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Frequently Asked Questions

1 What is Counselling?

An overview Counselling offers an opportunity to consider issues that concern you, in confidence. It is a therapeutic approach that seeks to help you to explore and understand difficulties you may be having. Counselling aims to help individuals take responsibility for their own decisions, become more aware of their personal resources, more skilled at coping with difficulties and thus more self reliant. Counselling can help you develop insight, self-agency and resilience in order to effect change.

2 What is the purpose and aim of the Counselling Service?

The service provides an opportunity for all students and staff at any level and at any time of study at the University of Warwick, to access professional therapeutic counselling so that they may better develop and fulfil their personal, academic and professional potential.

3 What sort of counselling is available at the Counselling Service?

The Counselling Service offers individual face-to face counselling, email counselling, group therapy, issue- specific workshops and a range of self-help resources and self help information. It is important to select what you think will work for you. Read the outlines of each service for more guidance on how to choose your method of counselling.

4 Why might I need counselling?

Students and staff use the Counselling Service for a range of reasons. Often they bring issues that friends, family or tutors/colleagues are unable to help with and when thinking/talking with someone outside their immediate network may be useful. It can be difficult to define the issues people bring to counselling - broad 'headings' include: self-esteem problems; depression; general anxiety; relationship difficulties; problems around eating; unhealthy coping mechanisms; anxiety and stress around personal or academic issues; loss and so on. Generally, people who feel that 'things are not right and could be better' can benefit from counselling.

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.

5 Is counselling for me?

If you are a student (registered and enrolled with the University of Warwick or a member of staff directly employed by the University of Warwick, then you are eligible to consider using the Counselling Service.

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 may be 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
6 What happens when I attend a face-to-face counselling session?

You will be greeted the Administrator on reception who will show you to the Counselling Service Waiting Room. Your counsellor will meet you at the arranged time and show you through to the counselling room which is private and free from interruption. The appointment with your counsellor lasts 50 minutes.

7 What about follow-on appointments, how are they scheduled?

If you and your counsellor decide that a follow on appointment may be helpful, you can negotiate together an appointment time for when you are both available - it may not be the same time/day as your initial appointment, however, you will see the same counsellor. NB If you return for a follow-on appointment, there is no need to report to reception - please make your way to the Waiting Room where your counsellor will meet you at the arranged time.

8 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 students (and staff) under Wellbeing Support Services, so no charge is made directly to the users of the service.

9 What if I'm a bit anxious/reluctant/scared about coming to counselling?

For some people, coming to counselling for the first time can feel a bit daunting. However, the Counselling Service Administrator will greet you warmly, and will be very welcoming and friendly; each of the counsellors are experienced at being with people who may feel anxious and they will endeavour to put you at your ease. You may find it helpful to watch the short film clip to acquaint yourself with the Service. Whilst counselling is very much about what you want to get out of it, the counsellor will guide you with specific questions to ascertain what may be going on for you that made you decide to come for counselling. There is no right way to use counselling, but to get the most out of your counselling experience, you may find it helpful to read the preparing for counselling information.

10 How does counselling work?

Counselling can enable you to make sense of events or experiences and explore options for change by providing a specific opportunity where you will be listened to carefully and respected. Working with a counsellor differs from, for example, seeing a GP or other expert, who you can expect to advise, instruct or direct you. In counselling, time is spent helping you to understand how you experience life. Through reflecting, clarifying, examining and exploring, you can gain a clearer awareness of who you are and what you do (your patterns of behaviour); if you have a clearer understanding of yourself and your patterns, you can live a more choiceful, realistic and satisfying life, taking responsibility for your feelings and behaviour. Counselling helps raise your awareness to patterns, themes and feelings that recur from your early days that may be impacting on your present. 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 you feel are right for you.

There are various theoretical models that influence the way in which counsellors might work with you. Some of the models used by the counsellors in the Counselling Service include: person-centred, psychodynamic, CBT and integrative. If you have a preference to work in a particular way, you can state this on your initial registration form, but your counsellor can guide you with this.

11 Does the service provide CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)? If so, who is appropriate for this model?
The Counselling Service does provide CBT. This is a structured form of therapy that focuses on a specific issue. Common issues for which CBT works effectively are anxiety-based issues such as: moderate to severe social anxiety, OCD, panic disorder, health anxiety, and body dysmorphia. Often these conditions lead to ways of coping, such as avoidance, that maintain unhelpful thinking patterns. CBT is appropriate for people who have had a chronic problem with these issues and who have a strong motivation to work collaboratively for change and improved functioning. If you state this as a preference on your registration form, you will be sent an appointment for an initial assessment with one our CBT-trained counsellors who can work with you to determine whether CBT is suitable.
12 Can I request a specific counsellor?

When you make your initial enquiry, you can note your preferences, which we will endeavour to accommodate. Please note, students from all backgrounds access counselling at the Counselling Service. For example through 2017-18, approximately 35% of the students who registered were BME students and 31% were students who came from outside the UK. We endeavour to ensure our staff group is diverse and all staff are trained and experienced in working with issues of culture and difference, including ethnicity. Even if we are from a different background to you, we are happy to discuss any issues of oppression, or the impact that may have on the therapeutic relationship.

13 Is there a limited number of counselling sessions available to me?

No, not necessarily, however we (Counselling Service) do have to use our resources wisely to make sure that everyone who registers for counselling can see a counsellor and that they don't have to wait too long. We have a 'turnaround time' clock on the website so you can gauge the wait between registration and appointment time. If you feel you need more urgent intervention than the Counselling Service can offer, maybe counselling may not be suitable for you at this time.

When you meet with your counsellor, you will discuss the nature of your issues and between you you can work out how best to proceed. If you've not had counselling before, it can feel that you might need lots of time to work through your issues, but in practice, our experience tells us most people can move through even difficult concerns in a few sessions, or even less sometimes. Your counsellor will guide you. If you are familiar with having ongoing counselling (maybe supportive counselling through school, or long term private counselling) it may seem different to work in a more brief focused way, but it can be very effective and can help develop appropriate emotional resilience and ego strength.

Sometimes it is useful to have ongoing check-in sessions with your counsellor, for example a few times over a term, to help you monitor your progress and development. Many people find this way of scheduling counselling really helpful. It may be that your counsellor can offer you a course of regular on going counselling sessions in a block. Or, you may like to consider using email counselling - you can write in whenever you want and you'll receive a reply each Thursday, throughout your whole time as a student or member of staff (vacations and term times) if you wish; there is also the option of group therapy which is also potentially longer term.

Research in to the impact of counselling shows that just one or two sessions can be very helpful. According to our feedback from 2015-16, of those respondents who had one or two sessions, 90% said the one or two session were useful.

14 What if I miss a scheduled appointment?

Your initial appointment will be confirmed in an email. It is essential that you prioritise attending your appointment once you have arranged it. This helps us maximise our resources efficiently and keeps wait times to a minimum for everyone. Any appointments that are missed can lead to increased waiting times overall. If you do have to cancel an appointment, please ensure you contact the Counselling Service Administrators as soon as possible (so we have the chance to re-use your appointment slot for someone else) - either phone 02476 523761 or email You will be able to re-book your missed appointment, but there may be a wait of approximately three weeks before another appointment can be made available.

Unfortunately, on rare occasions, the Counselling Service may have to cancel a scheduled appointment with you, for example if the counsellor is unexpectedly taken ill. We will endeavour to let you know as soon as possible - the Administrator will phone you and email you if necessary. We will endeavour to offer you an alternative appointment as soon as practicable.

15 Is there evidence that counselling is effective?

Research published by the BACP in October 2012 was a year-long, sector wide study into the impact of counselling on academic outcomes, conducted by Patti Wallace, Lead Advisor, with data contributed by 65 universities and FE colleges in the UK. The key findings were that 75% of clients either 'improved' or 'recovered' following counselling (compared with 71% in primary care counselling). Also, over 75% of students who completed counselling found that counselling

  • helped them stay at university
  • improved their academic achievement
  • improved their overall experience of being a student
  • helped them develop employability skills.

The main impact of counselling was that students develop increased understanding and increased ability to cope; this then changed their outlook to one which was more confident, more optimistic and more hopeful about the future.

For the full report, please contact the Counselling Service or BACP.

16 Will anyone be informed that I am going to counselling?

In general, the counsellors will not inform a third party (ie any one else) of any details relating to you seeking counselling without your explicit request or permission. Maintaining a confidential relationship with 'clients' is an important part of successful counselling.

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.

On occasion, if your wellbeing is causing concern or to ensure you get the best network of intervention, the University support staff team involved with welfare may share information in order to ensure you are offered the most appropriate support.

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 the Counselling Professions as produced by the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) to ensure we manage issues such as confidentiality in a responsible way. (Further information is available at ). In order to monitor and develop our counselling, counsellors work with consultant supervisors (external to the University) and, in addition, may discuss issues within the counselling staff team. We are also subject to the BACP Professional Conduct Procedure.

All records/notes regarding counselling are anonymised and stored securely and are destroyed after 6 years.

NB To ensure professional and ethical standards are being maintained, occasionally counsellors may discuss with you the possibility of audio-taping one of your counselling sessions. The recording will be treated with confidentiality and respect. There is absolutely no obligation to agree to have your session recorded and, even if you do agree, you can change your mind at any time before, during or after the taping. Your counsellor will discuss this with you in detail if you are approached to tape one of your sessions.

17 Will any information go on my university records?

No. The on-line registration form asks for information about you such as your age, gender, referral source, etc which is collated and used to compile anonymous statistics. Brief summaries of sessions will be written by your counsellor and are stored in a secure, protected electronic system and all notes and data remain the property of the Counselling Service at all times. No information is recorded on any central university records. The Counselling Service complies with current Data Protection legislation. NB we are introducing a new case management system which has been significantly developed with security in mind. For more details, please ask at the Counselling Service. A Subject Access Request can be submitted to gain access to your data - ask you counsellor or the Counselling Service for more details if required.

18 How can I have my say about the Counselling Service?

The Counselling Service continually evaluates what it offers and makes improvements where possible so that the Service is meeting the needs of its users. At the end of your course of counselling (whether it be face-to-face, group or email), you will be sent an on-line questionnaire to complete. You are asked to consider various aspects of the Counselling Service such as the logistics and the usefulness of your counselling experience. Responses are collated and findings used to develop and improve the service and shared (anonymously) as appropriate. The questionnaire is sent out to you via email with an on-line link. Please be encouraged to complete and submit the questionnaire (it should only take a few minutes). There is opportunity to include ideas/suggestions as to how the Counselling Service could be improved, and to acknowledge what you think works well. All constructive feedback is welcome and appreciated. We invite you to become an Ambassador for the Counselling Service if you are interested in being involved in the development of the services. If you wish to complain about any aspect of the Counselling Service and do not feel your complaint can be resolved directly with the Service, you may wish to follow the University procedures on complaints and feeback:

19. What if I dont 'get on well with' my counsellor?

The counselling relationship is unique - it is not a friendship, not a social relationship, nor is it a collegiate relationship and as such can feel like a very different way of relating compared to other relationships in life. By definition, counsellors may ask questions that feel difficult to and they may encourage you to think about issues that may be complex or painful to consider, and sometimes people may feel this is linked to the counsellor not understanding them or their issues. A counselling relationship may need to be 'worked on'; do speak to your counsellor about how you feel you're relating together, if it is concerning you in any way. However, if you feel that you really can't proceed, rather than giving up on counselling, do mention this to the Administrator (either in person or by email) and it can be arranged for you to see another counsellor.

19 What if I am 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 as a student with the Counselling Service.

20 What about supporting mitigating circumstances?

If you have registered for counselling (one-to-one, group or email counselling) and have met with or had some exchange with the counsellor, it may be possible for the counsellor to confirm your attendance/engagement which can be considered by your department or exam board. Please note: It is important to discuss any mitigating circumstances during your appointment time with your counsellor - ensure you have time to explore it fully in your allocated session time if you want to request the counsellor considers writing a supporting statement. We are not able to support mitigating circumstances unless you have been engaged with the Counselling Service. It is not acceptable to request an appointment solely for the purpose of seeking a statement. Please ensure you allow 10 days for the counsellor to consider and process your mitigating circumstances request. For the university guidance on mitigating circumstances, please see here. 

21 How can I help someone I am concerned about?

Often 'just' listening, without giving advice, is very helpful - you don't have to find a solution. You can discuss the matter without breaking a confidence by not divulging details, perhaps with a counsellor, where confidentiality is more guaranteed. You can contact the Counselling Service where the Administrator can arrange for a counsellor to telephone or meet with you at a specific time to talk through your concerns. It may be appropriate to encourage the person to seek professional help. If counselling is an option, it is usually best if the person makes their own appointment to see a counsellor, but you can accompany them to the Counselling Service for support. If you are supporting someone whom you are concerned about, it is vital that you look after your own health and wellbeing.

22 If I have had counselling before at the Counselling Service, 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 Counselling Service counselling notes before you meet with them, please indicate this when you register and make your appointment so we can ensure that this happens.

23 What other resources are available?

  • There is a range of self help resources (available from the University Library either in hard copy, CD or ebooks. Most are readily available to buy either in bookshops or over the internet. There are also a limited number of books in the Learning Grid and the Bio-med Grid.
  • There is a range of e-sheets on specific issues with helpful information and web links
  • Check out the programme of workshops offered by the Counselling Service
  • Consider email counselling (it is important to choose to register for either email counselling or face to face)

You may consider using other sources of help, for example:

  • visit your GP: General Practitioner (Medical Doctor)
  • arrange to see your Personal Tutor
  • Seek out the Student Union Advice and Welfare Services at

If you feel you are in mental health crisis, you may find these contact details helpful:

If the problem is an acute mental health issue: for an urgent mental health assessment contact the Crisis Intervention Home Treatment Team.

Coventry, Leamington and Kenilworth residents (including campus) phone 0300 200 0011 (open all hours)

Coventry Walk-in and Healthcare Centre This is a GP-led service available in the heart of Coventry open to registered and unregistered patients, with or without an appointment, between 8am and 10pm. Telephone: 0300 200 0060 For more information, including directions, visit:

Accident and Emergency The Accident and Emergency Department of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire is available 24 hours a day for students experiencing an immediate crisis with their mental health. For more information, including directions, visit:

Mental Health Help and Advice Line – freephone 0800 616171 available 24 hours. This is a helpline which can advise how to support an individual until an appointment be made for assessment or treatment.

The Samaritans offer a 24/7 confidential listening service: tel: 116 123. They can also be emailed at: Website address ; minicom 08457 90 91 92; or visit a branch to arrange a face-to-face meeting. Samaritans deal with a wide range of concerns and are totally confidential.


The Counselling Service works to the Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions as produced by the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)

Research in to the impact of counselling shows that just one or two sessions can be very helpful. According to our feedback in the Counselling Service, many who have one or two sessions, find them useful.

Tip: If you want counselling - register sooner rather than later: don't let your issue develop in to a crisis.