The Student Counselling Service offers short-term counselling provision and, additionally, can help to signpost students to longer-term or specialist support resources, as appropriate.

We’re here to help.

Make an appointment

To arrange an initial assessment appointment, please email us at 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 counsellor preference (including male or female). 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.

If you are in crisis, please see In Crisis tab, below.

New initiatives for the Spring semester 2018

  • We will offer all students who seek counselling a provisional assessment appointment lasting 30-40 minutes. A professional counsellor will sensitively explore what has brought them to counselling and the various options available which may best respond to needs.
  • At this initial meeting, students will be invited to complete an assessment form called CORE-10 (Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation). This is a tried-and-tested evaluation tool used by many University Counselling Services and the NHS.

We aim to see all students for an initial assessment as soon as possible but if a situation is more acute or urgent, please let us know and we can respond accordingly. We always try to prioritise those in greatest need.

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 Perlinski
  • 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:

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

Helplines include:

Prevent Suicide - App  
Samaritans      116 123 (freephone 24 hours)
Breathing Space     0800 83 8587 (freephone 24 hours)
Nightline     01224 272829 (local number, 8pm-8am term time, run by students for students)
Rape Crisis Grampian 01224 590932 (local number, Monday - Thursday 9am-5pm) 
Rape Crisis Scotland    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
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.

Assessment Sessions

When you seek counselling from us:

We will offer you an initial 30-40 minute Assessment 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 the Assessment session 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 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.

Duration of Counselling

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

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 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.

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 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:

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.

Local GP Practices
External Resources


Addiction - Alcohol
Addiction - Drugs
Addiction - Internet/Games
CBT (Online & Telephone) Resources

Counselling Resources - External


Eating Disorders
Family Issues

 Hope Support Services

General Issues
Mental Health
Post-Traumatic Stress
Self Harm
Social Anxiety
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

Online Resources

The Mix

the mixThe 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.

The Desk

the deskAustralian-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

Living Life

LLTTFWant 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

breathing spaceBreathing 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

samaritansThe Samaritans

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.        


nightlineAberdeen 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. 


moodzoneWhatever 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 healthYouth 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

no panicNo 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 studentsMindfulness 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 depressionStudents 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


frankFRANK 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…


BEATb-eat is a UK-based eating disorders charity offering helplines, including a Youthline.                      

NHS 24

111NHS 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

NHS inform provides:

  • NHS Informinformation 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



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