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UCL Student Psychological Services
I hadn't realised there was so much support out there

In this section...

is an overview of the different services we offer.

The Student Psychological Service is dedicated to helping UCL students with personal, emotional and psychological concerns. 

On this page we outline what you can expect when you seek help from us, the kinds of help available, and the cooperation we need from you.  Of course, your counsellor or therapist will also be able to answer any other questions you might have about the therapeutic process.

The Initial Consultation

Your first appointment with us is called an initial consultation.  During this appointment, you will be able to explore your concerns with one of our team and decide together which therapeutic option best meets your needs. This meeting will last up to an hour and a quarter, and where possible, will be arranged to fit in with your departmental time-table. At the end of the initial consultation, you will be given an appointment for one of our other services, put on a waiting list for the first available appointment, or referred to an external therapist or therapeutic service.

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Short-term Individual Counselling

Short-term individual counselling is appropriate for working on immediate problems, developing healthy coping techniques, gaining understanding of underlying issues and, if necessary, developing a longer-term treatment plan. It usually works best when you and your counsellor can identify a specific focus for your work together. The number of sessions you will receive will depend on the severity of your difficulties and will each last 50 minutes.

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Individual or Group Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is appropriate for working on current or past relationship difficulties and for gaining an understanding of the underlying issues which led to them being problematic. In therapy you will learn from your relationship with your therapist and/or other group members, get support and feedback as well as gain skills and new perspectives. Psychotherapy can take place on an individual or group basis. Which type you will be offered will be discussed with you at your initial consultation. The number of individual sessions will depend on the severity of your difficulties and will each last 50 minutes. Groups are facilitated by a group psychotherapist and have up to 8 members in them. They meet weekly for 90 minutes during term time.

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Individual or Group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is appropriate for working on how you think about yourself, the world and other people, and how what you do affects your feelings and thoughts. Cognitive Behavioural therapy can help you make changes in the way you think ("Cognitive") and the way you act ("Behaviour"). Making changes in what you think will affect what you do and feel, and changing what you do, will affect the way you think and feel.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can take place on an individual or group basis. Which type you will be offered will be discussed with you at your initial consultation. The number of individual sessions will depend on the severity of your difficulties and will each last up to 50 minutes. Groups are facilitated by a Cognitive Behavioural therapist, have up to 8 members in them and may focus on a specific theme such as anxiety. They may take place over several weeks for two to three hours or a full day each week.

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Psychiatric Consultation

A psychiatric consultation is appropriate if you need medical/psychiatric advice regarding your mental health concerns, or to discuss medication or a referral to an NHS service. Your initial consultation appointment might be a psychiatric consultation if it is thought that there is an underlying psychiatric problem. However, it is more usual that a psychiatric consultation would be discussed between you and your counsellor or therapist before an appointment is made to see one of our psychiatrists. 

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External Referrals

A referral to an external therapist or therapeutic service may be appropriate if your problems have existed for a long time, are particularly troubling, or require specialist care. Once you and your counsellor or therapist make a decision, it is important to follow up with the treatment plan as soon as possible to ensure the best outcome.  If you are having difficulty with the plan, please let your counsellor or therapist know.

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The Student Psychological Team

The Student Psychological Service team is diverse and consists of a variety of highly trained and experienced professionals. We currently have two psychiatrists, and ten therapists with varying kinds of psychological training and expertise. 

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Cancellations, Missed Appointments and Client Responsibilities 

Initial Consultation Appointments

Due to the high demand for appointments, priority on our waiting list takes into account the urgency of your situation and the length of time you have been waiting. An offer of an Initial Consultation will be made by e-mail. We kindly request that you respond to this e-mail promptly, within the specified time frame.

  • Provided you do this, your appointment will be confirmed.
  • If you do not respond to the Initial Consultation e-mail request within the specified time frame, it will expire, and the appointment will be offered to someone else.
  • If you do not reply to an Initial Consultation e-mail request or you do not keep a confirmed appointment - you will receive a follow-up email from the Service to ask whether you wish to remain on the waiting list. Please respond to this e-mail promptly, if you do not respond to the follow-up e-mail, your details will be removed from the waiting list, and you will be notified accordingly.
  • If you need to re-schedule or cancel a confirmed appointment, please inform the Service at least 48 hours in advance, via the contact details below. This allows us to offer cancelled sessions to other students in need of an appointment. 

Tel: 020 7679 1487 (if the call is not answered, please leave a voice message stating your name, date and time of appointment)


(Gopiha Nandagopal, Senior Executive Officer)

If you decide, at any time after you have submitted the registration form that you feel you no longer require an appointment, it would be much appreciated if you could inform the Service via the contact details above. 

On-going Counselling Sessions

Please attend all scheduled sessions and arrive promptly at your appointment time.   This is extremely important, as late or missed appointments interfere with your own treatment, and prevent us from assisting other students in need.

  • Should you need to cancel a session, please provide 48 hours notice by contacting the Service, via the contact details below, and if possible your named counsellor.

Tel: 020 7679 1487 (if the call is not answered, please leave a voice message stating your name, date and time of appointment)


(Gopiha Nandagopal, Senior Executive Officer)

  • If you miss your appointment, you will receive an email offering you another appointment. A time frame will be specified for response.
  • If you do not respond within the time frame specified, the appointment will be offered to someone else, and a follow-up e-mail will be sent to you, to ask whether you wish to continue with your counselling sessions.
  • We cannot guarantee future appointments to students who repeatedly miss appointments, or fail to cancel appropriately.  

Late Arrival for Appointments 

  • Please notify the Service if you are going to be late.
  • If you arrive late for an appointment, it will still finish at the scheduled time. If you are more than 15 minutes late, your session may not take place.

The Student Psychological Services is a valuable resource for all students at UCL, we kindly request your co-operation in ensuring that the Service is run efficiently. 

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There is no cost to UCL students for treatment at the Student Psychological Service.  However, there may be costs involved in your recommended aftercare plan. You and your counsellor or therapist can discuss any financial implications during your initial consultation.

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Students who come to the Student Psychological Service often have concerns about the private information they share with a counsellor or therapist. Everything you put in your Registration Form as well as what you say to your counsellor or therapist is confidential within the service. This means that while all counsellors and therapists attend supervision and staff meetings where they may discuss their work, these procedures are also bound by confidentiality. Your counsellor or therapist will not communicate with anyone in or outside the university about you unless it is with your explicit permission. You and your counsellor or therapist may agree to speak to your GP in the event your GP can be helpful in your treatment process.  The only circumstance under which information might be shared without your explicit permission is in the event that the counsellor or therapist believes you are in danger of harming yourself or others. Even in these circumstances, we would normally seek to speak to you first before contacting anyone else.

Your personal details and sessional notes are stored on computer for the sole use of service staff. All records are strictly confidential and are kept securely. If you have queries about any aspect of confidentiality and/or record keeping, please discuss this with your counsellor or therapist.  The Student Psychological Service adheres to the code of ethics set forth by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (

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If you feel dissatisfied with your therapeutic experience at the Student Psychological Services the first step is to discuss this with your counsellor or therapist and try to work out a solution. If after this you are not satisfied, please contact Catherine McAteer, Head of Service, or Barry Keane, Deputy Head of Service, to discuss your concern.

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Other Resources


If you think your concerns need to be addressed before your appointment at the Student Psychological Service, please discuss with your GP. 

Emergency Support:

For support during an immediate crisis, the following webpage  has information that you may find helpful.

Student Psychological Services Library: 

If you are interested in doing some reading, the Student Psychological Service has a well-stocked library of self-help books which address many common student issues.  Any UCL student can borrow from this library. Link


Finally, the Student Psychological Service maintains a website that offers online self-help information for common student problems such as exam anxiety, procrastination, concentration, etc. The website is at

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Statement of Service Standards

Staff qualifications:
All staff are qualified counsellors, psychotherapists, psychiatrists or counselling psychologists, registered with UKCP, or BCP, GMC, BACP, BPS, BCP and are covered by professional indemnity insurance. Honorary counsellors with appropriate clinical experience may also contribute to the services, when a senior member of the Service will supervise them.

Continuing Professional Development:
All staff are expected to keep up-to-date with developments in student counselling and therapy.

No information regarding a student’s contact with the Service will be released to family, other university staff, medical staff or anyone else, without the student’s prior consent, unless exceptional circumstances prevail, such as a student being at risk of harm, or at risk of harming another person.

Self-referral is preferred and encouraged. However, with the student’s agreement, referrals are also accepted from other sources, such as via the students tutor or general practitioner. 

Making an Initial Consultation Appointment:

In order to organise an appointment the student needs to first register with the Service. This involves completing an on-line registration form which can be obtained via our website. Link. On receipt of this form, one of our senior therapists will read it in order to determine how soon the student should be seen and who they should see for their initial consultation.

An appointment for an Initial Consultation will then be offered by email, and you will be asked to confirm whether you are able to attend, within a specified time frame.

Waiting Time: 

The waiting time for an initial consultation appointment can vary according to the level of demand for appointments faced by the Service. During peak times, your details will be placed on a waiting list until an appointment becomes available.

The student may be given an appointment for one of our services immediately after this appointment, be put on a waiting list for the first available appointment or referred to an external therapist or therapeutic organisation.  

We try our best to accommodate personal and academic commitments, but the more flexible you can be in terms of availability, the more likely you are to be seen promptly.

Type and length of treatment:

The type and length of treatment offered to students will depend on their problem, how long it has existed and how severe it is. The student may be offered individual counselling, individual or group psychotherapy, individual or group cognitive behavioural therapy, on-line cognitive behavioural therapy, psychiatric support or a place on one of our personal development workshops.


Self-help books on a range of topics relevant to student life is available for short-term loan to all UCL students. Link

Student Psychological Services Green Statement

The Student  Psychological Services is committed to sustainable, ethical practice We support the three ‘R’s of reduce, reuse and recycle in order to have a local, national, and global impact.   We encourage visitors to the service to help us in reaching this aim by reducing the use of paper, electricity and printing when in this department.

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The Samaritans offer the following Services:

- Face to face support

-24/7 free phone helpline, 365 days a year

- E-mail service

- Text-phone service

Find out more