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Current Groups Offered at CAPS


Sometimes a problem is better addressed through group counseling than individual therapy. Talking to other students who have similar experiences provides support and perspective. A counseling group can be powerfully healing and for some students, one of the most rewarding experiences during their years at UVa.

CAPS will offer groups and workshops this year. All of these groups are confidential and free of charge to full-time UVa students. In order to join a group, students must first participate in a Brief Screening or Intake Assessment with a CAPS therapist. For more information about group therapy or to schedule an initial appointment at CAPS, please call 434-243-5150.


This on-going support group is open to those previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It will provide a safe and confidential setting where members can explore experiences of living with unstable and unpredictable mood states, changing energy levels and variable functioning. The group offers support and can assist members with coping skills pertaining to mood instability, medication issues, life planning and managing the complexities of relationships from a “bipolar perspective.” A pre-group screening with the facilitator is required to join this group.
Lenny Carter, LPC and Kelley Midkiff, NP, CS
Friday 1:00-2:15
CAPS Large Group Room



Are you thinking of making positive changes in your life regarding the use of alcohol or other substances? CHOICES is a motivational, six-week group to help support you with the changes that you want to make. The purpose of this group is to raise your personal awareness and sense of agency over your life goals while examining the role and impact alcohol and other substances have on attaining those goals. The group is designed to empower students to make positive choices that might reduce the harmful effects of using alcohol or other substances, so students can maximize their potential. Students will recognize and explore their own lifestyle choices and create personal goals for developing preventative measures that increase their resilience and decrease negative consequences of binge drinking and/or substance use. A pre-group screening with the facilitators is required to join this group.
Karen Painter, LPC, and Jeff Jennings, PhD
Wednesday 3:00 – 4:30
Student Health - L010



This is a structured group designed for students who want to address problems of emotion dysregulation, unhelpful coping patterns, and negative self-image. Based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), this 6 week course will help students learn and practice mindfulness, manage emotional crises, and effectively address problems in daily life-particularly in this challenging academic environment. This group focuses on 2 major areas: (1) Mindfulness – skills to help you live your daily life with awareness to the present moment. Mindfulness skills help you reduce self-judgment, identify emotions, and address the present problem effectively. This can help reduce unwanted behaviors such as substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, emotional eating and other mood-dependent behaviors. And (2) Distress Tolerance – crisis survival skills that help you get through painful life situations in the short term without engaging in impulses or unwanted behaviors. After the 6 weeks you will have your own toolkit to pull from whenever you have difficult life circumstances. By learning and practicing DBT skills, participants will experience healthier, fulfilling relationships, and embody the freedom and success of living more fully in the present. A pre-group screening with the facilitators is required to join this group.
Deepti Athalye, PhD, and Karen Painter, LPC
Friday 10:30 – 12:00
Studnet Health - L010



This group is designed for students who struggle with binge eating, purging, food restriction, excessive exercise, body image concerns, and other related issues. The interpersonal focus of the group allows members to explore relational and emotional patterns underlying their unhelpful behaviors. Members can use the group to increase awareness of their triggers, identify emotional needs, practice authentic communication, and learn more effective coping. This is not a structured group, and group members are encouraged to bring in and discuss issues relevant to their own struggles with eating, exercise, and body image. Self-esteem, relationships, self-expression, anxiety, perfectionism, self-criticism, and academic pressure are among the topics that may be discussed. Weekly attendance is expected. A pre-group screening with the facilitators is required to join this group.
Erin Tracy, Ph.D. and Deepti Athalye , Ph.D.
Friday 3:00 – 4:30
Student Health - L010



This on-going group is open to graduate students and students of professional schools. Members will strive to provide a safe and confidential setting where the experiences of being a graduate/professional student can be freely discussed and support as well as coping strategies provided. A meeting with the group facilitator is required prior to joining the group.
Belinda Overstreet, Ph.D.
Friday 3:00-4:30
CAPS Large Group Room



Hoos Stress Less is a 6-week coping skills group designed to reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress (nervousness, worry, panic, racing thoughts, avoidance, and tension). This structured group presents the evidence-based skills and strategies needed to effectively reduce anxiety and stress-related symptoms. A meeting with the group facilitator is required prior to joining the group. 

Monday 12:30-2:00Student Health - L010
Student Health - L010
Beth Eriksen, MA, MT-BC
Wednesday 12:30 – 2:00
Student Health - L010


This interpersonal process group is for students who want to explore their own identity and self-worth, find new ways to connect and communicate with others, and also understand what may be getting in their way of achieving these goals. Students can use the interpersonal interaction of the group to learn about themselves, identify and expand their own interpersonal patterns, try new behaviors and clarify confusing feelings within a supportive and growth producing atmosphere. A pre-group screening with the facilitator is required to join this group.

Monday 3:00-4:30
CAPS Large Group Room
Nicole Ruzek, Ph.D. and Jackie Woods, Ph.D.
Tuesday 3:30 – 5:00
CAPS Large Group Room
Laura Wagner, Ph.D.
Wednesday 3:00 – 4:30
CAPS Large Group Room
Bea Palma Orellana, PhD
Thursday 3:00-4:30
CAPS Large Group Room



This is a weekly support group for international students to discuss common issues as they adjust to the culture in the U.S. and on UVa Grounds. International students often face multiple challenges, including language, communication, social, and academic stressors in a culturally new environment. This group is focused on:

  • Providing a safe and supportive place for connection
  • Discussing common issues during international students’ initial and on-going process of cross-cultural adaptation
  • Learning about resources and coping strategies
  • Discussing challenges and rewards associated with living, learning and working at UVA
  • Facilitating personal and cultural growth and academic success

This group is open to UVA undergraduate and graduate students as well as exchange students, postdoctoral researchers, medical residents and international scholars

Baozhen Xie, Ph.D.
Friday 3:00-4:15
1515 University Avenue, Room 200A



This is a support group for students who want to become more comfortable within themselves, and with their gender identity and sexuality. This inclusive group welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender/gender non-conforming, queer, asexual, and intersex students. Members of the group include those who are fully out to others, those who are out to only a few chosen people, and those who are only just coming out to themselves. The group provides a confidential and safe space in which LGBTQ+ students can explore questions related to gender and sexuality, and also discuss issues related to societal and personal values, relationships, choices, self-esteem, and self-care. This is not thought of as a therapy group because we do not believe that LGBTQ+ identities are indicative of psychopathology. Instead, this group is designed to foster healthier adjustment and self-development in its participants by providing the opportunity to share, and reflect on their experiences, thoughts, and emotions in some depth in an atmosphere that is non-judgmental and supportive. A pre-group screening with the facilitator is required to join this group.
Katie Richard, LPC
Friday 12:30-2:00
Student Health - L010



Have you been curious about meditation? Wondered how this practice might help you quiet your mind and bring you more fully into the present moment? This 8-week skills group will provide an introduction to mindfulness, the foundation underlying ancient and modern meditative practices used to promote self-awareness, acceptance of emotions, and more flexible approaches to thinking and behaving. Students will learn different ways to engage in mindfulness (meditation, mindful eating, and mindful walking) and how to incorporate these practices into their busy lives. No previous experience is necessary, just a curious mind and an openness to learn. A pre-group screening with the facilitator is required to join this group.
Baozhen Xie, Ph.D.
Monday 10:30-11:45
CAPS Large Group Room



This group is for students who have had some prior experience with meditation or mindfulness and are looking for a way to continue their practice in a safe and supportive space. Group will meet on Fridays at 11am. The session will begin with a short didactic introduction, followed by meditation practice and debriefing. No in-person screening required; however, interested students must contact the facilitator before joining. If you are interested, please contact Nicole Ruzek, Ph.D.
Nicole Ruzek, Ph.D.
Friday 11:00 - 12:00
CAPS Large Group Room