Counselling Service Frequently Asked Questions

To see a counsellor, you would first come to a 'Pre-Counselling meeting' at your regular campus, either North or City. 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, e.g. 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.

Counsellors are required by their professional body (e.g. 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 it 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 to and explore one of the following options: 

* Bring counselling to a close
* Start a new counselling contract if appropriate and possible
* Arrange periodic review meetings
* Referral to an external agency, e.g. your G.P., 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 till 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.

‘Emotional Intelligence’ (relating to, but different from IQ) is understood as "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships" (Bowling & Hoffmann, 2003). The counselling sessions and the 'Certificate in Personal Development and Emotional Intelligence' we offer can help you to understand and develop these qualities.

Indeed we do have one. For more information please consult our Diversity statement.

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 Rules and Regulations webpage.

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