For some time I have been following various research studies on student counselling at universities. This latest one comes from a study done by the National Union of Students (NUS). It interests me because, despite being a limited study, the points it raises are fairly typical of student counselling services and the comments from readers are also illuminating.
When I established an online counselling option for clients it soon became a popular option with students. Their reasons for contacting me correspond with some cited in the above report, namely:
- many students are desperate for quick access to help – student counselling services at university are over-prescribed and waiting lists are lengthy (this applies also to NHS counselling services),
- the 6 allotted sessions at university counselling services are not enough in some cases and some intermittent follow up sessions which clients say would have been helpful, are not an option,
- some students are suspicious of the motivations underlying some of the counselling believing that other agendas are operating behind the help they receive (e.g. they must be prevented from dropping out of uni),
- many want to get their problem sorted quickly and so prefer therapies targeted towards helping them find solutions, they don’t want to chat on about their problem, but are looking for a sense of direction or ways to make changes that will help with their issues,
- those who are aware that their university offers a service are often embarrassed about their problems and worried that fellow students – and in particular staff – will find out or be informed about their difficulties if they use the service. They fear that this will have an adverse effect on their studies and other’s perceptions of them as competent and able people. They prefer to remain anonymous, hence the choice of online counselling for many and access to a service outside the university.
My offer of low cost, online access to counselling (skype call, video, chat, email) gives students the choice of sorting out their issues fairly swiftly whilst remaining anonymous should they wish to do so. Entry to appointments is quick and easy to set up. Above all, we work in a way that is sustaining and supportive and where students (and other clients) feel confident that they will be helped to find a way through and out of their difficulties that is specific to them and (importantly) is ultimately sustainable. Later they can return easily to counselling if ever they require it, even if it’s for a one-off session. Hassle-free!
My message to students is don’t stay silent and troubled. Contact me if you’d like to try this option for a couple of sessions, to see how things go and if it suits you – we can discuss an affordable fee. It could help shift that huge weight you’re carrying on your shoulders.