University Counselling Service
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 09:00-13:00 and 14:00-16:30 with the exception of some public holidays and brief closure between Christmas and New Year.
Access for Disabled
A concrete ramp provides access into the University Counselling Service at 5 Dunbar Street.
Counsellors operate from their respective rooms on the first and second floors which are accessed by stairs. If you have mobility issues please let us know so we can arrange for you to meet a Counsellor in our Ground Floor Counselling Room.
We have an induction loop in the office for those hard of hearing.
- About Us
What is counselling?
Counselling offers the opportunity to explore any issues which are causing you concern or distress. These can be emotional or social, or connected to your work or studies.
Concerns can be long-standing or the result of a recent event or crisis. They may:
- Result in uncomfortable feelings such as anxiety, depression, unhappiness or fear
- Cause stress, perhaps disrupting normal eating or sleeping patterns
- Prevent full participation in University life
Counselling can create time and space to explore these issues in a confidential setting with a professional Counsellor who is not directly involved. This may provide a chance to find a new perspective on the problem and often to become more accepting of yourself in the process.
Counsellors will not tell you what to do or give you advice, though they may explore a range of support options with you which may help. They aim to empower you to make the right decisions to improve or change your current situation.
Counselling should not be regarded as an alternative to seeing your GP or Doctor, who still remains the person overall responsible for your physical and mental health. Local GP Practices
However, we are here for you and we will do what we can to help you.
How much does it cost?
The service is free of charge.
All our Counsellors are professionally trained, attend external supervision and work to the Ethical Framework of their professional body.
Occasionally, the service may also have Associate Counsellors, who, whilst less experienced, are professionally trained, externally supervised, mentored by our Counsellors and comply with the same Ethical Framework.
Head of Service
- Rick Hughes
- Ruth Bannister
- Lindsay Gardner
- Sally King
- Sha'yo Lai
- Jacquie Simpson
- Mairi Stewart
- Nicky Mann
Everything you share with your Counsellor stays within the University Counselling Service.
We do not pass any information to anyone else, including other University Departments, unless we have your permission to do so. This means we will not even confirm or deny your visit to a Counsellor, without your consent.
However, rarely, there may be exceptional circumstances when the Counsellor feels it is necessary to act without your permission, although we would seek to explain this with you first. At such times, the importance of preserving client trust and autonomy will be weighed against the importance of reducing the risk to you or to other people.
BACP Ethical Framework
All members of the University Counselling Service adhere to the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions established by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
The University Counselling Service welcomes your feedback.
If you would like to tell us about something we did well or suggest how we can improve our service, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Information for Current Students
If you would like to arrange an appointment, or cancel or rearrange an existing appointment:
Whilst there is usually someone in our office, there may be occasions when the office is closed – so to avoid disappointment, we recommend you contact us by email or telephone.
When you seek counselling from us:
We will offer you an initial 30 minute Exploratory session which allows us to hear what brings you to the service, explore with you whether counselling might help or sign-post you to other suitable sources of help or information.
Some students find an Exploratory sessions is sufficient.
If counselling may be suitable for you, your details will be added to the waiting list and our Administrator will contact you once a counselling slot becomes available.
If you wish to see the same Counsellor you met for the Exploratory session, you can specify this at the time. Sometimes this may mean that you have to wait a little longer for counselling until your Counsellor has availability.
We offer current students short-term counselling.
The frequency and total number of sessions offered is agreed between you and the Counsellor.
This can depend on a number of factors including the presenting issue, Counsellor availability and demands on the service.
Choice of Counsellor
If you would prefer to specifically see a male or female Counsellor, please specify your preference when you contact us, but please be aware that your choice may delay access, subject to a Counsellor’s availability.
Demand for counselling means you may need to wait until there is an available Counsellor.
We prioritise our waiting list in terms of urgency which means that some people who feel their situation is important but manageable may have to wait longer for counselling sessions.
Although we make every effort to offer appointments to all those requesting one as soon as we can, at times we can have a considerable waiting list.
If your situation changes and becomes more urgent while you are waiting, please get in touch and we can offer you a 'one-off' Holding appointment.
If your situation deteriorates while you are waiting or you need to speak with a Counsellor more urgently, we may be able to offer you a ‘one-off’ holding or transitional appointment. Please contact us and we can arrange this for you.
Crisis or Emergency
Our appointment-based protocol means our Counsellors have sessions booked in with clients for some time in advance. We have limited scope to attend to any crisis or emergency, although we aim to offer a few Emergency appointments each week.
We request that you attend all sessions on time as our Counsellors work on a strict appointment basis and will not be able to extend your time beyond your allotted period.
Cancelling and Missed Appointments
Please give us 48 hours notice if you wish to cancel or change your appointment.
- If you cancel 2 consecutive sessions we shall not be able to continue to offer you further counselling sessions however if you still wish to continue counselling we can re-add your details to the waiting list and you will need to wait for further counselling sessions.
- Appointments missed without informing us, will be counted as part of your allocation of sessions.
- In addition, if you miss a counselling session without notifying us and do not contact us to reschedule within 24 hours, you will forfeit your counselling sessions and will need to re-join the waiting list if you wish to continue counselling sessions.
Letters of Support
Occasionally, we are asked to write ‘letters of support’ which provide evidence that you are seeing a Counsellor about issues that are causing you difficulties.
We can only write such letters, if you are seeing a Counsellor, and only with your permission.
We cannot write a ‘letter of support’ if you have not seen a Counsellor and similarly counselling is not usually regarded as appropriate if you are only seeking a ‘letter of support’.
Letters would tend to simply confirm that you are seeing a Counsellor.
We cannot influence or determine the outcome of such letters.
As we are located in the heart of the Old Aberdeen campus, you may see your Counsellors in passing or at events. To respect your privacy, we will not go out of our way to speak to you, although we might nod, smile or say ‘Hi’, as we would with anyone. If you prefer not to have any acknowledgement, please let us know.
- Information for Staff
We provide training and consultation for members of staff at the University of Aberdeen.
Staff throughout the university already support many students who disclose emotional or personal problems to them. However, you might find that you are not able to offer the time the person seems to need.
The student may be experiencing deep or long standing problems which you feel unable to respond to or cope with.
You may feel the student might benefit from talking to someone who is not directly involved in the situation.
If this is the case you could:
- Gently introduce the idea of seeing a Counsellor and suggest they look at Counselling Service
- Give the student time to think about it
- It is easy for someone to feel coerced into coming to the Counselling Service, even if the suggestion to make an appointment has been made with the best intentions
- It is important for students to make an appointment because they want it - even if it is just to check out the Counselling Service before committing themselves to further sessions
- Encourage the student to telephone: +44(0)1224 27 2139 or email: email@example.com for an appointment
- If this feels impossible you could discuss telephoning for them with the student present as you telephone
- Discuss with the student how much information they would like you to give if you make a telephone call and make them aware that the Counselling Service Administrator may ask to speak to them to arrange an appointment
- Reassure the student that no information about them will be disclosed by the Counsellor unless they specifically request this
Good Cause Letters
The Counselling Service can provide letters of support for students for good cause who have attended or are attending the Counselling Service.
Students can request a leter of support when they meet their Counsellor or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Students who have had no prior contact with the Counselling Service should not be signposted to the Counselling Service simply for lettes of support.
Training and Consultancy
The Counselling Service frequently runs a short course for staff called 'Effective Helping'. It offers an introduction to active listening skills which might be useful in working with students or colleagues.
We can also support individual staff in their work with students by offering support or consultancy in specific situations. This is done with respect for the confidentiality of the student.
We are also willing to talk with groups of staff.
For further information, please email: email@example.com
- Self Help
- Other Resources
Self-Help Books (for clients)
We have a collection of Self-Help Books which can be borrowed by clients for up to 4 weeks.
If you would like to borrow any books, please give the details to our Office Administrator or your Counsellor so we can update our records accordingly.
Please note - The books listed and on our shelves do not always reflect the beliefs and values of University Counselling Service staff however they may still be of interest and help.
Stress and Relaxation Resources
We have a 'Light Box' available for use in the University Counselling Service for light therapy.
A Light Box is a portable box that emits a powerful diffuse light. It has been found that people suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) experience mood changes during the winter months.
When there are reduced daylight hours, they can benefit from regular exposure to the Light Box during this period.
The Light Box is available to current students and members of university staff who feel that exposure to additional light during the winter months could improve their well being.
Light therapy sessions can be booked by contacting us:
Tel: +44 (0) 1224 27 2139