A pre-counselling appointment is an informal chat with one of our staff counsellors so that we can find out about what is happening for you, the kind of support you would like, and to think together about whether counselling is the best service for you. They can last up to 45 minutes and can be booked online.

At the end of the pre counselling meeting, the counsellor will agree on the next steps with you, and will email you to confirm them. They will then place you briefly on a waiting list until a regular appointment slot becomes available, and they can support you while you wait. Please bear in mind that your allocated counsellor might not be the same person with whom you have the pre counselling meeting.

As the Counselling Service is now operating remotely, all counselling appointments will be held with video calls (via Zoom) or phone calls. Once you have booked an appointment with one of our counsellors you will receive an email with instructions on how to set up a Zoom account and a link to access the session at the scheduled time. Alternatively, we can offer appointments over the phone, for example, if you do not have access to a stable internet connection at home. 

All remote counselling appointments are confidential. The Counselling Service handles all personal information on students using the Service according to the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, in certain cases, it may be necessary to disclose information for safeguarding purposes, for example, if a student is at risk of harming themselves or others. Please see our full confidentiality and privacy policy.

Please make sure you are in a safe and private space before starting remote counselling meetings.

If you don't have internet access then we can look at other ways of having the session, such as by telephone, or other ways that we can support you, for instance via a scheduled email response. Let us know your situation and your preferences and we'll do our utmost to find a way to support you.

A private space is very important for counselling. It may be possible for you to ask people where you live for sole access to a space for a period of time. Then, just before your session, remember to put a 'do not disturb' note on the door of the room you're using. A standard counselling session lasts 50 minutes, but we can offer shorter sessions. If it is impossible to find privacy for an internet chat or a phone call, then we can look at other ways of offering you some support, such as by email.

Just because your sessions with us will come to end, it doesn't mean that your support has to. Continued remote support is available online or by telephone, either from us or from other agencies:

In the counselling service

You may, depending on your circumstances, be able to maintain email or phone correspondence with your counsellor in the form of ad hoc chats to check in on how you are doing.

Outside the counselling service

Other services are also providing remote support:

Student Nightline - available in term time by phone, Skype, email and instant messaging.  Tel 020 7636 0101

Email: listening@nightline.org.uk or visit their website.

Samaritans - A 24-hour listening service is available on Tel: 116 123, 

email jo@samaritans.org or drop into 46 Marshall Street W1F 9BF any day 


Mind: open Monday to Friday, 9am - 6pm on 0300 123 3393

The Mix: a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@themix.org.uk

Rethink Mental Illness: offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (open Monday to Friday 10am - 4pm). 

The Free Psychotherapy Network: offering online groups for people living in the UK who are isolated during this coronavirus crisis:   

Please check our Web Resources page as we continue to add more information.

The answer is 'yes'. If your emotional and mental health problems have prevented you from completing or attending your assessment, we may be able to support your application for mitigating circumstances. We offer this support in the context of 'regular and on-going' meetings, and it's worth mentioning this to your counsellor sooner rather than later. Please note that during this temporary period of remote studying, you are not expected to provide external evidence e.g. medical evidence to support your application. Please feel free to check the university mitigating circumstances page for more detailed guidance.

If you are, or someone you have met with is, diagnosed with Coronavirus, please refer to the latest advice from Public Health England and the University pages, and inform your counsellor when possible via email. Depending on your health status and your capacity to engage with the counselling sessions, your meetings will resume remotely when this is deemed appropriate. Please be assured that your counselling work will not be ended because of a coronavirus diagnosis. We strive to help students feel connected under these unprecedented circumstances.

All GP surgeries are currently offering online services. You can sign up on the NHS website.

Counselling Service Frequently Asked Questions

To see a counsellor, you would first come to a 'Pre-Counselling meeting' at your regular campus, either Holloway or Aldgate. These sessions take place daily and can be booked in advance, for the week in which you are booking. The session lasts about 50 minutes. Further counselling sessions will also normally last about 50 minutes.

We call this a 'pre-counselling meeting' because it is slightly different to regular counselling sessions, eg the counsellor will probably take notes. It is an opportunity for you to tell the counsellor what is concerning you. The counsellor will ask you some questions to help clarify your situation and will communicate his her understanding. The counsellor helps you decide on future action, including the possibility of further counselling.

The length of the session varies, anything from 25 to 50 minutes. Counselling sessions arranged thereafter will normally last about 50 minutes.

There are several options, the decision about which will be made in consultation with you:

* No further action, and you are always welcome to make contact again if necessary
* Referral to one of the University’s counsellors for individual counselling, usually a further six sessions
* Periodic review with a counsellor - where you would meet at less regular intervals
* Referral for group work
* Referral to another source of help within the University
* Referral to an external organisation, e.g. GP; Psychological services; external counselling
* The counsellor may advise you on various forms of self-help material available

It will probably not be the counsellor seen in this first meeting. Sometimes it is. In addition to a team of permanent counsellors, the Service offers placements to counsellors and psychotherapists who are in the advanced stages of their training. This enables us to offer a professional service to a larger number of students.

The Counselling Service has worked very hard to reduce waiting times and generally operates without a waiting list. There may be times when it is necessary but waiting time can be reduced if you give us a wide range of days and times when you can meet for ongoing sessions.

Yes. The content of sessions is confidential to the Counselling Service. All counsellors are required to attend professional supervision, during which the content of sessions may be discussed. This means that your counsellor may discuss your circumstances with other counsellors in the service. Unless you request it and give permission, s/he will not discuss your circumstances with anyone else in the University.

The Counselling Service is part of a wider integrated Student Services Department. There are times when a counsellor may be better able to help you by speaking with other professionals in Student Services. We would do so only with your permission and only essential information would be discussed.

Yes. There are some very rare exceptions, for example, if the counsellor believes that you may cause serious physical harm to yourself or someone else. In these circumstances, your counsellor may disclose personal information. Such disclosures would be made on a ’need to know’ basis and would usually happen only after consultation with a senior colleague and (if possible) with you. For more information on our 'Confidentiality and Privacy Statement' please check our main webpage.

Counsellors are required by their professional body (eg BACP/UKCP/BPS or other) to keep a brief record of counselling sessions. In the University Counselling Service, we ask counsellors to record only factual information from the session. You are welcome to discuss the matter with your counsellor and to view your notes.

The decision to take part in counselling is a step towards resolving your difficulties. In order to gain the full benefit of the sessions you need to commit to the process and recognise that you too have responsibilities.We therefore encourage you not to miss appointments. However, if you know in advance, you should inform your counsellor in the previous session, by telephone, by dropping into Student Services and leaving a message or by email. If you miss your first appointment without letting us know, we are unlikely to offer you a second. If you miss several appointments, these will be counted as part of your six session contract. In addition, the Service reserves the right to terminate your counselling at any stage.

As your six sessions come to an end, you and your counsellor will review how the work has gone. Most students find that the six sessions are enough and explore one of the following available options: 

  • Bring counselling to a close
  • Start a new counselling contract if appropriate and possible
  • Arrange periodic review meetings
  • Referral to an external agency, eg your GP, specialist counselling or psychotherapy, self help groups
    Consider referral to another internal service such as a counselling group or another service in the Student Services.

One of the commonest problems of being a student is leaving revision or assignments until the last minute. If you like having tension and work well with this, then you may not want to change. However, unexpected events may later throw you off course and you may find that putting things off sabotages your progress. For more information on how to tackle 'procrastination' please check our Self Help pages.

Yes, a counsellor may be able to help you with what is called 'mitigating circumstances'. The counsellor may also be able to help you with an appeal. However, such support is usually, though not always, in the context of 'regular and on-going' meetings. If you are experiencing difficulties which impact upon your studies, then you are advised to discuss these with your counsellor at an early stage, so that arrangements can be made before the mitigation and appeals deadlines. If you have not attended counselling regularly or you have missed appointments, then the Service may refuse to support your application. The Service will consider supporting mitigation and appeal applications in relation to emotional and mental health problems only. We cannot support applications which are based on the following: medical issues, legal issues, transport problems, computer problems or problems which we cannot verify.

For advice on how to make an application for mitigation or on making an appeal, please consult our guideline and the University's Rules and Regulations webpage on mitigating circumstances.

This is not correct. The Counselling Service is not part of the NHS nor does the service hold medical records. If necessary, and with your agreement, we will liaise with the NHS on your behalf. The NHS will record details on your medical records. Records kept by the Counselling Service are for our purposes only.

Although our online appointments are offered via an encrypted online platform (Zoom), we cannot guarantee the absolute confidentiality of online communications. As regards to recording, it is not permissible by law (GDPR) to record or publicise the content of the counselling exchanges or share them with a third party without the participants’ explicit informed consent. Sometimes, recorded sessions are needed for training purposes; in these cases, counsellors will seek and obtain your written permission before recording your exchange.

As per our policy, we don't offer ongoing counselling support to students who are already receiving ongoing therapy with another mental health provider. One one hand, this is to allow more students, who are not supported, to be seen by a counsellor within a reasonable amount of time. On the other hand, working with multiple counsellors can raise certain complexities which can confuse the person seeking support and/or 'split' the therapeutic process.

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