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Counselling

Counselling allows current USW students to access professionally trained counsellors for impartial, confidential and non-judgmental mental health support. Counselling is often best suited to those whose circumstances have affected their mental health prior to starting university (i.e. an ongoing mental health condition or historic trauma) or who have experienced a traumatic or significant event (e.g. a major bereavement) during the course of their studies.  

You may be referred to Counselling following a Wellbeing Advice Appointment.

Having the opportunity to be heard and understood by someone who is not personally involved, or telling you what to do, can in itself be very helpful. 
In addition, counselling helps people focus on and clarify their thoughts and feelings so that they can arrive at their own solutions, or even make major changes in their lives. 


For some people, counselling brings greater self-awareness and understanding which can be enough to move on from feeling held back. For others, it may lead to working in greater depth with your counsellor on long-standing issues which may be affecting your ability to study effectively now. 
In addition, or as an alternative, you may be more interested in developing coping strategies.


Working in partnership with your counsellor

Counselling is a purposeful relationship, a partnership that you enter into of your own choice. People may encourage you to attend a counselling appointment, but it is only you that can decide if you are prepared to make a specific working partnership with your Counsellor. 

A Counsellor can:

  • Help you recognise the early signs your body gives you about your emotional and mental health.
  • Support you in devising strategies for preventing issues escalating to an unmanageable level.
  • Offer you ways of calming yourself if stress has got the better of you.
  • Support you in promoting a greater sense of relaxation so that anxiety states are not so easily triggered.
  • Help you feel more resourceful in the present moment.
  • Teach you an alternative to the downward spiral of automatic negative thinking which we can unwittingly escalate when feeling overwhelmed.
  • Work with you to increase your self-esteem and confidence.
  • Help you tap into your inner resources and develop a sense of trust that you can cope with the challenges that life throws your way.

Privacy Statement

All Counsellors abide by a strict Confidentiality Code and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy’s Code of Ethics.

Notes may be made during or after your appointment. These notes are stored securely for 6 years after your counselling sessions have ended. You have the right to access these notes should you wish. Your name will not appear on any notes nor on the questionnaire we ask you to complete; instead there will be a code number allocated to you.

Support services keep records of client appointments on the university’s online diary. Access to personal information on this system is limited to Counselling staff and Manager of the Service.

Everything discussed during your sessions will remain confidential to the Service except in the most extreme circumstances. The circumstances when confidentiality will need to be extended are:

  • When you or someone else is in serious danger or at risk of serious harm.
  • When disclosure is required by law (including law relating to public health).

Usually in such circumstances Wellbeing staff would discuss the situation with you before breaching confidence. However, in high-risk situations this may not be possible. If this were not possible, you would be told what information has been disclosed at the earliest opportunity.

Counsellors regularly discuss their work with a Supervisor, an experienced practitioner who supports them and monitors their work. Work is discussed anonymously and your identity is protected.

Prior to your first appointment, you must read the Counselling Agreement that was sent to you with you appointment confirmation email.

During your first counselling session the counsellor will give you the opportunity to discuss this and to ask any questions you may have. They will also explain explain how the service works, especially in relation to service procedures, the counselling process and confidentiality. You will be asked to complete a brief questionnaire; your answers to this will help us understand what it is that has brought you to counselling. 

Without judging you, the counsellor will gently explore your situation more fully with you, so that together you can establish what support you need, what your hopes are in coming to counselling, and what the possible ways forward might be. For some people this one session is enough, but you will be offered up to a further five sessions. 

A counselling appointment is part of a counselling contract. Counsellors take these seriously and will not cancel or change appointments except in unavoidable circumstances. If such a situation arises we will make every effort to contact you as soon as possible before the appointed time.

We also ask that if you use the service, you take your counselling time seriously and make yourself available at your allocated time each week. If you need to cancel an appointment, we ask that you let us know as soon as possible by the means outlined in the Counselling Agreement and below. Missed appointments mean delays for others who need the service.

After the first session, we currently offer up to 5 further weekly sessions. We ask you to attend those sessions on successive weeks (except for holidays and other unavoidable breaks).

You may be able to access a block of counselling sessions up to twice in one academic year (1st September - 31st August). You will need to take a break of 8 weeks after finishing your first block of sessions before potentially being re-referred to counselling. This will need to be assessed as being the most appropriate course of action at a Wellbeing Advice appointment.

In fairness to those people who may be waiting for counselling, your counsellor may be unable to keep your counselling place open if you cannot attend regularly – for example if you repeatedly cancel appointments.

If you need to cancel an ongoing appointment, please give us at least 24 hours notice. To cancel your appointment you MUST email the Counselling Service quoting your student ID, and confirm attendance at your following appointment.

If you fail to attend an appointment, you MUST email the Counselling Service quoting your student ID, by the end of the working day on the day on the day of your appointment.

Failure to do so will result in you losing your place in counselling at this time.

To keep our waiting times as low as possible for everyone who needs counselling, we operate the following system:-

  • If you cancel or do not attend a First Appointment, you will be offered one further First Appointment, should you still require counselling.
  • If you cancel an ongoing appointment with less than 24 hours’ notice, you will forfeit that session (e.g. if you had agreed to having six sessions, this missed session will count as one of those six.)
  • If you miss an ongoing appointment and do not notify us by the end of the working day on the day on the day of your appointment that you wish to continue counselling, you will lose your place in counselling at this time.

If you lose your place in counselling, you will need to take a break of 8 weeks before potentially being re-referred to counselling. This will need to be assessed as being the most appropriate course of action at a further Wellbeing Advice appointment.