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An overview of Counselling and Psychotherapy

The aim of therapy is to support you to thrive and help you understand how you can make some positive changes.

Some facts about therapy

  • Talking with a psychological therapist offers a unique space that friends or family cannot provide.
  • The ‘severity’ of a problem is relative; if something feels difficult for you then therapy is valid whether a concern feels small or large.
  • People who engage in the therapeutic process often find it useful, although sometimes challenging. Talking with a trained professional can help.
  • Therapy 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.
  • Psychological therapists don’t normally give advice and therapy is not necessarily a cure-all, but it can be very useful.

Students use therapy for different reasons. Some examples include:

  • To help work out why they feel low or depressed so they can feel better
  • 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

Therapy can help you to focus on, and understand more clearly, issues that concern you. By respecting your values, choices and lifestyle, the psychological therapists can work together with you towards making choices or changes that are right for you.

A therapy 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 explore different ways to improve your situation, by drawing on your inner strengths and resources.

The Counselling and Psychotherapy Services CAPS- FAQs

The purpose of CAPS: The service provides an opportunity for all students at the University of Warwick to access professional psychological therapy so that they may better develop and fulfil their personal, academic and professional potential.

Who are the staff in CAPS? There is a team of Psychological Therapists working to provide a comprehensive therapy service within Wellbeing and Student Support for the University of Warwick.

Who goes to CAPS? People from all the different academic departments use our services. Undergraduates and postgraduates and all years of study attend.

Who can access CAPS? Currently registered students can use our service. Please note that if you have temporarily withdrawn, are resitting without residence, or if you have reached the end date of your studies, the support we can offer will usually be time limited.

Will it go on my student record that I am seeking help? No. It is a confidential service. No information will go on your academic student records and the Psychological Therapists will not generally communicate with your academic department.

How many sessions do CAPS offer? We offer brief psychological intervention. There is no set number of sessions but our experience indicates that most students require between three and five appointments, but this is not an absolute. Appointments are generally spaced at two or three week intervals to give you time to process and activate changes discussed. Your therapist will discuss your needs and devise a session plan with you that suits your individual circumstances. People generally over-estimate how many sessions they will need to make changes, in fact, through 2022-23 the feedback shows that 80% of students felt the number of sessions they had was about right for them. The most familiar pattern of appointments is fortnightly, which allows for time between sessions to process learnings; most students find this is helpful to work around their timetable; there is some flexiiblity on this depending on a range of factors.

Once you have agreed a session plan with your therapist, you will not usually be able to reschedule any appointments which you cancel or do not attend without incurring longer wait times, but we always endeavour to be helpful with rescheduling where we have capacity.

The aim for all our interventions is to support students to develop the personal resources and skills necessary to navigate the challenges and opportunities of student life. The emphasis is on effecting changes so the therapy will be generally solution focussed rather than on-going, regular 'befriending'.

Once I've had a course of counselling, can I come back for more? We recommend you leave at least 2 months (more than a term), preferably longer, after you have completed a course of counselling. This gives you time to process and consolidate the impact and changes you have been able to instigate.

I have a busy timetable. Will I be able to access services? We offer appointments through the working hours of the service. The first appointment is usually 9.15am. On Tuesdays and Thursdays in term time we are able to offer some late-in-the-day appointments for those students, such as medical students or PGCE students on placement who may not be available during business hours. Even if your initial appointment is at a busy time for you, it is possible to negotiate the times of any follow-on sessions. It is considered acceptable - and important - to prioritise your therapy appointment over academic or other commitments, as you would any other important health appointment with a specialist.

How do I access CAPS? You have 2 options:

1) in person: visit Wellbeing and Student Support on the ground floor of Senate House (the building next to the Arts Centre on central campus) between 10am and 3pm Monday to Friday OR

2) virtually: log in to the wellbeing portal at

From here you will meet a wellbeing professional for a brief consultation where you can consider your best next steps. This may include a referral to CAPS for psycholgical therapy.

NB this brief consultation may not be with one of the Psychological Therapists but will be with a qualified wellbeing professional.

What happens if I am referred to CAPS? You will be sent a link to the Counsellling Referral Form via the wellbeing portal. You need to complete this brief online form, including completing a question about what you want to focus on in your course of therapy. NB it is helpful to think of one specific focus that can have a positive impact on your university experience (rather than a vague or vast goal), so do give this some thought.

What's the wait time to get a face to face appointment with a Psychological Therapist in CAPS? We endeavour to offer you an appointment within approximately 2 to 6 weeks after your brief consultation with a Wellbeing Advisor, but at busy times it may be a bit longer. We will do our best to meet your needs and when you have your initial brief consultation you will be advised of the next steps and the time frame to anticipate. Most students find this useful to help them prepare for therapy to get the most out of their experience.

Where is CAPS based? We are in Senate House in the centre of campus (adjacent to the Arts Centre) on the ground floor - follow the green bamboo wall graphics.

What sort of therapy is available in CAPS? There are various theoretical models that influence the way in which the Psychological Therapists may work with you. Some key models currently used include: person-centred, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural (CBT) and integrative using a range of tools and techniques including solution focused work; CFT, EFT, SFT, ACT, REBT, and others. You can discuss this with your therapist.

How is therapy delivered? As well as in-person sessions, we also offer therapy via video call (via MS Teams). As well as talking therapies, we also offer a therapy intervention by email - for details and to register, go to Email Therapy Service.

We also offer the opportunity for group therapy sessions.

You can discuss these options during your initial brief consultation.

How long is each therapy session? Sessions are scheduled for 50 minutes (sometimes on-line sessions can be a bit shorter). It helps to get the most from your session by preparing what you want to discuss - and, a tip from a student who has used the service says 'don't leave the very important stuff to the end of the session!'

What about contact with the therapist outside of a session time? The wellbeing portal offers a space for W&SS/your therapist to contact you between sessions in exceptional circumstances, for example, to confirm a necessary change to an appointment time. Contact by email will only be used by the therapist in exceptional circumstances as it is not an approved regular medium of contact. The wellbeing messaging portal is not a space to share personal information that belongs within the therapy session. Therapists work patterns mean that they do not usually work full business hours so the portal messages are not necessarily checked daily. If you need support between therapy sessions, we recommend you access services such as Togetherall.

What's the difference between/benefits of on-line and in-person therapy? Sometimes it may be clinically important to work in person, so the therapist can see and work together with the 'whole person' of you in the therapy room. Beyond that, it is individual choice: sometimes its based on practicalities (eg if you're off campus or have a packed schedule it can be easier to work on-line); some people feel more secure in a therapy room, some people feel more secure in a room of their own choice working on-line via MS Teams. We have the flexibility to offer both according to need. One modality is not necessarily better than the other, they are simply different for different people at different times. You might begin face to face and switch to on-line, or vice versa. Your therapist will guide you in this.

What changes can I expect to experience throughout my therapy? The process of therapy is not magic, but the effects can be very profound. Be prepared, sometimes it can take a little while to experience the positive impact of therapy. The more you engage with the process, the more you'll get out of it. It is a dynamic process that requires you to participate. The therapist can't 'make you better' without you working at it yourself. That's why we suggest you carefully prepare for therapy and commit to prioritise attending each session fully.

What happens if I arrive late for my therapy appointment? The session time will still finish at the scheduled time (if we run over for one person, it makes all appointments for everyone else that day late too!). However, if you're running late, message via the Wellbeing Portal and it may be possible that the therapist can still see you for the remainder of the session time.

What if I want to change my therapist? Therapy might feel challenging and even possibly a bit emotionally uncomfortable at times, but your therapist will always aim to be respectful and thoughtful with you; your therapist is not your friend and may ask about and challenge some of your thoughts and behaviours - that's part of the therapy process. If you think you want to change your therapist we would always encourage you to address this directly with the therapist in the first instance - this may feel difficult but can be valuable learning. If this seems intolerable, message your therapist on the wellbeing portal with this request and the CAPS management team will take this forward and arrange to schedule you in with another therapist.

I am a post graduate student, am I eligible to use CAPS? Absolutely. We welcome working with post grads. If you are registered as a student at any level, then you are eligible and welcome to use our services. The CAPS team have an understanding about the challenges of post graduate study and the impact it can have on your psychological wellbeing.

I’m an international student and culturally I have little/no experience of counselling. How could it benefit me? Many students from all backgrounds and a range of cultures engage with - and benefit from - counselling. Read the prepare for therapy information and decide if you want to engage. Feedback from a student said: 'It was nice to know that I had an outlet to express how I was feeling without judgement instead of having to bottle it up'.

What does CAPS NOT provide? To help manage expectations, it is important to note that the CAPS team do not: prescribe medication (we suggest you go to your GP or discuss with a pharmacist); we are not able to make psychiatric diagnoses; as a service within a university, we are not able to provide long term weekly intervention for mental health issues (such as personality disorders); we would probably refer you on to specialist services for some issues, such as an entrenched and debilitating eating disorder, or a diagnosis of complex PTSD, etc. Also, we are not able to provide reports to advise your academic staff on how to proceed when you have psychological issues that are impacting on your work (but we can offer a 'Statement of Attendance' - see separate FAQ).

Can CAPS support me with evidence of mitigating circumstances? Sometimes your psychological/emotional issues can impact on your capacity to perform to your academic potential and you may choose to submit a request to your personal tutor to, for example, extend a deadline or ask that your circumstances be considered when marking your work. CAPS can provide a 'Statement of Attendance' confirming your sessions with your therapist and offer a brief overview of the issues you have been working on in your therapy; you can then include this in your submission as part of your evidence for your tutor to consider. NB most tutors appreciate that you have taken positive action to engage in therapy to help you move through your issues and should consider it positively.

Do I have to pay to have counselling? No, access to all the University Counselling and Psychotherapy Services are free of charge to all students at the University. The Counsellors in CAPS all work for the University of Warwick.

What happens in the University vacations? Counselling & Psychotherapy Services are available throughout the whole year. We may be able to offer on-line appointments if that is appropriate when you are away from the university, but CAPS are staffed in person throughout the vacations, except when the Univeristy is closed.

I’ve experienced a trauma that I don’t want to talk about. If I go for counselling, do I have to explain my trauma in detail? No, it is possible to work through trauma without discussing the event in detail. Discuss this with your therapist.

How is the CAPS linked in with other support? What you talk about with your therapist will remain confidential within the Wellbeing and Student Support team, unless there is a serious welfare concern.

What are the limits of confidentiality offered by CAPS? We will send you a service agreement before your first appointment which will outline the limits of confidentiality when working with our service. We appreciate that for your counselling to be effective you need to trust we will hold your confidence. In the vast majority of cases we will not breach your confidence. However, if, for example, we have serious concerns for your welfare, we may have to alert someone else (such as the police, in extremis) but wherever possible we will discuss this with you. Please talk with your counsellor for full information, or see the guidance from our professional body for full details.

How do I offer feedback to CAPS? At the end of your course of therapy you will be sent a link to a feedback questionnaire where you are invited to feed back on all areas of your CAPS experience. All feedback forms are read and all constructive suggestions for improvment are considered.

What if I want counselling that is not linked to the University of Warwick? There is a range of other counselling resources you could consider, both local and national.

More information: more information about CAPS' services, processes, procedures are available on request and annual report information is available on request to stakeholders and appropriately interested parties. Please email outlining your request details to

Wellbeing and Student Support, including CAPS, works to the University of Warwick's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies (and CAPS has a specific EDI strategy) and as such we believe that every individual in our University community should be treated with dignity and respect and be part of a working and learning environment that is free from barriers, regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex (gender identity), sexual orientation, marriage or civil partnership and pregnancy or maternity status.

The Counselling and Psychotherapy Service is proud to hold our professional body's accredited service kitemark as a benchmark for our standards, which we have held continuously since May 2009.

We adhere to the BACP (British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy) ethical framework

99.65% would recommend our counselling services to others

99.30% were satisfied or very satisfied

From 2022-23 feedback

“BACP counsellors working within higher education in-house counselling services are well-trained to offer a caring and meaningful relationship to struggling students. It’s within this confidential and trusting relationship that students have space to reflect and grow into independent and autonomous learners. We know, from our own research findings, that students attending these counselling services are more likely to stay engaged in their studies and flourish."

Louise Knowles, Chair of BACP’s University and Colleges Division

News from BACP, 14 March 2024


"Thank you so much, [the therapy] has improved my self-esteem, made me happier and made me more accepting of myself. [Therapy] was a very good decision for me, thank you for everything"

"I felt like I was able to really see a change in myself and my wellbeing since the start of the counselling sessions"

"I felt like therapy helped me develop self management skills and made me start to think more about myself and others"

"I am incredibly thankful for my time in therapy"

"...rather than a terrible and hopeless person, I can now see myself as someone who makes mistakes but has the possibility to improve. Also, it helps me build connections with my own feelings and value my own thoughts"

"Therapy helped me get over my self-hatred and understand my limits better. It also helped me deal with my trauma and grief. I can finally wake up happy. Thank you"

"I was struggling with grief and therapy really helped me feel better and process some tough emotions"

"Therapy has helped me process difficult situations and improved my ability to make decisions when previously I would avoid hard choices - [the therapist] has been extremely kind, positive and helpful"

"Given me a space where I won’t be judged to be who I am and be comfortable talking about myself without feeling like I am over talking or burdening someone"

"She helped me navigate through some of the most challenging times during my postgraduate studies. She supported me in acknowledging the difficult feelings that my past has brought up and helped me manage them in a healthy way"

"Scheduling was brilliant - definitely worked around my personal schedule very
well, and gaps between sessions were about 2/3 weeks which gave me time to
think over the advice from the previous session"

Quotes from the feedback questionnaires after therapy with CAPS