Counselling - frequently asked questions
Many people have questions to ask about counselling. If you come for counselling you may, of course, ask your counsellor about the things you need to know. However, to save time, some frequently-asked questions and their answers are listed below.
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- What is counselling - how does it work?
- What kind of problem can I bring to counselling?
- So can my counsellor deal with every kind of problem?
- Does it matter if I am not sure whether I ought to be seeing a counsellor?
- Will my counsellor discuss me with my personal tutor?
- When might my counsellor tell someone something about me?
- Will it go on my records that I have had counselling?
- Should I see a counsellor who is the same gender as me?
- How much will I have to pay?
- How many sessions will I need?
- What if I cannot come for (have to miss) an appointment?
- What if I need to talk to someone at night?
Counselling is having the opportunity to talk to a trained professional about your problems.
To explain how it works in a few words is difficult, but just think about riding a bicycle. Most of us are capable of going through life fairly well balanced. Occasionally, especially after an incident that shakes our self-assurance, we lose our balance and need a bit of additional support. Often this comes from our close friends or family, but sometimes we need something more.
Counsellors offer a bit of extra support at a time of low, or lost, self-confidence. Like trainer wheels for a bicycle, counselling is both specially designed for the task and temporary.
In counselling you can look at a variety of issues. In general, these would be things that are causing you concern about your emotional state. It might be a recent event, or something from the past that is affecting you. Sometimes people are unsure about the cause of their concern or even do not know exactly why they are unhappy.
Some of the most common things that people come to counselling to address are: Emotional difficulties, perhaps arising from trouble with a partner, or with another student or parents.
Sexual problems, as well as difficulties with sexuality .
Bereavement - the death of a friend or relative.
Difficulties with work, including loss of motivation.
Being away from home, loneliness.
No, there are some matters that are best handled by experts in that particular area. For example, problems with money or concerns about careers are better dealt with by going to see the Students' Advisors and the Careers Service, respectively.
No, not at all. Drop in and discuss with us, and if your problem lies outside our area of expertise, we will put you in touch with the right people for you to see.
Absolutely not. Your counsellor will not pass on anything to your tutors, to the Head of your department, to your parents, to the Director of Student Support, to other counsellors in the Student Counselling Service or to your best friends - unless you specifically ask her/him to do so.
There are three different answers to this question -
1. At your specific request.
Sometimes a student asks to have some information passed on to someone else, and a counsellor may help with this. For example, a student may be very deeply upset over the death of a close relative and worried that this will affect exam performance. It may be easier for the counsellor to pass on the information to the student's Head of Department.
Also, it may be a requirement of the Board of Examiners that this kind of information come from an "official" source, if it is to be taken into consideration when calculating exam marks, or making decisions about progression. Counsellors will, at a student's request, write such official letters, to show that a student has been having counselling.
2. When someone is at risk of actual harm
A counsellor will normally seek to obtain permission from you to contact someone if you give the counsellor information which suggests that you, or another person, is at risk of actual harm. If circumstances permit we would try to contact you to discuss things, ideally obtain your agreement, and make you aware of what is happening before breaking confidentiality. On very rare occasions there may be an emergency situation where it is not possible or appropriate to seek your permission before such a disclosure in order to safeguard another.
3. When legally required to disclose
Exceptionally the Counselling Staff may be required by law to disclose information, such as in the case of a Witness Summons. Where possible and appropriate we would try to contact you to discuss things and make you aware of what is happening before breaking confidentiality in the public interest.
4. In supervision
As a requirement of their profession, all counsellors have supervision. They discuss their work with their supervisor. Supervisors are required to maintain the confidentiality, and, since the supervision is focussed on the work of the counsellor, she or he does not have to identify you to their supervisor.
No, not on your records, your degree transcript or anywhere else. No-one (including your friends, your lecturers, your parents or your employers) will ever be able to find out that you are having counselling, or have had counselling, unless you choose to tell them.
Even if someone phones up the Counselling Service to ask whether a particular student is seeing a counsellor, they will not be given this information. The one exception to this is, of course, if you have given express permission for that information to be passed on to specific people.
Counselling is about you, not about the counsellor, so really the counsellor's gender is not significant. However, if you do have a particular preference, we have male and female counsellors, so do tell us when you make your first appointment.
Nothing - if you are a student at Cardiff University and use the Counselling Service. If you have to seek a counsellor in the private sector (for example, if you are not a student at Cardiff University) you will be charged between £20 and £80 a session. The average is currently around £40 a session. You can easily find a private counsellor in your area - British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
That rather depends. In order that no-one has to be kept on a waiting list too long, we offer short-term work; what is called Solution Focused Brief Therapy.
If you miss an appointment without letting us know in advance, please contact the Service within 48 hours of the missed appointment and we will try to re-arrange an appointment for you. If we do not hear from you within this period we will assume you no longer wish to see a counsellor and your time will be reallocated. If you subsequently decide that you still need counselling, you will need to complete a student Self-Referral Questionnaire.
Telephone Nightline on (029) 2087 0555 between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.