Accessing counselling

Student Psychological and Counselling Services (SPCS) can provide a variety of free counselling, therapy and support options. Find out more about our service.

On this page:

Is counselling for me?

Please read through all the information below very carefully. Once you have read through everything, can you can register with Student Psychological and Counselling Services (SPCS) via the blue box below.

Counselling is a talking therapy that involves a trained counsellor listening to you and helping you find ways to deal with emotional issues. Counselling can be for anyone who has experienced or is experiencing personal, emotional and psychological concerns.

Our counselling service is separate from the appointments run by UCL Student Support and Wellbeing’s Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing team (appointments are better for short enquiries, signposting and initial supportive conversations with an adviser). 

Counselling through SPCS can help you manage the following:

  • A mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety
  • The emotional impact of physical health problems
  • The emotional impact of difficult life events, such as bereavement or a relationship breakdown
  • Difficult emotions, such as anger or guilt
  • Other topics, such as low self-esteem or sexual identity

Counselling through SPCS is not the correct support route for you if:

If you are concerned about any of the above conditions or have been diagnosed with one of the above, you can contact SPCS where one of our counsellors and/or psychiatrists in the Team can discuss with you your diagnosis and specialist support available.

Please note that the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing (DMHW) team at UCL can provide diagnoses for some SpLDs.

If you are unsure whether you should have counselling, we recommend you first come to an appointment with the Disability, Mental Health and Wellbeing (DMHW) team to discuss your options before you register with SPCS.

Who we can support

SPCS is here to provide support for any and all students who are experiencing personal, emotional or psychological concerns.

These may be impacting your time here at UCL and accessing our time-limited support services can help you to realise your full academic and personal potential.

We can help you with difficulties that may or may not be related to study.

Our service is open to all our students, from all departments, at all levels, from all nationalities and backgrounds.

What we can provide

Our team of professionally accredited counsellors can provide the following:

  • free short-term individual counselling
    • cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
    • psychodynamic counselling
  • free single session therapy
  • free psychiatric consultations and some diagnoses
  • free workshops
  • free signposting to external services

Find out more about the types of counselling we offer. 

SPCS usually offers students up to 6 free sessions of CBT or psychodynamic counselling but this may vary depending on your individual circumstances.

The service we provide is strictly confidential. That means that any information you provide to us, whether in your registration form or face-to-face with a counsellor, will not be shared outside our service unless you provide explicit permission to do so. You may agree with your counsellor to share information with your GP in the event that your GP may be helpful in your treatment process but you can discuss this with your counsellor.
The only circumstance where we might share your information without your explicit consent is in the event that your counsellor believes you are in danger of harming yourself or others. Even in this circumstance, we would normally seek to speak to you first before contacting anyone else.
If you have any questions about confidentiality, please contact us.

How to register

In order to register with our service, you’ll simply need to fill in our registration form linked below. This should only take around 10 minutes.

The registration form asks various questions about your programme, your background, your current circumstances and your medical history. All this information is important, as it allows us to provide the best possible support to meet your needs.

Students can request a BAME (black, Asian or minority ethnic) male or female counsellor on their registration form. Please be aware that this might mean a slightly longer wait time

Once you’ve registered, you’ll immediately receive an acknowledgement email, which will also outline the support you can access whilst you wait to see a counsellor.

Every registration is screened within 24 working hours and those students who are most vulnerable are contacted personally by one of our counsellors straight away.

Register here

Other sources of support

If your individual circumstances match any of those outlined below, you can also access support outside of SPCS through one of the following external services:

PhD students

PhD students have access to the Employee Assitance Programme: Staff Support Service, which is delivered via our Workplace Health team. Their team of counsellors can help you address a range of emotional and psychological difficulties.

Find out more about the Employee Assistance Programme: Staff Support Service.

Students who have experienced sexual violence

Students who have experienced sexual violence can access support from Rape Crisis or SurvivorsUK. They will provide you with relevant support and guidance to help you make the next steps.

Full information is available on the UCL Report + Support website.

Visit the Report + Support website.

Long-term or open-ended psychological treatment

If you don’t know whether this is what you require, register with us and we can talk you through the options at the initial consultation. If this is what you need, there is support available from other organisations at little to no-cost.

Your GP

In order to register with SPCS, you’ll need to provide your GP details. This allows us to provide joined-up support and make sure you can get the help you need.

We strongly recommend that you make an appointment with your GP to discuss counselling options through the NHS as well – there are times when NHS counselling may be faster or more appropriate.

Your GP can refer you to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services in the local area – such as iCope in Camden and Islington. These offer counselling for issues such as anxiety and depression.

Your GP can help you get a diagnosis for mental health conditions like depression and anxiety as well as other health conditions. They can also make referrals for assessments of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Find out more about registering with a GP

Waiting times for counselling

All students are triaged within 24 hours of registering with SPCS. During triaging, if we feel you may be at higher risk, we will contact you by phone, email and/or text.

Our current waiting time for an initial appointment after registering is two to three weeks. If we feel you are at higher risk, you will be prioritised and seen sooner.