struggle, be the complete opposite of who you are, or be designed to help you emphasize any given attribute. Within this 5-session group of Dungeons & Therapy, you will interact with other players not only to find treasures, solve puzzles, and converse with enigmatic individuals - but also to express meaningful parts of yourself. No previous experience with Dungeons & Dragons or any other RPG is required. 
This group will meet in-person at the SMHW Mission Bay Clinic. 
Please note: A 50-minute pre-group meeting with the group facilitator(s) is required for participation. 
For questions or to request a reasonable accommodation, please contact Dr. Anja Bircher at [email protected]


Spring 2024 Outreach Groups 

Centering Our Narratives: Community Space for BIPOC-identified UCSF Students 

*This groups is offered via HIPAA-Compliant Zoom Meeting at this time. 

Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday, noon-1 p.m., beginning April 3 

Mental Health Providers Nicole Reinosa, PsyD and Liliana Campos Ramales, PsyD will facilitate a BIPOC-centered space intended to connect folks with one another, share reflections about resisting various forms of oppression and racism, and co-create community to explore a sense of joy and ancestral resilience. 
RSVP is required. 
For questions or to request a reasonable accommodation, please contact Drs. Nicole Reinosa at [email protected] and Liliana Campos Ramales at [email protected]

Tolerating the Moment  

April 15, noon-1 p.m., Self-Soothing 

April 29, noon-1 p.m., Radical Acceptance 

May 6, noon-1 p.m., Wise Mind ACCEPTS 

When you are in a state of high emotional stress, do you experience overwhelm, shut down, act impulsively or say things you wish you could take back? Join Mental Health Providers Alexandra Thurston, PsyD and Cynthia T. Diwan, LMFT to learn Distress Tolerance skills from Dialectical Behavior Therapy to navigate highly difficult or stressful situations. All workshops will offer a mixture of didactic and experiential practices. Come to one session or come to all! 
Session 1, Self-Soothing 
When we are relaxed, our bodies feel and function better, which allows us to cope more effectively with stress. In this workshop, participants will be invited to reflect on their current needs for soothing in times of distress, and learn self-soothing strategies using the five senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch - to find a state of calm when it is most needed. Please note: Space is limited for this event. 
Session 2, Radical Acceptance 
Radical acceptance is a process of transforming suffering into ordinary and workable pain. When we are not busy fighting reality, we have more energy and emotional peace. It is in this liminal space we can find the beginnings of rejuvenation. In this workshop, participants will explore a current stressor through an intermodal process, including somatic awareness, drawing, and language arts. 
Session 3, Wise Mind ACCEPTS 
In those moments where we don’t have the time or space to fully feel our feelings, or it’s just not effective to do so, it can be helpful to shift the focus until a later time. In this workshop, participants will learn a set of skills to distract and help get through these challenging moments skillfully. 

For more information, please contact Dr. Alexandra Thurston at [email protected] or Cynthia Diwan, LMFT at [email protected]