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University Counselling Service

Student Counselling

Across the university, we're embarking upon a programme of change aimed at improving our support for student mental health and wellbeing. As part of this, a number of changes will be introduced to the University Counselling Service from Michaelmas Term 2022. Together, these changes aim to: 

  • Enable you to access counselling more quickly than currently. 
  • Ensure that you can access a range of counsellors and therapy approaches to best meet your needs. 
  • Increase parity between Colleges in access to University counselling services.

What will be changing?

Two key changes are planned from Michaelmas Term 2022: 

1. Implementing One at a Time Therapy

To help reduce waiting times significantly, we are introducing a model known as ‘One at a Time Therapy’. In this model, the counsellor aims to help the client in one session, knowing that more help is available. Therapy takes place one session at a time, and one session may be all that is needed. The first session offered is longer than usual (up to 75 minutes), to enable both initial assessment as well as time to help the client in the same session. At the end of each session, the client is invited to reflect on and digest what they learned in the session, act on what they learned and see what happens before deciding whether to seek another session. If they then choose to seek another session, this is then automatically provided. 

One at a Time Therapy is based on the principle of offering help at the point of need rather than at the point of availability. It provides a much more flexible service, and the cap on the number of sessions students can access is removed. In practice, some students will access more sessions of therapy than have previously been available, while other students will choose to access fewer. This model has been implemented successfully at a range of universities and has enabled universities to reduce waiting times from several weeks to a few days.

From Michaelmas Term 2022, One at a Time Therapy will be offered to all students who access counselling. We are hopeful that waiting times will be considerably reduced compared to current practice. We will be aiming to offer all students an initial appointment within 10 working days. 

2. Discontinuation of the College-Based Counselling scheme

11 Colleges previously took part in a scheme known as College Based Counselling (CBC). Students at those Colleges had the option of seeing a UCS counsellor within their College, as well as the option to see a counsellor at the Student Services Centre, or online. Participating colleges paid an additional fee for this service. 

Students will be able to continue accessing counselling online or in person at the Student Services Centre. This change is intended to enable a reduction in waiting times to access counselling for students at all Colleges, by reducing the impact of parallel waiting lists.

The impact of these changes will be closely monitored and evaluated during the 2022-23 academic year. We will monitor waiting times, including waiting times for students wishing to access BME counsellors. We will actively seek feedback during the year from students and staff on how well the service is meeting their needs.

Will I be able to see the same counsellor?

You can choose to see the same counsellor for more sessions if you choose or can choose to switch to a different counsellor. 

If you previously used College Based Counselling, you can continue to see the same counsellor until your course of therapy concludes. After that, you will be allocated to the next available counsellor (in accordance with your particular needs), but we will always try to accommodate requests from students to see particular counsellors where possible. 

Are there any changes to the types of therapy on offer?

One at a Time Therapy can be practised by counsellors from any therapeutic orientation.

This model also enables you to access any counsellor in the UCS service, and to change counsellors more easily if you would like to. This should enable students to access a range of counsellors and therapy approaches that best meet their needs. 

How are you addressing the need for BME students to see BME counsellors?

The withdrawal of College-Based counselling services means that BME counsellors previously based in Colleges will now be centrally placed. This positive change offers two additional days of BME counselling each week, which in turn increases accessibility and inclusivity for BME students across the collegiate university. 

Will the number of therapy sessions I can access change?

Via the new model, there is more flexibility in the number of sessions you can access. Some students will choose to access more sessions than would have been possible previously, while other students may choose to access fewer sessions. After four sessions, we will review whether longer term support or treatment is required, but the previous cap of four sessions of counselling will be removed. 

Will I still be able to see a counsellor in person?

You have the option to see a counsellor in person at the Student Services Centre or online, whichever you prefer. 

What will happen to the counsellor that was based in my College?

Every counsellor will be integrated into the central UCS service. No counsellor will lose their job or have their hours reduced as a result of this change. UCS are also looking to expand the number of counsellors available. 

How will College staff interact with the service?

College Based Counselling enabled close links between College teams and the UCS at those Colleges which participated in the scheme. We are implementing a range of changes which will support improved working relationships between central services and Colleges, which include: 

  • A named link Mental Health Advisor for each College. 
  • Facilitating reflective practice groups, training and workshops for College staff.