New free counselling service to bridge gap in provision and help to train new counsellors

A new centre will provide additional free counselling services for people in the north-east and offer new opportunities for counsellors in training to undertake practical assessment.

Developed by the University of Aberdeen, The Bounds, will open later this month and will support existing community services at a time when the need for counselling support has never been greater.

Initially the Centre will operate online but will move to an in-person facility, based in the Humanities Annexe in College Bounds, on the edge of the Old Aberdeen campus, when Covid restrictions allow.

Run by staff from the University’s School of Education’s person-centred counselling programme, it will provide a free service to the local community with appointments available through GPs or self-referral.

It will be supported by student counsellors, providing placement opportunities for assessment for MSc students as part of their degree programme, and will also enable the University to build a research foundation for the counselling discipline.

University of Aberdeen Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor George Boyne, says the innovative centre will ‘provide a direct link between learning and support, and a dynamic conversation between academia and the local community’.

"I'm delighted we have launched a counselling research centre which will allow us to strengthen our links with the local community and offer an important free service to residents across the north-east of Scotland,” he added.

"A significant amount of work has gone into creating The Bounds which, as well as providing counselling, will help produce high quality research that will add to our understanding of mental health, and enhance the counselling experience. It will also provide high quality placements for our growing numbers of Masters students studying to be Counsellors as part of their registration requirements.

"The centre embodies the University's 1495 foundational purpose to be open to all and dedicated to the pursuit of truth in the service of others, and the pressures of the pandemic on mental health mean that there is an especially urgent need for its work."

The Centre aims to take the pressure off existing external agencies and to make it easier for students to find the placements they need to complete a minimum 100 hours of practical training on the University’s two-year MSC programme before they can qualify.

Anne Smith, a counsellor who leads on the masters programme said: “The counselling and research centre is a long-held dream for counselling programme staff. And, at the present time, it feels so important to be launching a service that enhances the wellbeing of people in our community as well as promoting the practice of respectful ways of relating to others, self and the world around us.

“We aim to build upon the tradition of the person-centred approach by expanding our evidence-based practice through ethical and quality research. We will strive to create an environment that adheres to the highest standards concerning inclusivity, accessibility and diversity, free from discrimination and harassment and where everyone is treated with dignity, courtesy and respect.”

Dr David Smith, Head of the University’s School of Education, added: “The counselling and research centre is launching at such an important time when people are under extra-ordinary pressure and wellbeing has suffered. I am proud of colleagues in Counselling for all that they have achieved in launching this important initiative which further strengthens Aberdeen’s key role in educating future counsellors.”

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