SOAS University of London

Student Advice and Wellbeing


  • When do appointments take place?
  • 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: When do appointments take place?

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 9.00 to 17.00 and the department is open 9.30 - 16.30, except on Wednesdays when we open at 11.00.

Q: How do I access counselling?

A: You can contact the Student Advice and Wellbeing department in a number of ways: in person by visiting us in SL48 on the lower ground floor of the Paul Webley Wing, or by phone, calling our administrator on 020 7074 5015. You will speak to one of the administration team or get a voicemail. If you leave a message on the voicemail with your contact details we will get back to you. Our email address is

Initially, we ask all students to attend one of our Wellbeing advice drop-in services, which run every weekday of term, including Reading Week (please check our weekly email newsletter for any changes). The drop-in gives you an opportunity to speak with a counsellor/advisor one-on-one for about 15 minutes about any difficulties you're having. They will ask you a few questions and help determine what kind of support might be best for you; as well as counselling, we have several other options which might be more suited to your needs and you will be offered the option the counsellor has assessed as being the most suitable. Please note that there is a waiting list for counselling appointments.

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
  • Loneliness
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Loss or trauma
  • Lack of self-esteem and confidence
  • Depression
  • 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 department 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: If you are referred for counselling after attending a Wellbeing advice drop-in, 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 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 a private counsellor or a counselling agency in the community. The counselling team includes male and female counsellors from diverse backgrounds and a range of counselling approaches. Please let us know if this is important to you. 

Q: What does it cost?

A: Counselling is provided free to all SOAS students. 

Q; What happens during a counselling session?

A: 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.