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UCL Student Psychological Services
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In this section...

You can find answers to our most frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Coming to university can be an exciting and rewarding time. However, it can also be a time of change and stress. This may lead to difficulties and dilemmas which affect your academic performance or social life. The Student Psychological Service is one of the university’s support services which are here to help. 

There are a number of ways in which we can help. These include:
  • The provision of a library of self-help books to assist you to deal with common student difficulties, such as procrastination, exam stress, low self-esteem, etc.
  • A one-off consultation session with a therapist to help you identify your emotional/psychological difficulties and decide how best to address them.
  • A short course of time-limited psycho-dynamic counselling, time-limited cognitive behavioural therapy, or a personal development workshop to help you deal with issues of immediate concern.
  • A psychiatric consultation to assess your current mental health and to determine whether you are developing a mental illness or whether an existing mental illness is deteriorating.
  • A referral to other support services that can assist you in ways we cannot.
If your difficulties are student related we can help you by referring you to one of our personal development workshops or by offering you time -limited counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy. However, if your difficulties require specialist, intensive, or on-going treatment, we are not set up to provide this kind of support.

Specialist mental health services such as those provided by an eating disorders unit, in-patient treatment centre or community mental health team, are available through the National Health Service and are free to those students who have lived in the UK for more than 6 months. Having said this, it is important to note that specialist treatment services are limited and their availability can depend on where you live. It is also likely that you will have to wait up to 4 months for an assessment and a further 6 to 8 months for treatment. It is therefore essential that your general practitioner and/or any mental health professional supporting you puts in place the support you need before you come to UCL.

Free intensive or on-going therapy is also limited and its availability may depend on where you live. Therefore, if you know you will need specialist, intensive or on-going treatment while you are studying at UCL, it may be necessary to take into account that you may have to pay for such treatment, the cost of which will depend on what type of treatment you need and how often you will need to see the specialist or therapist. It may also be advisable to see what medical insurance options are available to pay for your treatment before coming to UCL.
If you think you will need psychological support when studying or working while you are away from UCL, it is advisable to look into what is available in the locality you are going to, how long you will have to wait to receive help and whether it is free or not.

For information on psychological support available at our partner universities, please contact the Study Abroad department at; www.ucl.ac.uk/studyabroad. For information on how to find a private counsellor or therapist in the UK, please contact the United Kingdom Council for psychotherapy at www.psychotherapy.org.uk

No, we cannot provide you with psychological support if you interrupt your studies. This is because you are not registered as a UCL student during the period of interruption. If you do need psychological support at this time, it is advisable to find out what psychological services are available in your locality.
No. Time-limited individual and group psychological support is available free of charge to current under-graduate and post-graduate students as part of the support system at UCL in order to help you make the most of your time at university.
You can register online for an initial consultation appointment. Your registration form will be read by one of our therapists who will decide the best person for you to see. Our administrator will then arrange your appointment and you will be sent an e-mail in which you have the choice of “Confirming your attendance at this appointment”, “Rescheduling it to another date and time” or “withdrawing your registration form” altogether.

NB: It is important to respond to this e-mail promptly as the appointment offer will expire within 48 hours of the e-mail being sent.

When you confirm your attendance at this appointment you will receive another e-mail, which, if you click on its attachment, will enable you to transfer the appointment into your “Outlook” diary.
There are two possible reasons as to why you may not have received a confirmation e-mail from us after having submitted your registration form online. Firstly, the confirmation e-mail is sent from our generic e-mail address which is spsadmin@ucl.ac.uk . If you have specified your personal e-mail address (i.e. yahoo, hotmail, gmail etc.) as your preferred form of e-mail contact, the confirmation e-mail may have been received in your spam/junk folder. If you have specified that we contact you via your personal e-mail address, please add spsadmin@ucl.ac.uk to your contacts, so that you receive e-mails and appointment requests in your inbox.

Another reason why you may not have received a confirmation e-mail could be due to an error whilst completing and submitting the form. We would suggest that before attempting to register again online, you contact our administrator at g.nandagopal@ucl.ac.uk to check whether or not we have received your registration form.
In order to enable us to offer your cancelled appointments to those students on our waiting list, we ask you to give us 48 hours’ notice of cancelling any appointment. We will then try to arrange another appointment for you as soon as possible. However, as the demand on the service is extremely high, this could be several weeks ahead. Find out more about our our Cancellations and Missed Appointments policy.
If you do not attend your appointment, we will e-mail you asking if you would like us to arrange another appointment, giving you a deadline by which you have to reply to this e-mail. If you do not reply by the deadline, you will be withdrawn from our waiting list and will have to reregister in order to arrange another appointment. However, as the demand on our service is extremely high, this could be several months ahead. Find out more about our our Cancellations and Missed Appointments policy.
The therapist you meet at your initial consultation will help you explore your emotional and/or psychological difficulties and identify the best course of action to address them. This might be a referral:

  • To one of our personal development groups.
  • To one of our therapists for a course of time-limited psycho-dynamic counselling or Cognitive behavioural therapy.
  • To one of our psychiatrists for a psychiatric assessment.
  • To another external therapeutic service that can better meet your needs.
It is difficult to say how long you will have to wait for your on-going psychological support after your initial appointment. This depends on a number of factors, such as the demand on the service at the time of your referral; the urgency of your difficulties and the stage you are at on your course. However, if you are finding the wait for your first on-going appointment too difficult to manage, please do not hesitate to contact our administrator at g.nandagopal@ucl.ac.uk and we will see what we can do to help.
There are a number of things you can do while you are waiting for your appointment:

  • Borrow one of our self-help books from the UCL Library .
  • Look up the information on our support pages to begin thinking about your difficulties and how you might address them.
  • Talk to a fellow student at Nightline on Tel: 0207 631 0101
  • Talk to the Samaritans on Tel: 08457 90 90 90
  • Visit one of the drop in sessions at the Gower Place General practice located at 3 Gower Place, London, WC1E 6BN.

    Walk in Surgery Times:
    Monday – Friday

    9.30am to 10.30am

    2.30pm to 3.30pm
  • Visit your local Accident and Emergency department if you feel at risk of harming yourself.
You can talk to your counsellor/therapist about anything that is troubling you or causing you emotional/psychological distress.
Yes, but only if you are in treatment with them. Your therapist/counsellor will not be able to write a letter of support if they have only met you once at your initial consultation appointment because they will not know you well enough to say anything with authority about your circumstances.
Just try to say whatever is on your mind and how you feel about it. Sometimes there is silence; sometimes you might find yourself saying things you had not expected to say. The sessions are long enough for you to return to the different areas until you are happy that you have expressed what you are really thinking and feeling.
Counsellors and therapists don't give advice, since the purpose of psychological support is to help you make your own choices and decisions. The therapist will never make a moral decision about the course of action you ought to take. They may sum up what they understand you have been saying in order to help you move on and form a plan of action.
No. Counselling and therapy is based on the belief that most of us naturally strive to make the best use of ourselves and our circumstances. When something goes wrong, it is usually because we are pushing ourselves too hard, because we are in a muddle for reasons we don't fully understand, or because we are actually suffering some form of mental distress which is distorting our view of reality. We therefore do not judge you, but rather try to understand and support you.
No. Many people think that they are being strong in not seeking help whereas in fact those who can admit to their difficulties could be considered the strong ones. Seeking psychological support often means you have taken the first step on the road to resolving the problem.
It is natural to want to be successful and to feel shame when things go wrong in our lives. It is not uncommon to feel reluctant to talk about our problems. This is one of the reasons we place a great emphasis on confidentiality.
Our counsellors and therapists work to a strict Code of Ethics which means they must inform you of the limits of confidentiality and then stick to these.
Everything you say is kept confidential within the Student Psychological Service unless there is clear evidence that you are at risk of harming yourself or someone else.
Students generally find the level of confidentiality more than adequate. If your therapist speaks to others, it will usually be with your consent, i.e., to support you in an application for extenuating circumstances. Disclosures made without your consent are extremely rare and are usually because you or others are at risk of harm. However, if you are worried about the implications of any breach of confidentiality you may wish to:

    Speak to a counsellor in general terms first in order to see how their Code of Ethics may apply to your particular situation. Get yourself anonymous help through a telephone help-line, i.e., Nightline or Samaritans.
No, but it seems to offer at least some help to the majority so is worth a try. Your counsellor or therapist will check if talking is helpful - and if not will help you look for something else.
Let us know your preference when you register with us and we will see what we can do.
Very possibly. Having problems is part of being human. Many therapists come into the work because of their experience of successfully resolving personal problems through therapy. All will have had their own experience of being a client. Therefore, although the counsellor may not have experienced the particular problem which you bring, they will all have had experience of being in distress and of seeking therapeutic help from another person.
Of course there are other ways you can help yourself. Counselling/therapy is just one way. However, it doesn't need to be an either/or situation. Therapy is a resource for when you need extra help.
Many of the reasons that make counselling and therapy effective also apply to talking to friends. Therefore, a talk with a friend may well be helpful and your counsellor/therapist may encourage you to use your social support network as part of the solution. However there are some drawbacks to using friends as your only confidants and support.

    Friends might feel a conflict of loyalty and find it hard to keep things confidential. Friends might become upset themselves by what you are telling them. Friends might be put out if you don't accept their advice. If you need lots of help friends might begin to feel resentful and you might feel guilty. Counsellors and therapists have had training and have formal support at work which helps them to deal with upsetting and difficult situations. Friends may begin to feel overburdened, especially if they have their own problems too. Finally, sometimes we need slightly more specialist help than friends can provide.
Alcohol is very useful for enhancing a positive mood or a pleasant occasion. Sometimes a drink might seem to revive flagging spirits and help you relax, but alcohol ultimately doesn't solve anything and might even make matters worse because of its tendency to cause depression and other problems.
No. Seeing a counsellor or therapist doesn't mean you are ill. However, where there are symptoms of an illness, such as depression or anxiety, therapy can be helpful. Your therapist will not treat you as a sick person, but rather as someone going through a bad time.
No, counselling and therapy are different from psychiatry. Psychiatrists have a medical background and can assess whether or not you have a recognised clinical condition. If so, they can organise the best treatment and support for that condition, which could involve specialist therapy with or without help from medication. Your psychiatrist may continue to support you while you are receiving this therapy in order to review how you are doing and may also liaise with your therapist if this is thought to be helpful.




















Christmas Closure

Please note that the Student Psychological Services will be closed over the Christmas break from 5pm on Tuesday the 23rd of December 2014, and will re-open as usual from 10am on Monday the 5th of January 2015. Registrations forms received during this period will not be reviewed until the morning of Monday the 5th of January 2015.

Should you require support during this period, please refer to the Emergency Links section above.

Study Abroad

If you are a student currently abroad and you require emergency assistance please contact your travel insurance provider on the emergency number + 44 (0) 1273 400 850. For helpful information to assist you while you are abroad visit the Study Abroad website.

Halls of Residence

Students staying in UCL halls of residence will be able to follow the usual lines and communications for support over Christmas. There will be a duty member of staff on call every day if you need any assistance, your hall noticeboard will have their contact details.

Things To Do Over Christmas

There are plenty of volunteering opportunities for students over the Christmas period so don’t feel isolated, get out and get involved. Visit the Volunteering Services Unit (VSU) website at http://uclu.org/services/volunteering-at-uclu/one-off-volunteering-programme for more information.

For details of the activities organised by UCLU visit the UCLU website.

International Students House is a charity dedicated to British and International Students in London. They have lots of events on over Christmas, including Christmas Lunch on Christmas Day. You can find information about all of their events on the ISH Events page.

There is a special Gala Christmas Lunch and afternoon of entertainment at the Marchmont Community Centre hosted for the centre’s Older People’s Group, volunteers and support staff. Visit the Volunteering Services Unit (VSU) webpages for more information.

You can also volunteer with Crisis over the Christmas period. For more information visit their volunteering page.