SOAS University of London

Student Advice and Wellbeing

Your first appointment - what to expect

Your first appointment with one of the counsellors will be an introductory meeting – so you can find out more what counselling can offer and we can learn a little about your situation so that together you and the counsellor can decide whether counselling might be useful and what other possibilities exist.

At this first meeting you can ask whatever questions you like about the counselling service and the counselling process. The counsellor will probably also ask you some questions about your circumstances to help to get as complete a picture as possible in the time available. However the emphasis will be on giving you time to talk about what is important to you.

The meeting will last about 50 minutes. Unfortunately if you are delayed we can’t extend the time at the end of the appointment as it is likely that that time will be booked for someone else. Even if you are delayed, we still recommend that you come so that you can see the counsellor even if briefly. If you are going to be delayed please do let us know as soon as possible. If you are more than half an hour late and we haven’t heard from you we may give the remaining time to someone else.

The counsellor will ask you to complete a registration card with brief details such as name, address, course, date of birth etc. This is the only identifiable record we keep and all records are kept confidential. We have a separate leaflet on confidentiality and data protection compliance available to all students.

At the end of the first meeting, the following options are usual:

  • Counselling to continue (normally up to 8 sessions)
  • No further appointment wanted/required
  • Referral for more relevant help eg welfare, learning and teaching
  • External referral eg for long term or specialist counselling/therapy

The counsellor you see initially is not necessarily the counsellor you will see if you decide to continue with counselling unless you specifically request. There are 3 counsellors in the team and 2 associate counsellors. Preferences such as day, time, male/female counsellor, black/white counsellor will be taken into account as far as possible within the limits of the team.

Counselling Service 2008