The University Counselling Service offers short-term counselling for students and, additionally, we can help to signpost students to longer-term or specialist support resources, as appropriate.
We’re here to help.
- 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. Our Team
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
- Anna Perlinski
- 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). Feedback
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: email@example.com
- In Crisis
Our appointment-based protocol means we have very limited scope to attend to any Crisis or Emergency.
If you are in Crisis or in an Emergency, please go to the Accident and Emergency Department of your local Hospital OR dial 999 and ask for an Ambulance.
Alternatively, please contact your GP Practice and ask for an Emergency Appointment.
When your GP Practice is closed, please telephone NHS 24 on 111. NHS out-of-hours
116 123 (freephone 24 hours) 0800 838587 (freephone Mon - Thurs 6pm - 2am & Fri 6pm - Mon 6am) 01224 272829 (local number, 8pm-8am term time) 01224 590932 (local number, Mon - Thurs 9am-5pm) 08088 010302 (freephone daily 6pm-midnight)
University of Aberdeen Security (24/7) can be contacted using the SafeZone free app if you ever need Urgent Help, First Aid or if you have an Emergency while on Campus.
- Information for Students
If you would like to arrange an appointment, or cancel or rearrange an existing appointment:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: +44 (0)1224 272139
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 30-40 minute Assessment appointment 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 the Assessment appointment 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 Assessment appointment, you can specify this at the time. Sometimes this may mean that you have to wait a little longer for counselling until this counsellor has availability.
Arranging an Assessment Appointment
To arrange an Assessment appointment, please email us at email@example.com using your University email address, and provide the following information:
- Your Student ID and a UK mobile number
- Your availability and whether you have a preference for a male or female counsellor
Please note that restricting flexibility for availability and counsellor preference may delay your appointment time.
If you are unable to attend an appointment, please let us know as soon as possible, so we can offer this appointment to another student.
Duration of Counselling
We offer registered students short-term counselling.
The frequency and total number of appointments 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. Waiting List
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.
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 24 hours notice if you can and wish to cancel or change your appointment.
If you miss a session and do not contact us within 4 weeks, your details will be closed.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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 letter of support when they meet their counsellor or by emailing email@example.com
Students who have had no prior contact with the Counselling Service should not be signposted to the Counselling Service simply for letters 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Other University sources of advice and help
Consider whether any of the following might offer you a suitable way to address your issue - either as an altlernative or in addition to the Counselling Service.
- For academic issues – please go to Registry or Pastoral Study Support or Student Support Advisers
- For Halls of Residence issues – Student Resident Assistants
- For medical matters – please contact your GP
- For peer-to-peer support (in 1st year) – Students4Students(S4S)
- For tutoring issues – Personal Tutor/Regent
- For free online counselling – Kooth/Zen Zone
- For online moderated peer-to-peer support and resources – Big White Wall
- For career-related matters – Careers or Alumni Office
- For international students – International Centre or International Student Advisers
- For disability support - Disability Advisers
- For advice on academic learning support and study plans – Student Learning Service
- For pastoral support - Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Centre
- For self-help coaching leaflets – please see Self-help Leaflets
- For relaxation – try Mindfulness or Breathe or Aberdeen Sports Village
- Local GP Practices
- Feeling Good App
The Foundation for Positive Mental Health is working with the University of Aberdeen to provide free access to the Feeling Good App - an evidence based self-help programme.
All students can now access a mental skills training programme which teaches how to calm the mind and develop a positive mindset, enabling greater emotional resilience to deal more effectively with challenges of student life.
What is it?
The app contains a safe and effective programme, Positive Mental Training, that is widely used within the NHS, for increasing wellbeing and recovery from stress, worry and low mood.
It is a mind body programme derived from sports psychology, which takes you through a set of 12 physical and mental exercises. This allows you to switch to a helpful state of mind and let go of the negative emotional triggers, which underpin distress, whilst simultaneously increasing your concentration and focus.
The techniques build a resilient mind set, encapsulated by successful Olympic athletes who work on the foundation of positive motivations and memories to enable goal focused success.
- immediately helps calm the body and mind
- non-stigmatising sports background
- aids recovery from mental distress as well as developing alkl round mental wellbeing
- 12 years evidenced based development from within the NHS
- promotes deeper sleep and concentration
- different to mindfulness as it combines physical relaxation with positive outcome-focused visualisations
- supports equality - based on universal, transcultural psychological needs, audio and available to all
Get the App
Get the app! Downloading the app is free.
- visit your app store on your phone or tablet
- search on 'feeling good' and look for the logo with a blue sky and sun
- install the app free to your device. It comes with free stuff
- unlock the rest of the tracks by putting the username and password below into the login boxes at the foot of the 'download' tab. (NB this username and password are only for this app.)
- on an ipad/iphone you need to close the keypad (press done) before pressing 'submit'
- complete the questionnaire - all results are anonymous
NB your device needs to be set up to use the app store, this requires registering with google or apple.
My in-app login username = abdnuni2 My in-app password = positive
Find a place to make yourself comfortable and start by listening to track 1. You will be asked to close your eyes and relax. Make sure you're in a safe environment in case you fall asleep. Each track is 20 mins. If you can, listen at least once a day. Listen to the same track for a few days before moving onto the next track. There are 12 tracks in all but most people tell us their sleep and mood quickly become better.
For more information: listen to the welcome message on the home screen and/or watch the short video on the instructions tab.
- Big White Wall - free online mental health and wellbeing service
University of Aberdeen students going through a tough time or struggling with mental health issues can now get free online support with Big White Wall.
Big White Wall is designed to help people get support, take control and feel better. It provides 24/7 peer and professional support (with trained counsellors online at all times), plus a range of wellbeing tools to help people self-manage. This service is safe and anonymous, so no one will know you have chosen to use it unless you tell them.
If you would like to get support, simply go to Big White Wall and enter your University of Aberdeen email address.
To see more about how Big White Wall works, you can watch this short film: Big White Wall - how it works
- External Resources
Abuse Addiction - Alcohol Addiction - Drugs Addiction - Internet/Games Anger Anxiety Bereavement/Loss Bullying CBT (Online & Telephone) Resources
Counselling Resources - External
- Aberdeen Counselling Forum
- ACIS - Aberdeen Counselling & Information Service
- Counselling Directory
- Mental Health Aberdeen
- Cairns Counselling
- Hope Counselling
Crisis Depression Disability Eating Disorders Faith Family Issues General Issues Health HIV/AIDS Homelessness LGBT Mental Health Mindfulness/Meditation Panic/Phobias/OCD Post-Traumatic Stress Relationships Self Harm Sleep Social Anxiety Stress
- Online Resources
The Mix offers young people 25 years old and under, discussion forums, information resources on a wide range of issues, from sex and relationships to a Student Survival Guide plus trained advisors who can offer email support, instant chat and telephone counselling.
- Tel: 08088 084994
- Opening hours: 11.00-23.00 daily
Australian-based The Desk offer students globally a range of modules, quizzes, videos and podcasts to guide you through some really useful self-help plans, including challenging unhelpful thoughts, organising your time and mindfulness.
- Opening hours: Online
Want to know how to feel happier, more confident and worry less right now? Would you like to learn new ways of dealing with what life throws at you?
Living Life to the Full offers you enjoyable and interactive courses that will help you understand your feelings, thoughts and behaviours, and what to do about them!
- Opening hours: Online
Breathing Space is a free and confidential phoneline service for any individual who is experiencing low mood or depression, or who is unusually worried and in need of someone to talk to.
- A BSL service is also available.
- Telephone: 0800 83 85 87
- Opening hours: Mon-Thurs 6pm-2am and weekends 24hrs
Samaritans provide confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day, for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which could lead to suicide.
Aberdeen Student's Nightline is a confidential and anonymous listening and information service, run by trained students, for students.
You can talk to them about anything, big or small. They’re simply there to listen to you.
- Tel: +44 (0)1224 272829
- IM: Messaging
- Email: email@example.com
- Opening Hours: 20.00 – 08.00
Whatever you need to know about boosting your mood, coping with stress, anxiety or depression or simply improving your overall emotional wellbeing, the NHS Choices Moodzone is here to help.
It offers practical, useful information, interactive tools and videos to support you on your way to feeling better.
- Opening Hours: Online
Youth Mental Health - NHS
An information hub offering young people advice and help on mental health problems including depression, anxiety and stress.
- Opening Hours: Online
No Panic National Helpline - Supports sufferers of panic attacks, phobias and other anxiety disorders, including tranquilliser withdrawal.
- Youth Tel: 0330 606 1174 (landline rates apply)
- Opening Hours: 15.00-18.00 Monday to Friday
- Adult Tel: 0844 967 4848 (landline rates apply)
- Opening Hours: 10.00-22.00 daily
Mindfulness for Students
Mindfulness for Students - mindfulness training for students is enjoyable and creative as well as productive - helping you to stay calm, focused and better manage the pressures of student life.
- Opening Hours: Online
Students Against Depression
Students Against Depression offers comprehensive, award-winning information and resources to help you identify low mood or depression and then find a way forward, validated by health professionals alongside tips and advice from students who have experienced it all themselves.
- Opening Hours: Online
FRANK helps you find out everything you might want to know about drugs (and some stuff you don't). For friendly, confidential advice, Talk to Frank…
- Telephone: 0300 123 6600
- Live chat
- Text: 82111
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Opening Hours: Telephone (24 hours), Live chat 14.00-18.00, 7 days
b-eat is a UK-based eating disorders charity offering helplines, including a Youthline.
- Helpline (Over 18): 0345 634 1414
- Youthline (Under 18): 0345 634 7650
- Email: email@example.com
- Opening Hours: 16.00-22.00 every day
NHS 24 operates an out-of-hours phone service providing help if your GP surgery is closed and you are too ill to wait until it re-opens.
- Telephone: 111
- Opening Hours: When GP Practices are closed
BUT… if it is urgent, telephone the Emergency Services on 999, 24 hours a day.
NHS inform provides:
- information on illnesses and conditions, healthy living, tests and treatments and care, support and rights
- a self-help guide that allows symptoms to be checked against causes and conditions
- a directory of local health services including pharmacies, GP's and hospitals
- Opening Hours: Online
If you are in crisis, please:
- Make an emergency appointment to see your GP
- Telephone the Samaritans 116 123
- Visit the Accident & Emergency Department of your nearest Hospital
- Self Help Leaflets and Books
- What Happens When You See A Counsellor
- How To Use The Counselling Service For Referral
- Coping With A Major Personal Crisis
- Exam Anxiety
- Grief And Loss
- Looking After Yourself
- Overcoming Procrastination
- Self Confidence
- Settling Into University and Coping With Homesickness
- Stress Management
- Studying In The UK - International Students And Homesickness
- Time Management
- Understanding Depression
- While You Are Waiting
- Worried About Someone Else
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.
- Light Therapy
The 'Light Box' is now available within the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Centre 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 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 the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy:
Tel: +44 (0) 1224 27 2137