Working with health professionals
The Counselling Service welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with doctors and health professionals to look after the wellbeing of University of Oxford students.
The Service appreciates referrals and roughly a quarter of students report that they have been referred by their GP or other health professionals. The Service is happy to hear from you by telephone, but if there is significant background or history you would like to pass on, or if you have a view about what in particular the student might need, please provide a referral email or letter with information about what help the student might need from the Service. If you think a particular type of counselling might be appropriate this will help inform the Service's thinking about what to offer the student. However, it is not generally useful for you to indicate your preferred model of therapy to the student.
During an initial assessment of a student’s situation, the Service sometimes finds that their difficulties are broader than the particular symptom they have described to you and a different approach is warranted. If you have recommended a specific therapeutic model the student can be puzzled, angry or can believe that the counsellor and doctor are working against each other. Having taken your view and the content of the first session into account, the Service’s multi-disciplinary team will ensure that the student gets what he or she needs, whether that is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, a more developmental approach or a combination of the two.
Wherever possible the student should be encouraged to book an appointment themselves. This invites them to take ownership of the process and avoids difficulties which can arise from a feeling of being ‘sent’ for counselling by someone else. An indication from you that you have suggested to the student that they make an appointment is also welcome where appropriate. There may be special circumstances in which you feel you need to make the contact on a student’s behalf. If this is the case, please get in touch to agree the best way forward.
The Counselling Service has access to a medical consultant (psychiatrist). The psychiatrist acts primarily as a consultant to members of the counselling staff, and undertakes psychiatric assessments of students at counselling staff request.
As this is a limited resource, it is not possible for the Service psychiatrist to accept referrals from outside the Counselling Service. If you have a student/patient who urgently requires psychiatric assessment, please make a referral within the NHS.
Where the Counselling Service psychiatrist has seen a student for assessment and believes ongoing psychiatric treatment is appropriate, the student’s doctor will be informed with a recommended referral to the NHS.
Support for students diagnosed with mental illness
The focus of the Counselling Service is to bring about therapeutic change and often works in tandem with NHS colleagues who have referred students with long-standing mental illnesses.
The Service also works closely with the Disability Advisory Service to offer a mentoring scheme, staffed by psychologists, psychotherapists and counsellors, that provide regular support for students with severe and enduring mental health problems so that they can function well at university and achieve their full academic potential. See the Guide to Specialist Mentoring Support. If you have a patient who could benefit from this kind of support, contact the Disability Advisory Service.