Why might I need counselling?
The University of Warwick recognises that counselling can be a beneficial way to support its staff members to work to the best of their ability. By offering an in-house counselling service for all staff, the University is demonstrating its commitment to staff wellbeing.
Members of staff use the Counselling Service to help them with a variety of issues. Sometimes a specific issue can be identified, for example a bereavement or relationship breakdown, which may precipitate them seeking counselling. Some people may suffer from stress, anxiety, panic or depression, which impacts on their mental or emotional well-being. Often there is a sense that 'things are not quite right'; they feel low in confidence or self-esteem, which prevents them from achieving their professional or personal potential. All are valid reasons to make use of the Counselling Service.
A counselling appointment is a chance to look in depth at your concerns, think about the cause of your difficulty, consider the feelings and emotions you may be experiencing as a result, and exploring different ways to improve your situation, by drawing on your inner strengths and resources.
Is counselling for me?
If you are interested in developing insight, self-agency and resilience in order to effect change which can facilitate your personal and emotional growth and development, then counselling is for you.
People use counselling for different reasons. Some examples include:
- To help work out why they feel low or depressed
- To understand why they behave in the ways they do so they can choose to change
- To manage their anxiety/stress better
- To work through a trauma or bereavement
- To improve their self-esteem and confidence
- To look at how they relate with others
- To explore how they could function better
When you come for counselling, the counsellor may
- Ask you why you think and feel the way you do (so you can develop your personal awareness)
- Explore possible deeper meanings for why you feel what you do, eg: anxious, depressed, stressed (so you develop insight into your issues)
- Encourage you to think about the root causes of your issues (so you can understand yourself more fully)Invite you to consider the patterns of your behaviours and ask when they started, eg in your early life
- Guide you to reflect on who you are and how you relate to yourself and others (so you can influence your potential)
- Challenge you to make some changes both on a practical level but more often on a deeper level
How can I use the Counselling Service?
Sometimes a line manager or colleague may suggest you use the Counselling Service, but you can refer yourself, you don't have to be referred by anyone else, and no one else needs to know. Simply select the service you want to use and complete the registration form.
What happens in the counselling session?
When you arrive for your appointment, you will be greeted by one of the two Counselling Service Administrators, who will invite you to take a seat in the Counselling Service's waiting room. The waiting area is used by all visitors to the Counselling Service, both students and staff; if you feel you would like a more private waiting area, please let the Administrator know (preferrably in advance when you register) and this can be arranged. Your counsellor will meet you at the designated time and show you through to the counselling room which is private and free from interruption. The appointment with your counsellor lasts 50 minutes.
How does counselling work?
Counselling can help you to focus on and understand more clearly the issues that concern you. By respecting your values, choices and lifestyle, the counsellor can work together with you towards making choices or changes that are right for you.
Counselling can enable you to help make sense of events or experiences and explore options for change by providing a specific opportunity where you will be heard and respected. Counsellors don't give practical advice and counselling is not a cure-all, but it can be useful.
There are various theoretical models that influence the way in which the counsellors might work with you. Some of the models currently used by the counsellors in the Counselling Service include: person-centred, psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural and integrative. If you have a preference to work in a particular way, you can state this on your initial registration form, although your counsellor will guide you. Email counselling is also available to staff.
When can I have my counselling sessions around work time?
The University is supportive of staff using the Counselling Service and it should be possible to negotiate time to attend your counselling appointment. However, it may be that you choose not to inform any work colleagues or your line manager of your decision to go for counselling; the service offers an evening counselling service during term time and will endeavour to be flexible to arrange on-going appointments at mutually suitable times, eg around lunch times, or mornings, etc.
Will any information go on my staff records?
No. You will be required to complete a registration form that asks for contact details and other relevant information including questions about gender, etc, for anonymous statistical monitoring purposes. Counsellors keep brief summaries of sessions but these are stored confidentially and are only available to the Counselling Service staff, or Wellbeing Support Staff in exceptional cases.
Is there a charge to use the Counselling Service?
No. The Counsellors are employed by the University and make up a comprehensive network of support for staff (and students), so no charge is made directly to the users of the service. The Counselling Service offers a professional therapeutic counselling service to all members of staff (salaried employees) of the University of Warwick. The service is available to all grades of staff and no fee is charged.
What if I am a classed as member of staff who is also a student at Warwick University (eg a PhD student who also does some teaching)?
If you could be classed as both a student AND a staff member at Warwick, we would recommend that you register for counselling as a student rather than through the staff counselling route (see the Student Counselling page for the registration form).
How can I have my say about the Counselling Service?
The Counselling Service continually evaluates what it is offers and makes improvements where possible so that the Service is meeting the needs of its users. To this end, whether you have one appointment or a longer course of counselling, at the end of your time in counselling, you will be sent an online questionnaire to complete. You are asked to consider aspects of the Counselling Service such as the logistics and the usefulness of your counselling experience. Each summer the responses are collated. Some (anonymous) responses may be selected to appear on the website of the Counselling Service. If you have cause for complaint about any element of the counselling service, we would invite you first to contact the Head of Counselling, Samantha Tarren (firstname.lastname@example.org); you may wish to go through the university complaints process: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/feedbackcomplaints/staff/. We are also subject to the BACP Professional Conduct Procedures.
Will anyone be informed that I am going to counselling?
The counsellors will not inform a third party of any details relating to your attendance at the Counselling Service. Maintaining a confidential relationship with clients is an important part of counselling. However, it can sometimes be useful for other people to know, for example, line managers can perhaps re-negotiate your work load if that is adding to your problems, or colleagues can help look out for you in the work place, but this is not always appropriate and it is entirely your decision as to whether or not you tell anyone.
There are, however, some situations in which counsellors may have to pass on personal information, which include:
- when it is believed that someone is at serious risk, or
- when required by law to disclose.
NB: Consent to disclose any information is sought from the client if at all possible.
You can ask your counsellor for more details if you have any questions on this issue.
The Counselling Service works to the Ethical Framework for Good Practice as produced by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) to ensure we manage issues such as confidentiality in a responsible way. (Further information is available at www.bacp.co.uk)
With regards to confidentiality and the Counselling Service building: the University Counselling Service is on the Westwood Campus in Westwood House. The building is also home to Occupational Health Services and the DARO calling room (Development of Alumni Relations Office). If you think this might create a conflict of interest for you (for example, you may not wish to be seen by staff from these departments), please make a note on your registration form or contact the UCS directly (telephone 02476 523761 or email email@example.com) and we will do our best to ensure your confidentiality is safeguarded. It is possible to ensure your appointment times are scheduled to coincide with when the building is not in use by DARO staff, or to make alternative arrangements regarding the waiting area.
If I have had counseling before at the UCS, will I have to tell the counsellor my issues again if I return to the service?
Sometimes coming back to counselling can be really helpful for peole, and 'telling your story' again can be therapeutic. However, sometimes, if the core issues are the same, it can be useful for you if the counsellor you see has an awareness of your concerns. If you would definitely like the counsellor to read your UCS counselling notes before you meet with them, please indicate this when you register and make your appointment so we can ensure that this happens.
If you have any question for the UCS, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the University of Warwick's Commitment to Wellbeing of staff (and students)? - Read the Statement by Gillian McGrattan, Head of HR and Director of the People Group:
The University is committed to providing an environment in which to work and study which supports the wellbeing of all staff and students. This part of the statement outlines how that ambition is achieved with respect to its staff.
For staff, the University of Warwick is committed to providing a working environment which actively promotes the positive health and wellbeing of all its employees, partners and contractors. Our employees are the University’s most valued resource and as a result their health and wellbeing is crucial to the effective running of the institution. But this is more than compliance with legal requirements ensuring a safe and healthy working environment, we will promote good workplace health and wellbeing by a range of means.
Our commitment to maintaining a healthy, active, positive workforce includes:
- The creation of a work environment that supports and promotes physical activity, that aids access to healthy choice foods, that helps employees to maintain their positive mental wellbeing while at work, that promotes sensible drinking of alcohol and supports people to quit/ reduce smoking.
- The promotion of positive wellbeing through the provision of up to date and informative materials and resources to help employees make healthy lifestyle choices.
- Promotion of all health and safety policies and practice including training of professionals in all relevant areas
- Reducing the opportunities for accidents and incidents and ensuring that any such incidents are reviewed to prevent future recurrence
- Linking, wherever relevant, to local and national campaigns and promotions, particularly those designed to tackle the specific issues in Higher
- Access to specialist Occupational Health support
- Providing easy access to disease prevention measures eg flu jabs
- Encouraging employees to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing by helping to improve knowledge and behaviour
- Providing training and guidance where appropriate to enable the support our employees need
- Consulting with employees on finding out what support and information they wish to receive, including follow up at both institutional and departmental level to feedback from the Pulse staff engagement survey.
Through central and local communication we encourage employees to put forward recommendations for change, in addition to that gleaned through official surveys. Should any employee have any queries with regards to this commitment, and its aims and responsibilities, please speak with Human Resources in the first instance
Having an active lifestyle is key to maintaining health, weight and mental wellbeing. We aim to support employees in this, through:
- Providing information and guidance on keeping active eg campus trails, campaigns run by our Sports Centre in collaboration with external bodies such as Public Health England.
- Holding promotional events for use of campus facilities
- Advertising local events and opportunities for staff to get involved with
- Encouraging staff to make active choices (using the stairs rather than the lifts, for example)
- Aiming to work with external partners, where relevant, to encourage employee participation
Healthy eating is essential for good health and can impact positively on your mental wellbeing. We aim to encourage and support a healthy balanced diet wherever we can, through:
- Encourage healthy eating in our workplace cafes and restaurants, recognising that these facilities need to meet a range of tastes and budgets
- Provide information and guidance on healthy eating, including calorific content of foods wherever possible
- Provide access to fruit to aid “5 A-Day” consumption, including within promoted “meal deals”
- Provide fresh drinking water for all staff
Giving staff access to positive lifestyle choices which encourage wellbeing eg cycle to work scheme, on-campus cycle racks, discounted flu jabs and (planned for 2017/18) an employee assistance programme.
Mental wellbeing in the workplace is important for all employees; addressing workplace mental wellbeing can embed the positive and protective factor of stimulating and worthwhile employment, reducing risk factors for mental ill health and improving general health. The University aims to promote the employment of people who have experienced mental health problems, and support them once they are at work.
Important aspects of mental health and wellbeing includes providing information and raising awareness, management skills to deal with issues around mental health and stress effectively, providing a supportive work environment, offering assistance, advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem or returning to work after a period of absence due to mental health problems.
We aim to support employees in this, by creating a workplace environment that promotes the mental wellbeing of all employees, through
- Providing employees information on and increase their awareness of mental wellbeing (eg through Mental Health at work events)
- Giving non-judgemental and proactive support to individual staff who experience mental health problems, including the provision of on-campus counselling for staff where necessary and appropriate.
- Providing opportunities for employees to look after their mental wellbeing, for example through physical activity, social events and both short and long term arrangements for flexible working. The University offers a myriad of working arrangements, both formally and informally. This should extend to flexibility which allows staff to undertake physical activity eg at lunch time.
- Setting employees realistic targets that do not require them to work unreasonable hours, and monitoring/managing long working hours where identified.
- Ensuring that all staff have clearly defined job descriptions, objectives and responsibilities and provide them with good management support, appropriate training and adequate resources to do their job.
- Managing workplace conflict effectively and ensuring that the workplace is free from bullying and harassment, discrimination and racism. Running an annual event across campus emphasising respect and respectful behaviour to others.
Support for employees experiencing mental health difficulties
- Managers are encouraged to persuade staff to consult their own GP where problems arise and to be aware of both internal and external sources of help and assistance. Additional information is provided on the Human Resources website as well as on the Wellbeing Support Services site (some services are offered to both staff and students).
- In cases of long-term sickness absence a graduated return to work is allowed, normally over a four week period, with access to advice and support from Occupational Health.
- As with any other form of illness, mental health matters are accorded strict protocols of confidentiality.
The University is aware that identifying and managing excessive workplace stress is essential for staff wellbeing. Access is provided for counselling and advice is taken on board from GPs and others for its management in individual circumstances. The University uses its Pulse survey to identify particular sources of stress and its consequences and aims to provide managers with sufficient information and training to manage this for themselves and their teams.
Role of Employees
Employees are expected to work in a respectful and collaborative manner (governed by a policy entitled Dignity at Warwick). This is designed to encourage collective wellbeing yet giving individuals the right and the opportunity to identify actions which challenge this objective, as well as the opportunity to identify ideas for improvement. Employees are expected to contribute positively to collective wellbeing whilst working at the University of Warwick.
What surprised me about going for counselling at the Counselling Service was: (taken from feedback)
"That just talking solved problems that seemed insurmountable"
"That I was understanding myself and I started to think with a different way"
"That the experience actually helped me as I'd been sceptic at first"
"How easy it was after initially talking at the start of the session"
Other Sources of help:
Speak to your HR adviser