University Counselling Service 2020/21
Counselling is a ‘talking therapy’ which gives you the opportunity to explore issues which are causing you concern or distress.
The University Counselling Service is operating ‘virtually’ for students residing in the UK. Staff are eligible to use the service until the end of the current pandemic restrictions however staff can also continue to access the University Employee Assistance Programme – details found in the SUPPORT SERVICES section of Staffnet or by clicking here
For both students and members of staff, please note that regrettably we cannot offer counselling if you are residing beyond the legal jurisdiction of the UK. This is because the vast majority of countries around the world have different rules and regulations regarding licensing, insurance, training and qualifications of counsellors and therapists.
If you are living outwith the UK, we can still respond to any queries you have but on the basis that this is information-based and not counselling, guidance, advice or a therapeutic response. Also, we can help to identify support options for you in your country. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For those residing in the UK, the therapeutic support we can offer you will be ‘virtual’ on Microsoft Teams. To manage demand, counselling will be 'One-at-a Time', meaning that we aim to offer you one appointment at the time of need, rather than a block of future appointments.
When you first contact us for an appointment from your university email account, please provide the following information;
- Confirm that you are currently living in the UK
- Your Student or Staff ID number
- A UK landline or UK mobile telephone number
- Your availability within the next week
In our response to you;
We will send you a Remote-Virtual Counselling Agreement[pdf] which we will ask you to read and complete. The agreement explains how we operate, mutual roles and responsibilities and mutual expectations. Once you have completed and returned this to us at email@example.com we will offer you an appointment.
Please bear with us as we seek to continue to provide an effective counselling service for all who need it and please continue to liaise with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We aim to offer a counselling appointment within 2-3 working days. We do not have resources to offer an immediate or emergency response but if you are in Crisis, please find resources here or in the IN CRISIS drop-down box below.
Our counselling provision will be between 9am-1pm and 2pm-4pm during week days.
For further information on how to make an appointment and to understand how ‘One-At-A-Time Focused-Counselling’ works, please see the Information for Students section, below.
Please also check out the extensive range of specialist or online resources as well as our suite of self-help leaflets, below.
We're here to help.
Please contact us by emailing email@example.com
What is the Counselling Service?
- Information for Students
What is counselling?
Counselling is a talking therapy which gives you the opportunity to explore issues which are causing you concern or distress. We can give you the space to find a new perspective on a problem or think about options for change. We won’t tell you what to do but we will listen to you and help you find a way forward.
What happens BEFORE my counselling appointment?
When you first make contact with us in each academic year, we will email you our Remote Counselling Agreement. This agreement explains how we operate, our mutual roles and responsibilities and mutual expectations. It also captures your key contact information and allows you to understand the terms under which we offer our service, including confidentiality. Once you have completed and returned this to us at firstname.lastname@example.org we will offer you an appointment.
Some 70% of students find a single appointment is all they need to help them move forward and find better ways of managing their situation. But you are welcome to return for future appointments. If there has been a gap of at least 4 weeks between appointments, we appreciate that much might have changed. Therefore, we will invite you to complete a short 6 question Counselling Preparation Form. This is optional and whether you complete this or not, we will still offer you an appointment. However, completing this form can help you to prepare for your session and potentially get the most out of your appointment.
What happens DURING my counselling appointment?
We offer focused counselling which means we focus on the most significant issue for you at the time. We provide what’s called one-at-a-time focused counselling, meaning we offer you one appointment at a time, then encourage you to reflect on this, after which you can make further appointments as necessary. About 70% of students find a single appointment is all they need to help them move in the right direction.
What happens AFTER my counselling appointment?
We encourage you to digest and reflect on what emerges from your counselling session. This may include taking some action regarding your situation (including onward referral to specialist resources, as appropriate) and better managing your issue by putting into practice, the ideas, techniques or action plans discussed in counselling.
How to make an appointment
The best way to make an appointment is by emailing email@example.com from your University email address. .
Please provide the following information (preferably by email), to help us help you;
- Your first name and last name
- Your Student ID number
- Your availability over the next 5 working days
- Whether you have a preference of male or female counsellor or a particular counsellor
We will respond to your email as soon as possible but this may not be immediately. We are closed over the weekend.
When we respond to your request, we will offer you an appointment date and time and the name of the proposed counsellor. We will ask you to confirm this appointment date and time within the given time-limit specified in our email in order to complete the appointment booking process. Please check your emails regularly because if you have not replied by the reply deadline, we will offer your appointment to someone else.
In our email to you we will also attach;
The 6 short questions in the Counselling Preparation Form can help you get the most out of your appointment. This is not mandatory but, we do find this helps where and if you can complete this. Please either email this back to us before your appointment or you can print out your answers and bring it with you.
Please note: The Counselling Service operates with fixed appointments throughout the day booked in advance. We would therefore discourage you from visiting us to seek counselling there-and-then as we may not have anyone available to see you. If you are in crisis please check out the In Crisis section below.
How many appointments are available?
We offer you one appointment at a time, which may be all you need. We encourage you to digest and reflect after your session but if you would like a further appointment, please get in touch with us, preferably by email, and we can arrange a further session.
Who are the counsellors?
We are a team of professionally trained and qualified counsellors who abide by the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions from our professional body, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
How long does an appointment last?
Each appointment lasts up to 50 minutes and has strict start and end points. If you arrive late, we will not be able to give you more than your allocated time slot. We offer appointments Monday to Friday from 09.00 to 16.00 throughout the year.
Can I choose who I see?
You will normally be offered an appointment with the next available counsellor. It is normal that sometimes you may not click or gel with a particular counsellor. If you want to meet a different counsellor, that’s ok. Please let us know when you contact us if you would like to see a specific counsellor, though you may need to wait longer depending on their availability.
Female or male counsellor options
Please let us know if you would prefer to see a female or a male counsellor.
Cancellation and 'No Show' Policy
Please give us at least 24 hours’ notice if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment so we can offer this to someone else and reduce our waiting times. If you don’t cancel your appointment and do not attend, you will need to contact us to re-schedule.
The work with your counsellor is confidential. Your attendance at counselling will not show up in your academic records or your medical records with your GP. We do not share information with anyone unless we have your permission to do so.
Privacy You can read our privacy notice here Exceptions to confidentiality
All counsellors are required by their professional body to review their clinical work with an appropriately qualified external supervisor to ensure you are given the best possible service. You can read the Ethical Framework to which we subscribe at www.bacp.co.uk
If your counsellor believes you pose a significant risk of harm to yourself or others we will take action to minimise the risk. The same may apply to criminal intent. We will always try to talk with you about this first but your counsellor may be duty bound by their Ethical Framework to inform your GP and/or other professionals, if this situation arises, whether you give consent or not.
We are sometimes required by courts of law, the police or clients themselves to provide information. This may include requests for client notes and files. We would try to involve you in any decisions and act in accordance with your wishes. Without client consent, we only release information in these circumstances if required to do so by a court of law. This applies even after you have left University.
- **New** Workshops for Students
Anxiety Workshops via MS Teams (audio-visual)
- Do you feel anxious or spend too much time worrying?
- Do you experience unpleasant physical symptoms like breathlessness, heart-racing and butterflies in your stomach?
- Do you find it difficult to focus and concentrate, and avoid certain situations or engage in other anxiety-driven behaviour?
- Have you found that since COVID-19 you are experiencing anxiety for the first-time or your anxiety has become worse?
If you answer 'yes' to all or some of these questions this workshop may help you.
- Gain a better understanding of anxiety
- Learn what is going on in your body physiologically when you experience anxiety
- Share your experience of anxiety and the impact on you
- Learn from each-other how to manage anxiety better
The facilitators, Namrata and Rhona, will introduce the workshop and clarify the confidentiality boundaries, including the importance of mutual respect and trust.
The workshop is not counselling or therapeutic group-work, but a mix of psycho-education and experiential sharing. The facilitators will also share practical anxiety-management tools and strategies.
Dates for next workshops
18 November 2020 (10:00-11:30) for Undergraduates
25 November 2020 (10:00-11:30) for Postgraduates
2 December 2020 (10:00-11:30) for Undergraduates
Workshop places limited to 8 people per workshop and will be based on first-come first-served.
To book a place or if you have any more questions please contact the Counselling Service at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Anxiety Workshop’ in the email subject-heading.
- In Crisis
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
- CAM Crisis Messenger text service provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and need support, you can text CAM to 85258
- HopeLine UK Tel: 0800 068 4141 or Text: 07786209697 or Email: email@example.com (10am - 10pm weekdays; 2pm - 10pm weekends; 2pm - 10pm bank holidays)
- Breathing Space Tel: 0800 838587 (freephone Mon - Thurs 6pm - 2am & Fri 6pm - Mon 6am) Breathing Space webchat pilot is open Mon - Fri 6pm to 10pm
- Nightline Tel: 01224 272829 (local number, 8pm - 8am term time)
- Rape Crisis Grampian Tel: 01224 590932 (local number, Mon - Thurs 9am - 5pm)
- Rape Crisis Scotland Tel: 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.
- About Us
All our counsellors are professionally trained, attend external supervision and work to the Ethical Framework of their professional body.
Head of Service: Rick
Counsellors: Ania P; Anna S; Jacquie; Miranda (term-time); Namrata (term-time); Rhona (term-time); Sally; Sha'yo
Office Administator: Nicky
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.
How much does it cost?
The service is free of charge.
Everything you talk about with your counsellor stays within the Student 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, or the Counselling Service, feels it is necessary to act without your permission, although we would seek to explain this with you first, if this was feasible or appropriate. 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.
This explains how the Student Counselling Service collects and uses personal information. PDF format
Who we are
The Student Counselling Service is part of the University of Aberdeen Student Support Services.
The organisation responsible for your personal information in terms of data protection legislation is the University of Aberdeen.
Information we collect
At first contact
- Your name, Student ID, University email address and your UK-based mobile phone number. This allows us to contact you with, and allows us to keep track of, appointment details.
At your counselling appointments
- Your personal details: your student status, campus location, school, academic level, year of course, nationality, gender, year of birth.
- Information to facilitate the therapeutic work, which may include, reasons you contacted the Student Counselling Service, presenting issue, relevant personal and family background, past/present coping, relevant medical history, GP details, social support, solution opportunities and therapeutic aim. This information may or may not be recorded, but will allow the Counsellor to frame the counselling appointment and consider action plans and/or referral options.
- Your signed consent for the Student Counselling Service to handle your personal information. Your signature may be used as verification for any future request for information from the Student Counselling Service.
- Basic case notes to summarise what you have talked about in your appointment. This will summarise key facts to help the counsellors to remember what you discussed and to record any risk concerns. This does not provide evidence of fact, rather it represents a brief summary of what you talk about and discuss with the counsellor.
- Your attendance records and e-mails or potential telephone communications.
Information we receive from external organisations
- We may receive referral letters, psychological reports, requests for information and concerns about your mental wellbeing from external organisations, including the NHS, Police, Social Services, other statutory services, voluntary sector, and individuals within the community.
Why we collect this information
The Student Counselling Service collects and uses your personal information to provide and operate a counselling service.
Our legal basis for processing your personal information is that counselling is a task carried out in the public interest by the University. We also process your personal information on the legal basis of your consent, particularly for the information you volunteer and with your permission to share information.
Disclosing your information
The Student Counselling Servcie does not routinely share your personal information with any third parties without your consent.
With your consent, we will share your personal information with other support services, such as the University's Student Advice & Support Office, the Mental Health Adviser, your GP or other healthcare providers. At your request, we will also provide letters that evidence your attendance at counselling.
We may disclose information without your consent in exceptional circumstances, such as where immediate action is required for significant welfare concerns. In those cases, we will share personal information with emergency services and other support services. We will also share your personal information when required to do so by law.
Counsellors are bound by the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions from the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) July 2018.
How long your information is kept
Your personal information is destroyed securely 7 years after your last contact with the Student Counselling Service, and in accordance with the University retention policy.
You have rights to obtain a copy of your personal information, and to ask us to correct inaccurate or incomplete personal information.
Under certain conditions, you also have rights to ask us to restrict the way we use your personal information, to object to the way we use your personal information, to erase your personal information or to provide you with a portable electronic copy of personal information.
If you have any questions about how UCS handles your personal information, or your rights under privacy laws, you can contact us in the following ways:
Head of Service
Student Counselling Service
University of Aberdeen
Telephone: 01224 272139
Data Protection Officer
University of Aberdeen
Telephone: 01224 272596
If you are dissatisfied with the way your personal information has been handled, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner’s Office can be contacted via their website at www.ico.org.uk/concerns/
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 Student 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
- The University of Aberdeen Student Helpline
We have joined forces with an independent organisation called Care first, to provide free-of-charge immediate emotional support as well as information and advice on a range of ‘life’ issues.
If you are experiencing a difficult personal issue or are feeling stressed, anxious or low, you can speak directly to a counsellor at any time by phone or via Instant Messaging. No appointment necessary.
The team of expert Information Advisors, trained by Citizens Advice, can provide comprehensive answers and assistance on a wide range of issues which affect daily life. This can range from understanding your rights with Landlords, through to debt issues and consumer advice.
The Helpline is available when the University support services are closed. This means you can contact the Helpline:
- from 5pm to 9am Monday to Friday
- 24 hours a day during weekends
24 hours a day during bank holidays and UoA closure period
- Counselling Service Feedback Infographic
- Letters of Support Requests from Students
In some instances we can write a ‘letter of support’ for students who may be experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties where these might be adversely affecting their studies.
Who should I speak to about my difficulties?
The Student Counselling Service always encourages you to get in touch with the appropriate Academic personnel as soon as difficulties are impacting on your studies; this may include Personal Tutors, Course Coordinators, Programme Coordinators, School Administrators. Making contact early allows for more potential flexibility and options regarding how best to resolve the situation.
What can the Student Counselling Service write in a letter and what is not possible?
We can verify the dates when you attended counselling and, if you are happy to do so, include the main presenting issue that you brought to counselling. But you are under no obligation to verify the nature or purpose of counselling – that is your choice.
We cannot make or confirm any medical diagnosis, which can only come from your GP, Doctor or other medical healthcare professional. As counselling is subjective, and based on what you discuss with your Counsellor, we cannot provide evidence of what you have or have not experienced. We can only refer to what you have told us.
Do I need to see a Counsellor?
We cannot provide a letter of support if you are not known to the Student Counseling Service. Counselling is rarely appropriate if you are only seeking a ‘letter’. However, students often find counselling can help to explore options and coping resources. The fact that you are seeing a Counsellor does not necessarily mean your circumstances are unusually distressing or extreme.
How long does a letter take to write?
We aim to draft this for you within a week. However, at peak times it may take longer.
How do I receive my letter?
We will email you a draft copy for your approval. Once you have confirmed approval, we will email you a signed PDF copy. You may wish to upload the letter to ‘My Aberdeen’, as appropriate. For security reasons, we only email letters to your University email address.
Who will read the letter?
We email you the signed PDF copy so that you can choose who you want to receive the letter. Once we have sent you the PDF signed copy, the onus for distributing the letter rests with you. The Student Counselling Service is not responsible for who reads the letter after we have sent it to you or any consequences of so doing.
- Self-Help Guides
There are a number of self-help guides we have produced. You can view these here.
NHS Grampian also have a selection of self-help leaflets which you can view here.
- Self-Help Book Loans (We apologise that this resource is presently unavailable)
Update March 2020: We apologise that this resource is unavailable.
We stock a library of books which relate to the many issues, challenges and problems which bring people to counselling. These include books which offer self-help, information or education.
Our booklist clusters books by category from ABUSE, ANXIETY and DEPRESSION, through to TRANSITIONS and everything in between.
Up to 2 books can be borrowed for a deposit of £5 per book for 4 weeks. Please contact the Counselling Service office to check availability because in many cases we only have one copy of each book listed. However, if a book you want to borrow is out on loan, you can check the University Library Collections or contact them directly as they may be able to help.
You don’t have to be seeing a counsellor to borrow a book. In some cases, borrowers find this can be a helpful alternative to counselling. But it doesn’t prevent you seeing a counsellor either.
Please note - The books listed do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and values of the University, the Counselling Service or staff however they may still be of interest and help and are provided in good faith.
- Counselling Service - Our Toolkit
We have produced some 2-minute videos which provide some ways to cope with life and life events.
- 20 Ways to Improve Your Daily Wellbeing
- Tips for developing resilience
To watch the videos please click below.
- 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 alternative 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 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
- 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.
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: email@example.com
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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
- 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