- Where can I find the Counselling Service?
- When are the counsellors available?
- How do I make an appointment?
- How can counselling help me?
- What kinds of problem can I talk about?
- Is it confidential?
- Who will I see?
- What does it cost?
- What happens during a counselling session?
Q: Where can I find the Counselling Service?
A: On the lower ground floor of the North Block building, as part of the Student Advice and Wellbeing Department. Appointments can also be booked with the Counselling Service Secretary/Administrator on 020 7074 5015, room SL48.
Q: When are the counsellors available?
A: The counsellors are available Monday to Friday, except when the School is closed e.g. Bank Holidays and between Christmas and New Year. The normal appointment hours are 9am to 5pm. If you are unable to make an appointment, there are daily informal drop-in sessions (times TBC before the start of term).
Q: How do I make an appointment?
A: You can contact the Service in a number of ways: by completing a request form, in person by visiting the Student Services Department on the lower ground floor of the North Block, or by phone, calling our administrator on 020 7074 5015. You will speak to one of the counsellors or get a voicemail. If you leave a message on the voicemail with your contact details we will get back to you. By email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Please be aware that the service is able to make appointments but not to provide counselling by email.
Q: How can counselling help me?
A: Sometimes it helps to talk to someone outside your immediate network of friends and family, who can listen carefully to you and help you to make sense of events or experiences that may be on your mind as well as explore options to enable you to feel more in control of your life. Counselling may help you to make changes in your life. At other times though it may not seem practical or possible to change your circumstances, it may be possible to find a way of dealing with difficult circumstances at less cost to your physical or mental wellbeing. If we feel we are not the most appropriate source of help we will help you to find the most suitable assistance inside or outside the School.
Q: What kinds of problem can I talk about?
A: Students come to counselling with lots of different problems and concerns. These include:
- Difficulty settling in
- Pressure of work and meeting deadlines
- Exam anxiety
- Relationship difficulties
- Loss or trauma
- Lack of self-esteem and confidence
- Overwhelming feelings such as anger, anxiety, panic
Whatever your concern, the counsellor will take you seriously.
Q: Is it confidential?
A: Like all counselling services we respect confidentiality. This means that we will not, for example, talk to other staff about the concerns you have brought to counselling or report on you in any way. Any written record (e.g. contact card) is kept confidential to the Service and held in a secure file. You will have an opportunity to discuss confidentiality in more detail at the first counselling meeting.
Q: Who will I see?
A: You will see one of the counselling team, all of whom are trained and professional specialists. They are used to working with students and with the wide range of concerns that can affect people’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. At certain times, Associate Counsellors are invited to join the Service for a period of one year. These are counsellors in the final stages of their professional training. If you prefer to see an external counsellor, you can be referred to the University Health Service, to a private counsellor or a counselling agency in the community. The counselling team includes male and female counsellors and a range of counselling approaches. Please let us know if this is important to you. This year in the team we also have a female associate counsellor who is able to offer counselling to Muslim women who would prefer to see a Muslim female counsellor.
Q: What does it cost?
A: Counselling is provided free to all registered SOAS students. The University Health Service counselling service is also free of charge.
Q; What happens during a counselling session?
A: The first session is what we call a mutual assessment session. You will be given a chance to decide whether you think counselling could be helpful and whether you want to make any further appointments. The counsellor will also be able to let you know whether they think we can offer what you need. If not we can help you to get to the most appropriate source of help or advice inside or outside the School. In the first session you will also be able to arrange with the counsellor the frequency, day and times of meeting if you both decide further sessions would be useful.
In further sessions, the counsellor will provide you with time and space to talk about and think about the concerns that are affecting you. Normally sessions last for 50 minutes and you will be given a specific time and day for the session. This way you can easily fit them into your schedule of classes and other commitments. You will be in a private room, where you will not be interrupted by other people or by phone calls. The counsellor may ask you questions to help you to explore things in more depth or may check with you that they have understood exactly what you have said and particularly how you may be feeling, or they may share with you some of their thinking or understanding of the situation. However, above all else, what happens in the counselling session will be guided by your needs and priorities.