Many personal decisions are made and problems solved through discussions with friends or family, a College Tutor or Director of Studies, a Nurse, Chaplain, colleague, line manager or a GP. However, at times it is right to seek help away from one’s familiar daily environment. The CSIS Counselling Service exists to meet such a need. Seeking counselling is about making a positive choice to get help by talking confidentially with a professionally trained listener who has no other role in your life.
Who are the Counsellors?
The Service is staffed by a team of trained and accredited counsellors and therapists. The counsellors are all experienced in helping people from many different backgrounds and cultures, and with a wide range of personal and work issues.
Some of the counsellors who work in the Service Are Associates, in the late stages of their counselling training. Their work is carefully supervised within the Service. Please let us know if you would prefer not to be seen by an Associate.
What happens in counselling?
Counselling is a process that seeks to help you focus on and understand more clearly the issues that concern or trouble you. The counsellor's role is to offer support and understanding, and to listen and respond in a non-judgmental way. She/he will respect your values, choices and lifestyle. Counselling can help you explore your feelings and discover what lies behind whatever seems troubling or confusing. Counselling can also help with making decisions, choices or changes that are right for you.
What sort of problems can be helped through counselling?
Most personal, relationship or identity problems can be helped through counselling. This includes anxiety, stress and depression, family and/or relationship difficulties, sexual problems and identity issues. Counselling can also help with other issues such as: adjusting to a new culture, dealing with dilemmas, making difficult decisions or choices, as well as more specific problems such as bereavement and difficulties affecting work, including bullying and harassment.
Don't wait until a problem has grown very serious - we would much rather you came when something is relatively minor, so that it can be resolved more quickly.
The Service is very well used and we saw over thousands of students and hundreds of staff during last year alone.
We are engaged in an extensive evaluation of people's experience of the Service, and to aid this we routinely use a questionnaire to seek feedback. Respondents can choose whether to reply anonymously or not.
Responses will be stored on a database separate from others used in the Service, and will comply with the provisions of the Data Protection Act. No responses will be used in a way that identifies individuals.
CSIS is happy to announce the appointment of Mr jagan, who is one of the best school counselors. His primary goal is to encourage, support and foster positive academic, career, social and personal development in every child in the school. As a parent, how many times have you wondered, "Is this normal for my child?" How many teachers have questioned "What am I supposed to do now? I've tried everything else! “It is difficult for parents and teachers see children, even very young children, having problems that a teacher or parent may not be able to help with. Or even if they could help, maybe the child does not feel comfortable talking to them because it's a problem that involves that person or maybe they don't feel comfortable for a variety of reasons. We all experience those occasions when our child just won't talk to us. So who will our child talk to? That's where the role of the school counselor comes into play. The counselor is a person who isn't going to judge or discipline. Her job is to listen to the kids. Besides knowing how to listen, school counselors are also trained in many areas, such as learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder, parenting techniques, and behavioral psychology.
Students can reach out to the counselor by filling the referral forms themselves. Sometimes the students may also visit the counselor if the parents, staff or teachers refer them to her. The counselor may call the students sometimes as and when she recognizes the need to help a particular student.
Small group counseling sessions help students to express their feeling appropriately, and learn to conform to the group norms, overcome negative feelings, and reflect on positive aspects of thinking process. They help students to brainstorm on numerous issues. Every student in a group is involved in the conversation. Some of the sessions that are common to group counseling are friendship, anger management, time management, career choices and class-room participation Behavior management techniques can be learned by the group members. Using role play sessions help these students to practice these characteristics before using them in real life situations. Small group session also enhances students' problem solving skills and communication skills.
- Workshops on guiding students to success
- Workshops for teachers as part of teacher training programs
- Workshops to parents in order to create an open communication environment
Mental Health Advisor
The Student Counselling Service has two Mental Health Advisors who provide a range of support to students experiencing moderate to severe mental health difficulties. Students are referred to the MHAs by staff of the Colleges and University.
For more information please see the pages on Mental Health Advisors.
Making an Appointment
Appointments are usually made by completing a 'pre-counselling form' which enables us to place you with an appropriate counsellor as quickly as possible. Further information about appointments and the pre-counselling forms are available from the links below:
The University of Cambridge Counselling Service exists to provide a professional service to students and staff of the College and University communities. The Service supports the mission of the University by offering:
- Counselling and mental health support - to students and staff, both individually and in groups, and, with strict regard to clients’ confidentiality, working in collaboration with Colleges, the University and NHS
- Educational work - to help students and staff make the best personal use of the opportunities offered by the Colleges and
- Preventive work - consultation, guidance and training to those with a pastoral role in the Colleges and University, and provision of general feedback and recommendations to help promote a healthy working environment for both students and
Adopted by the Counselling Service Executive Committee,
Do I need to see a counsellor?
Many people sort out problems by talking to friends, family or staff in their school, College or Department. For others it is a matter of looking up information about things that concern them, and we have a large section of self-help information on this website - follow the Self Help link here or on the left. But there are times when this isn't enough and it makes sense to come to the Counselling Service.
Who is the Service for?
The Service is free and available to all undergraduate students in residence and graduate students on the register, including students of the Theological Colleges. Students who are intermitting from their studies may be referred to their GPs or offered a limited service with a view to referral.
Staff of the Colleges may be seen once for assessment and onward referral. More information is available from this link.
Individual and Group Counselling
The Service primarily offers brief counselling, with the majority of students seen for six sessions or fewer. As well as individual counselling, we provide Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and access to guided self-help, where this is appropriate. Brief counselling and CBT both involve an active, collaborative process, with ongoing sessions or follow-ups scheduled at weekly, fortnightly or longer intervals. This therapeutic approach can be very effective for help with a wide range of personal, developmental and academic-related problems.
In some cases, we can offer some longer-term support though this is often in a counselling group.
The Service also offers a variety of topic-specific workshops throughout the year, as well as short- term and longer-term CBT and counselling groups. More information is available from this link. Some of these are specifically designed for undergraduate or graduate students.
Making an appointment
To arrange counselling, please complete a 'Pre-Counselling Form' on our secure website. The form is intended to be thought-provoking, but you do not need to give long answers; you can also put "I would prefer to talk about this in person" if it is difficult to write about, though the information you give us helps us to arrange an appointment with an appropriate counsellor. It can be submitted securely to the Counselling Service online; you will need your Raven password to use this facility. To access this route, please click on the link below:
Please be aware that the online form requires completion within a 3hr time frame, after which it automatically shuts down (you may want to save your data in case the session is close to expiring). We also recommend, that you do not send the form from a mobile phone.
- Complete Pre-Counselling form online (secure website)
If you prefer to download a Word version of the 'Pre-Counselling Form' and complete this by hand, please click on the following link:
Once completed, you can bring the form to the Counselling Service, 2-3 Bene't Place, Lensfield Road, or post it via the internal mail marked for ‘Reception’. In case of technical difficulties, the form is also available as an email attachment or in hard copy from the Service. The information you give will remain confidential within the Counselling Service, and helps us to place you with an appropriate counsellor.
Receiving an appointment offer for counselling
After receiving your form, we will send you an email acknowledgement. In most cases, an appointment will be offered by email and you will be asked to confirm within a stated time period.
During peak times, your details may be placed on the waiting list until a suitable appointment becomes available. For more information about waiting times and appointment offers, please see our FAQs page.
If you are unable to attend a first appointment, please let us know as early as possible. We will normally make up to two first appointment offers, based on the availability shown in your timetable. We do our best to accommodate personal and academic commitments, but the more flexible you can be in terms of availability, the more likely you are to be seen promptly.
Liaison with Academic Departments or Colleges
If your work is being affected by personal problems it may be helpful for your counsellor to liaise with your Tutor, Director of Studies or other person within the University. Because the Service is confidential, we would need your consent to do so - let your counsellor know if you would find this helpful.
Liaison with GPs and Mental Health Services
All students should register with a Cambridge doctor and it can be helpful to inform your GP that you are seeing a counsellor at the UCS. We can also arrange mental health assessments within the Counselling Service either via our Mental Health Advisor (see below) or through a referral to a Consultant Psychiatrist, who attends the Service one day a week in term time. Your counsellor would discuss this with you if this seems appropriate.
Mental Health Advisors
The Mental Health Advisors working in the Counselling Service provides support and guidance to students who are in crisis or who are experiencing moderate to severe mental health difficulties. They also offer advice to College and University staff about the management of student mental health issues.
The MHAs offer:
- Mental Health assessments and plan of appropriate support
- Ongoing case work
- Crisis intervention
- Suicide risk assessment
- Liaison with College staff and academic departments
- Liaison with GPs and Mental Health Services
- Fitness to study assessments and fitness to return to study
For more information, please see the pages on the Mental Health Advisors.
College-Based Counselling is provided in colleges taking part in this pilot scheme. The College- based counsellor is part of the wider University Counselling Service. To see if your college is currently taking part in this scheme and for further information please click here.
The Mental Health Advisors
The Mental Health Advisors (MHAs) offer a range of interventions to students experiencing moderate to severe mental health difficulties.
The MHAs only accept referrals from a college nurse or from tutors.
Emily Farrar MHA can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
and Ashleigh St Louis MHA can be contacted by email: email@example.com
All phone calls for the MHAs need to go through reception on: 01223 332865
The MHA's Confidentiality Policy
At the first appointment, the MHA will ask for the student’s consent to share information on a ‘need to know’ basis with relevant staff involved in their welfare. If the student does not wish to give their consent, this is likely to limit the support that the MHA will be able to offer. In a situation where the student is considered to be at risk to themselves or to others, confidentiality may be extended without their consent.
Mental Health Assessment
If a student requires a mental health assessment, the MHAs will arrange to meet them at the Counselling Service. With the student’s permission, the MHA will discuss the outcome of the assessment with the referrer.
The MHAs can offer a quick response to students who are in crisis, and are usually able to arrange to see the student by the next working day. Our MHAs have expertise in crisis intervention including suicide risk assessment. The MHAs will arrange to see the student as frequently as needed until the crisis has resolved.
Students can be offered ongoing MHA support with the frequency of appointments being tapered in accordance with the student’s changing circumstances. The MHAs work individually with students using a solution-focused approach to develop coping strategies and self-management.
Fitness to Study
When a College has significant concerns about a student’s health and/or safety, the MHAs can provide a mental health assessment to inform the College's decision of a student's fitness to study. When a student is returning to study after a period of intermission on mental health grounds, the MHAs can provide an assessment of the appropriate support required.
The Fitness to Return assessment will include an evaluation of whether the student has recovered sufficiently to manage the demands of the academic Term, taking into consideration the student’s previous difficulties and the College’s concerns about them.
Supporting evidence for the Applications Committee.
The MHAs can provide letters for the Applications Committee giving information on a student’s mental health and the impact this has on their studies.
Advice to College and University staff in relation to student mental health
University and College staff can contact the MHAs directly to discuss individual or general student mental health concerns.
College-Based Counselling is provided in colleges taking part in this pilot scheme. The college- based counsellor is part of the wider University Counselling Service (UCS) and governed by the same confidentiality policies, procedures and professional standards.
Why should I choose College-Based counselling?
Some students like the option of accessing counselling at their college within a familiar environment, whereas others may prefer the neutral setting of the UCS. This personal choice may also depend on your timetable, proximity to specific sites during term time, and both yours and the counsellor’s availability.
How does it work?
The counsellor is on-site during term time for a specific day(s) of the week. You can self-refer by email using the referral information available on your college website. The welfare staff within your college, your family or friends may also signpost you to counselling, however the decision to apply is up to you.
The counsellor primarily offers a brief counselling model working to an agreed focus with advice on alternative support and/or onward referral where appropriate.
What happens if I’ve already applied to the University Counselling Service?
Please note the college-based counsellor is not able to fast-track your UCS application. There are 2 separate referral routes for the UCS and College-Based Counselling and although you can apply to both it’s not possible to see 2 counsellors or attend a UCS group simultaneously. If this situation arises we will discuss the options with you to ensure you access the most appropriate support for you at the time.
If you apply to the UCS at the same time as College-Based Counselling, you will remain on the respective waiting lists until an appointment becomes available. Regardless of where you receive counselling, you will continue to have full access to the UCS self-help resources and their available workshops.
Does my College have a College-Based counsellor?
The following colleges are currently taking part in this pilot scheme:
If you are a member of one of these colleges, please follow the links to find out more information.
Please note some colleges may also have a private counsellor available as part of their welfare provision, this is independent to the College-Based Counselling scheme.
Waiting Times for Student Counselling
Waiting times for counselling vary greatly depending on your availability. It will help if you can be flexible about when you are seen. Those who wait longest tend to be people with a restricted availability or who are requesting evening appointments.
Once an appointment is offered, if you make it a priority this will enable us to see you faster, as rescheduling appointments is not straightforward and can cause significant delays.
Current Waiting Times for Student Counselling
Our current waiting times are 2 - 3 weeks depending on availability. In some cases, the wait may be shorter or longer, due to a number of factors.
The Service is not funded to see College staff, but we are able to offer a single session in
the Student Counselling Service to staff who have a College contract. This would normally be to help you find suitable support elsewhere.
Sometimes a consultation appointment is useful as an opportunity to discuss your situation in confidence. If counselling seems an appropriate way forward, College staff can then:
- Ask their GP for a referral
- Contact one of the local agencies providing counselling in the Cambridge area (see details below)
- Find a private counsellor or therapist via the BACP, UKCP or BABCP websites (see details below)
- See their line manager or College Personnel officer to ask whether the college could fund private counselling N.B. If you have a University contract as well as being employed by a College, you can be seen in the Staff Counselling Service. Please follow the Staff Counselling link on the left to arrange to be seen.
The following professional counselling organisations' websites can be used to find counsellors & therapists working privately in the locality:
British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) BACP
United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) UKCP
British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) BABCP
Association of Cognitive Analytic Therapists (ACAT) ACAT
Association for Family Therapy (AFT) AFT
College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT), (formerly BASRT, British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapists) CORST
Where to begin...?
There are many sources of self-help information available. This information has been written or compiled by staff of the University Counselling Service, responding to clients who have asked us for suggestions.
Please use the links on the left to access each section.
The section on Self Help for Students contains detailed information on a wide range of topics from anxiety to procrastination. This includes our own leaflets alongside specific websites, helpful resources and current booklist.
Other Sources of Support
Our Other Sources of Support link lists services within the University and local agencies that provide related support. There are also links to national counselling and psychotherapy organizations.
- Academic Issues
- Adjustment and Transitions
- Alcohol, Drugs and Addiction
- Disordered Eating and Body Image
- Gender and Sexuality
- Relationships and Managing Conflict
- Self Esteem
- Sexual Assault/Harassment
- Stress and Relaxation
- Suicidal Feelings
Who is the Service for?
The Staff Counselling Service is available free of charge to all staff who hold a University contract of employment: academic, academic-related, assistant, research and technical. [We regret that temporary workers on assignment through the Temporary Employment Service are not eligible to use this service.]
College staff: Senior members and staff who are employed by the Colleges but are not University employees may consult the Student Counselling Service for a free initial assessment and then be referred on for private or NHS counselling or psychotherapy. Please follow this link.
[NB Staff at institutions such as UCLES, Cambridge Assessment & CUP cannot be seen for counselling, as these are separate employers.]
Who are the Staff Counsellors?
The Service is staffed by professionally accredited, and widely experienced Staff Counsellors. All are used to helping people from many different backgrounds and cultures and with a wide range of personal issues. We also have Associate Counsellors who are in the late stages of their counselling training.
In general, if work is affecting your emotional or psychological health, or if your emotional or psychological health is affecting your work, you may find counselling helpful. Members of staff at the University approach the Counselling service for help with a wide range of issues. Staff may come with work issues such as stress, bullying or harassment, work block or difficult relationships with colleagues. They may also come with personal issues such as bereavement, family or relationship difficulties, cultural experiences, or for support with questions relating to their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Counselling Service is inclusive of all University staff and able to respond sensitively to a diverse range of different concerns that people may have. Most work or personal issues can be helped through counselling. If you are not sure whether counselling could help you, please ask for a Pre-counselling session, when you could discuss this with one of the counsellors.
Counselling sessions last 50 minutes. At the first session you can talk over the reasons for seeking counselling and together with your counsellor decide on the most appropriate way forward. Some find this exploratory session sufficient on its own; others will want ongoing individual counselling or referral to other help. We usually find that most people are helped in 6-10 sessions.
We organize our work by offering each client an appointment 'slot' (e.g. 9am on Monday) with a particular counsellor, which remains the same for the duration of the sessions. The waiting list is for one of these 'slots'. It is important to complete the availability chart on the Pre-Counselling Form to indicate times when you will be able to consistently attend. We do at times have single sessions available and can use these to see someone quickly if appropriate while they are waiting.
Appointments are available during the day as well as on Tuesday and Thursday at 5.15 and 6.15pm.
If you are unable to attend an appointment, please let us know as early as possible. Missed appointments and late cancellations mean losing one of your sessions.
Waiting List Policy
There are times when the wait for counselling is longer than we would like. This happens when the demand for counselling is greater than the number of appointments we can offer, but it is also due to a minority of staff not confirming or not keeping appointments - and thus the appointments are 'wasted'. To reduce waiting times for everyone, we have the following policy:
Priority on our waiting list takes into account the severity or urgency of your situation and the length of time you have been waiting. When an appointment offer is made we ask that you confirm it by a given date. This then secures your appointment. However, if you do not respond we will reallocate the appointment to someone else. If you do not attend a confirmed appointment we will normally, at your request, reinstate you on the waiting list but only from the date of your request.
We do our best to accommodate personal and work commitments but, if your available times are very restricted, this is likely to increase your wait. The more flexible you can be the more likely you are to be seen promptly.
Individual and Group Counselling
The majority of the Staff Service work is individual counselling, but the Service does offer various counselling groups for staff.
Liaison with GPs and Mental Health Services
It is sometimes helpful if you inform your GP that you are seeing a counsellor at the UCS. If it is appropriate, and with your consent, we can liaise with your GP to make referrals to a variety of psychological, therapeutic or psychiatric services in the community. Your counsellor would discuss this with you if this seems the best way forward.
If you decide you would like to speak to a counsellor you can apply in the following ways:
- Please read the above information to check you are eligible for the service and to understand how sessions are
- Complete the 'Pre-Counselling Form' on the secure website and submit it direct to the Counselling Service online. You will need your Raven password to use this
Complete Pre-Counselling form online (secure website)
- If you prefer to download a Word or RTF version of the 'Pre-Counselling Form' and complete this by hand, please click on one of the following links:
You can print out and complete the form, and then bring it to the Counselling Service, at 2-3 Bene't Place, Lensfield Road, or put it in the (free) internal mail addressed to Reception, Counselling Service, 2-3 Bene't Place, Lensfield Road, Cambridge.
- If, for any reason, you would like to come to counselling but feel unable to complete the form, please contact the Service by phone  or email [firstname.lastname@example.org] and we will arrange an initial meeting in
- Occupational Health or Human Resources can refer you
- In case of technical difficulties, the form is also available as an email attachment or in hard copy from the Service. You can contact reception on 01223 332865 or by email email@example.com.
If completing the Pre-counselling form, it is important to complete the availability chart on the Pre-Counselling Form to indicate times when you will be able to consistently attend.
When we receive the form:
- We will acknowledge the receipt of your Pre-Counselling Form by email (or phone if you have requested contact by phone).
- If possible, we will offer you an appointment straight away, but there is often a wait for counselling, depending on how busy we are and your availability. Up to date information about waiting times can be found on our News page.
- If there is a waiting list, we will inform you of the likely waiting
- When an appointment becomes available, we will contact you with an offer, and ask you to reply to confirm you are coming by a set time /
The information you give will remain confidential within the Counselling Service, and helps us to place you with an appropriate counsellor.
Other Sources of Help in the University
You might also find it helpful to approach these services directly or to read the University policies: