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University Counselling Service

Student Counselling

Studying at Cambridge


Information for students thinking about counselling

Do I need to see a counsellor?

Many people sort out problems by talking to friends, family or staff in their College or Department. For others it is a matter of looking up information about things that concern them, and we have a large section of self-help information on this website - follow the Self Help link here or on the left. But there are times when this isn't enough and it makes sense to come to the Counselling Service.

Who is the Service for?

The Service is free and available to all undergraduate students in residence and graduate students on the register, including students of the Theological Colleges. Students who are intermitting from their studies may be referred to their GPs or offered a limited service with a view to referral.

Staff of the Colleges may be seen once for assessment and onward referral. More information is available from this link.

Individual and Group Counselling

The Service primarily offers brief counselling, with the majority of students seen for six sessions or fewer. As well as individual counselling, we provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and access to guided self-help, where this is appropriate. Brief counselling and CBT both involve an active, collaborative process, with ongoing sessions or follow-ups scheduled at weekly, fortnightly or longer intervals. This therapeutic approach can be very effective for help with a wide range of personal, developmental and academic-related problems.

In some cases we can offer some longer-term support though this is often in a counselling group.

The Service also offers a variety of topic-specific workshops throughout the year, as well as short-term and longer-term CBT and counselling groups.

To register your interest in attending a group or workshop, please complete the group or workshop registration form, which can be found on clicking the following link: Complete Groups or Workshop Registration Form online.

Once completed and submitted, we will then send an acknowledgement email with further information about this.

More information is available from this link. Some of these are specifically designed for undergraduate or graduate students.

College-Based Counselling

College-Based Counselling is provided in colleges taking part in this scheme. The College-Based counsellor is part of the wider University Counselling Service.  To see if your College is currently taking part in this scheme and for further information please click here.

To make an appointment see below.  College-Based Counselling will be resuming in Michaelmas 2019, please apply now for appointments available from October 2019.

Making an appointment

To arrange a counselling assessment appointment at UCS or for a College-Based Counselling College (see above), please complete the 'Student Pre-Counselling Form' on our secure website. The form is intended to be thought-provoking, but you do not need to give long answers; you can also put "I would prefer to talk about this in person" if it is difficult to write about, though the information you give us helps us to arrange an appointment with an appropriate counsellor.  It can be submitted securely to the Counselling Service online; you will need your Raven password to use this facility. To access this route, please click on the link below:

Please be aware that the online form requires completion within a 3hr time frame for security, after which it automatically shuts down (you may want to save your data in case the session is close to expiring).  We also recommend, that you do not send the form from a mobile phone.

Please complete the pre-counselling form from September 2019 for appointments in Michaelmas term.

If you are returning before the beginning of term, please provide the date you will be available for appointments.   

If you prefer to download a Word version of the 'Pre-Counselling Form' and complete this by hand, please click on the following link:

Once completed, you can either bring the form to the University Counselling Service, Student Services Centre, Bene't Street, CB2 3PT or post it via the internal mail (UMS) marked for ‘Counselling Service Reception’. In case of technical difficulties, the form is also available as an email attachment or in hard copy from the Service, contact:

The information you give will remain confidential within the Counselling Service, and helps us to place you with an appropriate counsellor.

Receiving an appointment offer for counselling

After receiving your form, we will send you an email acknowledgement. In most cases, an appointment will be offered by email and you will be asked to confirm within a stated time period.

During peak times, your details may be placed on the waiting list until a suitable appointment becomes available. For more information about waiting times and appointment offers, please see our FAQs page

If you are unable to attend a first appointment, please let us know as early as possible. We will normally make up to two first appointment offers, based on the availability shown in your timetable. We do our best to accommodate personal and academic commitments, but the more flexible you can be in terms of availability, the more likely you are to be seen promptly.

Liaison with Academic Departments or Colleges

If your work is being affected by personal problems it may be helpful for your counsellor to liaise with your Tutor, Director of Studies or other person within the University. Because the Service is confidential, we would need your consent to do so - let your counsellor know if you would find this helpful.

Liaison with GPs and Mental Health Services

All students should register with a Cambridge doctor and it can be helpful to inform your GP that you are seeing a counsellor at the UCS. We can also arrange mental health assessments within the Counselling Service either via our Mental Health Advisor (see below) or through a referral to a Consultant Psychiatrist, who attends the Service one day a week in term time. Your counsellor would discuss this with you if this seems appropriate.

Mental Health Advisors

The Mental Health Advisors working in the Counselling Service provides support and guidance to students who are in crisis or who are experiencing moderate to severe mental health difficulties.  They also offer advice to College and University staff about the management of student mental health issues.  

 The MHAs offer:

  • Mental Health assessments and plan of appropriate support
  • Ongoing case work
  • Crisis intervention 
  • Suicide risk assessment
  • Liaison with College staff and academic departments
  • Liaison with GPs and Mental Health Services
  • Fitness to study assessments and fitness to return to study assessments.

For more information, please see the pages on the Mental Health Advisors.