FAQs - Counselling

  • We realise you may have many questions to do with the Counselling Service and we hope to answer some of these here. The following FAQs have been written to help you access important information about our services as quickly as possible.

    If your question is not listed below, please contact us

    Registering with us

  • Once your registration form has been submitted, it will processed by a member of the Counselling team.

    Depending on your assessed needs, you will then be offered a consultation appointment (either face-to-face or by telephone) which will be an opportunity for us to discuss your needs with you and arrange or suggest psychological support appropriate to your current situation. You may be asked to complete online clinical measures prior to your appointment. These measures together with your registration form will inform the discussion.

    We aim to contact you by email within 2 to 5 working days of receiving your online registration form. We will use your Brookes email address for all contact so please ensure that you check your inbox on a regular basis for communication about your registration with the service. If you do not reply to our email contact within 48 hours, we may assume you no longer wish to use our services and close your file.

    If you have not heard from us within 5 working days of registration, please contact the Wellbeing reception team on wellbeing-recpt@brookes.ac.uk or telephone us on 01865 (48)4650.

    If you need to speak to someone urgently, please make this clear on your registration form. Counselling is not an emergency service. We will book you an appointment as soon as we can, and will give you information on seeking urgent help in the meanwhile.

    Please try and make yourself available for the time and date offered whenever possible as requesting a different time or date may delay accessing the support you require.

    If the date and time offered for your consultation are not suitable, it is very important to let us know as soon as you can, so that we can offer the time to another student.

    Once we are notified of your request to change the appointment we will ask you to confirm your availability, for the next appointment. If we do not hear from you within 48 hours, we may close your file.

    As our initial appointments are usually booked two weeks in advance it is important to provide us with a range of possible dates and times for several weeks into the future.

    Once you have confirmed your availability, we will arrange one further appointment in accordance with your stated availability. Due to the high demand for initial appointments, we will usually be unable to rearrange this second appointment and may signpost you to external services to better suit your needs.

    If you are offered face-to-face sessions, you can have up to 6 appointments with a counsellor in the academic year. Please note that if you miss an appointment without letting us know, or cancel your appointment with less than 24 hours notice this will count as one of the 6 appointments. The number of counselling sessions will not normally be extended. If you miss two sessions without prior notice we will close your file.

    The Samaritans operate a 24-hour telephone listening service on 116 123. You can also contact them by email: jo@samaritans.org.

    If you have questions about emailing the Samaritans, including how to email anonymously, see their email information page.

    If you need help urgently in an emergency, it may be best to contact your doctor.

  • Your consultation

  • Once we have received and assessed your online forms, we may offer you a telephone consultation appointment.

    The call should last no longer than 20 minutes. The purpose of the call is to explore your concerns and to discuss the various support options available to you.

    We ask you to prioritise this telephone call over other commitments. Our telephone slots are in high demand and re-arranging will cause delays to you getting support.

    We will call you on the telephone number that you gave on your registration form.

    We require you to be in a private and confidential space to ensure you are able to speak openly and honestly when a therapist calls. Please note, if you are driving at the time of our call we will not be able to continue the conversation and you will need to reschedule your appointment.

    If you miss your telephone or face to face consultation, you should contact us within 48 hours if you wish to re-arrange.

    Unless we hear from you within 48 hours of your appointment time, we may assume that you no longer need support and close your file.

    If you contact us within 48 hours to rearrange the appointment we will ask you to confirm your availability for the next appointment. If you do not confirm your availability within 48 hours, we may close your file. You can of course ask us to re-open your file at any point in the future if you think we can be of further assistance. When your file is re-opened after closure your request will be treated as a new referral.

    As our appointments are usually booked two weeks in advance, it is important to provide us with a range of possible dates and times for several weeks.

    Once you have confirmed your availability, we arrange one further appointment in accordance with your stated availability. Due to the high demand for appointments and initial face to face appointments, we will usually be unable to rearrange this second appointment and may signpost you to external services to better suit your needs.

    If you are offered a face-to-face counselling session, the initial appointment will be a continuation of the discussion you had at your consultation. The Face-to-Face Counsellor will check how you have been since the telephone consultation and revisit your goals for Counselling. Your counsellor may ask some questions, encourage you to say more, or make some comments, so that you can both understand the situation better. If you want to, you can ask questions about the Counselling Service and the counselling process.

    Your counsellor knows how difficult it can be to ask for help and talk about your problems, although they tend to focus more on your desired outcome and what you are doing in life that is already working for you. They won't mind if you find it hard to express your feelings, or if you cry or get angry. You are in control of the pace at which things happen.

    At the start of the session, you may be asked to fill out another set of clinical assessments (GAD-7, PHQ-9 & CORE-10). These clinical assessments help the counsellor to understand how you feel, think and cope and if anything has changed since you first contacted the Service or participated in a consultation. We also ask you to complete these measures when you finish your counselling (whether one or more sessions), and that helps us evaluate the impact of the service.

    The initial Face-to-Face appointment (and any subsequent appointments) will last for 50 minutes from your appointment time. Your counsellor must finish on time. They will still see you if you arrive a little late. However, that does reduce what can be achieved in your appointment, so please make every effort to be ready and waiting when your appointment begins.

    Our counselling service is a valuable resource, therefore, we need to operate a strict cancellation policy. This is to ensure that our resources are made available to the greatest number of students who may be able to benefit.

    • If you have to cancel your appointment, please provide us with as much notice as possible so that we can make the appointment available to another student.
    • If you cancel your appointment with less than 24 hours notice, the session will be counted as one of your allocated sessions.
    • If you fail to arrive for an appointment and do not contact us within 48 hours, we will assume that you do not require another appointment and will automatically close your file.
    • If you cancel more than two appointments with less than 24 hours notice, this may invalidate your counselling contract and we may close your file. Prior to closing your file, you may be offered an opportunity to discuss any difficulties you are having attending consistently with your counsellor.
    • If a decision is made to close your file, you can still use the service in the future if you feel it would be of benefit. If you need further support within the same academic year, just email reception on wellbeing-recpt@brookes.ac.uk to make the request. If you need further support in a different academic year, you will need to register with the service again.

    It is a good idea to arrive a few minutes early, to make sure your appointment can start on time. See contact us for information on how to find us.

    The consultation appointment is a two-way process. The counsellor will get to know you, and your concerns and hopes about counselling. You can find out what counselling has to offer. You can ask questions, if you want to, about the Counselling Service and the counselling process.

    Your counsellor knows how difficult it can be to ask for help and talk about your problems. They won't mind if you find it hard to express your feelings, or if you cry or get angry. You are in control of the pace at which things happen.

    At the end of the consultation, the following outcomes are common:


    • Your counsellor recommends self-help materials. This might be particular books, leaflets, websites or other materials.
    • Counselling is to continue. Ongoing counselling is not necessarily with the counsellor you see for your consultation, but after the consultation you will see the same counsellor for each appointment.
    • No further appointments are needed. This may be because you got what you wanted from the consultation, or because you and your counsellor decided other ways of resolving your problem would be the best option.
    • You are referred to specialised or long-term counselling. This might be in a therapeutic group or one-to-one counselling.
    • You and your counsellor agree that another source of help is more relevant, eg Centre for Academic Development, a Student Central Adviser, the Brookes Union Advice Centre, a Student Support Co-ordinator, your Academic Advisor.
    • Your counsellor gives you information about external sources of help. This might be for private therapy or counselling, specialised services, or other services.

    We evaluate our services using a number of clinical measures GAD-7, PHQ-9 & CORE 10. These measures help us understand how you feel, think and cope. You tick a box to answer each question, so it is quick to complete. You will be given the questionnaire when you start and when you end your counselling.

  • Individual counselling

  • Counselling aims to help you explore and clarify problems and issues that matter to you. It may help you develop resources and skills to cope with difficulties. It may help you get through a distressing time in your life.

    We, the counsellors, try to listen to what you are really saying, to accept you and respect your feelings. We will not tell you what to do, but we can help you make your own decisions.

    Counselling is not only about problems. It also offers opportunities to get to know yourself better and to develop your potential as a person.

    You can tell the counsellor about anything that's bothering you, however large or small you think the problem is, and whether it is related to your studies or your personal life. Experience shows that it's often best to catch a difficulty early on, before it has the chance to grow. But counselling can help even if you have reached crisis point and everything seems impossible.

    Many students find there are things they can't discuss with family or friends. Your counsellor won't be judgmental or shocked by what you tell them. They won't trivialise anything important to you. It is okay if your concern is about something that happened years ago, such as childhood abuse, or if it is about parental break-up or bereavement. It is okay if your major concern is your life now. The transition to University from school, home or work can be stressful. Many students feel lonely and homesick. You may feel worried, depressed, confused or anxious, because of work or exams, difficulties at home, a broken relationship, money problems... or for no obvious reason at all.

    Some typical questions and concerns:

    • My parents are getting a divorce...
    • I'm panicking about my presentation...
    • I've just split up with my girlfriend and I've got an exam...
    • I can't cope - sometimes I feel as if I'm going mad...
    • I feel really low and anxious these days...
    • I'm behind with my work - I can't get motivated...
    • My friends are worried that I've got an eating disorder...
    • I'm pregnant and I don't know what to do...
    • I'm worried about telling my housemates that I'm gay...
    • My Mum died last year and no one understands...
    • Sometimes I feel so desperate I want to hurt myself...

    Once you have discussed the issue(s) of concern the Counsellor will discuss the most appropriate option to help you resolve the issue in the shortest possible time. This may be referral to another internal University option, an external source of support or an option within the counselling service including face to face counselling sessions.

    Counselling sessions normally last 50 minutes. Even if you are late, the appointment must end on time. If you are delayed, however, we still suggest that you attend for your appointment.

    We offer short-term counselling. Some people have 1 or 2 sessions. Others have up to 6 appointments. It depends on your needs.

    If you require longer-term counselling, of more than 6 appointments, your counsellor will discuss the options with you for obtaining the appropriate help.

    Your counsellor will not normally give information to tutors, family, friends, doctors or anyone else without your permission. The only time a counsellor might break confidentiality is if there is a serious risk of harm to you or others, or in the rare cases where required by law. For more information, see confidentiality and records.
    If you have received 6 sessions of counselling during the current academic year and wish to have further individual counselling we will signpost you to external services.
  • About the service

  • No. Our services are free for all students currently enrolled at Oxford Brookes University.

    If we feel that counselling support outside the University would be more beneficial, you may be charged a fee for this by the service or individual you see.

    We are committed to improving the service we offer students, and to do this we need your feedback.

    You are asked to fill in three clinical (GAD-7, PHQ-9 and CORE-10) questionnaires when you start and when you end your counselling. Your responses help us learn about the effectiveness of counselling.

    We also ask you to fill in an Evaluation Survey at the end of your counselling, which helps us to know about your experiences and improve the service we offer to students. You will normally be asked to fill in this survey in your last session. If you do not wish to be contacted after you finish your counselling, please let us know.

    The Counselling team are richly experienced and well qualified team, accredited with the major professional bodies. We all work in a similar way, offering a counselling approach that draws on students’ existing competences and orient towards students’ preferred futures, with great respect for students’ own strengths and strategies.

    We collectively have experience working with bereavement, domestic violence, adoption, coaching, personal development, supporting young people and their families and disordered eating.

    We also offer placements providing supervision to experienced and outstanding trainee therapists.

    The Counselling Service works in accordance with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy, the BACP Ethical Guidelines for Researching Counselling and Psychotherapy, and are subject to the Professional Conduct Procedure. Copies of these documents are available on request from the Counselling Service.

    See Visit our registration page for information about how to register.