There are many benefits to working in a therapeutic relationship with a professional counsellor on an individual basis. It can be a relief to tell someone who is impartial about difficulties you have struggled with on your own. You may have a longstanding concern, be encountering new difficulties, or simply have a sense that something isn’t right.
What to expect from counselling
A professional can help to normalise your experience and place it in context, bring objectivity, critical distance, and experience of dealing with problems of all kinds. This often leads to seeing a problem in a new way, and feeling more able to get to grips with it.
The experience of counselling will begin with a single session in which you and your counsellor work together to make sense of your experience, to conceptualise your problems in new ways, and to think together about how you might move forward. Some problems are of a more complex and/ or long standing kind and meeting for further sessions may be appropriate, but the aim will be to always keep counselling as efficient and focussed as possible.
Short term work has evidence-based support that for a large number of people, particularly those in the student age-group, it is an effective way of working. It is most common to have counselling sessions in consecutive weeks. However, you may find that it is useful to space sessions more widely to enable you to test out new ways of thinking and doing things in between. Short term work can be beneficial due to the relative brevity of the Oxford term.
- The Service sees between 11% and 12% of the student population per academic year.
Your counsellor can also help to identify where short term psycho-educational workshops, group counselling and/ or self-help resources may have a role to play – however, these will not be relevant for everyone.
About the team
Counselling Service staff are professionally trained and widely experienced female and male counsellors, psychotherapists, clinical and counselling psychologists and a psychiatrist, all of whom are accustomed to helping people from many different backgrounds and cultures, and with a wide range of issues. The team has expertise in fields including psychodynamic counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and group work and work in line with the Ethical Framework for Good Practice produced by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Counselling Service staff are accredited members of various institutions depending on their training and theoretical orientations including British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), British Psychological Society (BPS), Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
Issues brought to counselling
The Counselling Service is here to help you address personal or emotional problems which may impact your time at Oxford and help you realise your full academic and personal potential through a talking therapy. You can bring difficulties which may or may not be related to study.
You may have a long-standing problem or concern you feel you need to get to grips with, or you may be encountering new difficulties here at Oxford – perhaps struggling to establish an identity, to make relationships or to cope with academic expectations. You may be struggling with a specific, well-defined problem, or you may not have any idea what the problem is but just have a sense that something isn’t right. The Counselling Service is there for you whatever your situation.
Please note that you are eligible to refer yourself to, and use, the Counselling Service during a period of suspension. If you are already engaged with the Counselling Service at a time when you suspend you can continue with your counselling until an appropriately agreed ending.
It can be most useful to have contact with the Counselling Service at the point when you are suspending to work out how you can be best supported over the period of suspension. This can help you address such issues as finding appropriate therapeutic or medical support back at your home. It may also be helpful to access the Service before you return to your studies to help you re-engage with your academic work and college life.
If you access the Service during your period of suspension you will be offered the same level of therapeutic support as all other students. The Counselling Service offers brief and focussed therapeutic interventions. This can be negotiated with the clinician you are working with to decide how the Service can best support you. If you need longer or more specialised therapeutic treatments to help you address psychological difficulties then you will need to be referred to the appropriate NHS medical, psychological or psychiatric services.