Claire's story

  • Read how Claire used counselling to help her cope with her first few weeks at Brookes.

    This story might help you get a feel for what goes on in counselling. It is based on a typical situation but Claire isn't a real person. We can't give you a real example because we are a confidential service.

    Claire had just started her first year and was finding it hard to cope.

    • She felt anxious, tearful and homesick.
    • She wondered if university was for her.
    • She couldn't make friends.
    • She wondered if she should give up and go home.

    The lonely weeks

    At first Claire was excited about getting to university. As time went on she felt more and more tearful and lonely.

    University wasn't what she expected. She'd chosen a course she liked, but now it didn't seem interesting. She didn't seem to fit in, yet everyone else seemed happy, to have made friends and to be coping. Claire wondered what was wrong with her. Now low in confidence, and reluctant to leave her room, she considered leaving Brookes.

    She felt desperate to talk to someone – “Maybe,” she thought, “I could try counselling.” But then she thought, “I should be able to cope. The counsellor will think I'm wasting their time when there are people with much bigger problems.” But the next day she felt so miserable, she decided to give it a try...

    Finding hope

    Claire was surprised how easy it was to tell the counsellor how she felt. There was no judgement or criticism. The counsellor didn't seem to think she was odd or stupid. Instead, the counsellor helped Claire see that her reactions were normal. After all, she had moved away from home to a completely new environment without the familiar support provided by her family and friends. Everything was different. There was so much information to take in, it wasn't surprising that she felt overwhelmed.

    Claire began to realise that most students experience similar feelings, but to different degrees, and many don't tell other people how they feel.

    As Claire started to be less critical of her own reactions, she regained her self-confidence. With the counsellor's help, Claire then identified coping strategies to manage on a daily basis. She made plans to find out about her course requirements, and decided when and how she would study. She began to organise her personal life. She talked with the counsellor about how she could meet other students and start conversations with them.

    Settling in

    By the end of three sessions, Claire felt much more positive. She had started to make friends. She felt able to cope with the challenges of university. Although she was beginning to like some parts of her course, she still had doubts if it was the right course for her. She decided to talk these through with her Academic Advisor if she felt the same at the end of the semester.

    Most of all, she felt she had regained some control over her life.