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.

The University of Aberdeen Counselling Service offers a short-term counselling provision, meaning we provide a limited number of appointments per student, and can help to signpost and refer students for longer-term, or specialist, support resources if necessary.

For the Academic Year 2017-2018, we have introduced a series of new initiatives -

  • If you are seeking counselling, we will email you a confidential Pre-Counselling Questionnaire (PCQ) to complete which helps us focus on immediate needs and prioritise counselling availability.
  • To help us improve our Assessment of Counselling Needs, when meeting with a Counsellor for the first time, we will ask you to complete an assessment form called CORE (Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation) which is a tried-and-tested evaluation tool used by many University Counselling Services and the NHS.

Our current waiting time is 2-4 weeks depending on availability .  In some instances, the wait may be shorter or longer due to a number of factors.

If you are unable to attend an appointment, please let us know as soon as possible. We’re here to help.

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.
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 Perlinska
  • Jacquie Simpson
  • Mairi Stewart

Office Administrator

  • 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:

Information for Current Students
Making Contact

If you would like to arrange an appointment, or cancel or rearrange an existing appointment:

Email: 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.

Counselling Sessions

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.
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.

Whilst you are waiting, you may find these external resources helpful or our self-help leaflets

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.

If you feel you are experiencing a crisis or emergency, please contact your GP Practice and ask for an emergency appointment or emergency resources

Keeping Appointments

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.

  • Appointments missed without informing us, will be counted as part of your allocation of sessions.
  • 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.

In Passing

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.

Signposting Students

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: 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

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:

Self 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