Frequently asked questions
Many people worry that seeking counselling is a sign of weakness or inadequacy. It can be hard to ask for help, but asking for help is the first step in addressing and resolving what’s troubling you. Here are some of the questions that may be on your mind if you’re thinking about seeing a counsellor.
What is counselling?
Counselling offers a space to explore your feelings and discover what lies behind what‘s troubling you. It’s not about giving advice and a counsellor will not judge you in any way. Rather, a counsellor works with you to help make decisions, choices and changes that are right for you.
Who are the counsellors?
The counselling service is staffed by a team of professionally trained and widely experienced counsellors. We work to the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy Code of Ethics and Practice, details of which can be obtained from the service.
Can I see a counsellor one-to-one?
We offer counselling on an individual basis and in small groups. A counselling group allows you to explore personal and academic difficulties in a confidential setting with other students. It’s a good way to learn from other students and share your experiences.
Will I have to pay?
The service is free and available to all students.
How can I see a counsellor?
The counselling service operates at our Marylebone and Harrow sites. You can request to see a counsellor by calling in person, over the telephone, or by email.
Is the counselling service confidential? Will my tutor know?
The service is confidential and your information will not be revealed to anyone without your permission. Sometimes, it might be helpful for your counsellor to liaise with a third party, for example with your tutor if your academic work is being affected. This will only happen after discussion with you and with your permission. If there appears to be a serious risk to your own or someone else’s safety, the counsellor reserves the right to break confidentiality. Your counsellor would normally speak to you first before contacting anyone else.
What if I need to see a counsellor in an emergency?
Although the counselling service operates on an appointment basis, there is a counsellor on duty daily to deal with any urgent requests. If you feel that you need to speak with someone urgently, contact the service and ask to speak to the duty counsellor.
What if I want to see a counsellor outside the university?
We can provide you with details of external counselling agencies that may be helpful. You can also find a counsellor via your GP or by contacting the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy at www.bacp.co.uk.
If I see a counsellor, what information will be kept about me?
Your counsellor will keep brief notes. All records are kept securely locked within the counselling service, not in your University student file. It’s a legal requirement for counselling notes to be kept for five years. After that time, they are destroyed by shredding. Under the Data Protection Act, clients have the right to access all their notes. If you want to see your notes, you should ask your counsellor, giving two weeks notice.
Can I get a letter for mitigating circumstances from a counsellor?
We can only provide letters supporting mitigating circumstances applications to students who are known to us. This usually means that you must have been attending counselling over a period of time.
Can a counsellor help if I am thinking of dropping out of University?
Sometimes leaving seems the right thing to do, but it’s important not to rush into a decision until you’ve thought it through. If you’re thinking about dropping out you might find it helpful to talk it over with a counsellor. It’s also helpful to see a student adviser to think through your finances and your future options.