After you’ve registered

Now that you’ve registered, there are various pathways to support. In all cases, we’ll provide the support that best suits your needs.

On this page:

Your initial consultation

What to expect

Once you’ve registered, you will be invited to come in for an initial consultation. This will be a chance for you to discuss and explore your concerns and experiences with one of our counsellors. The initial consultation can last up to 75 minutes.

Once our counsellor has a better understanding of your situation, they can then provide you with a range of therapeutic options that would be most suitable for you. Together, you can decide on which option best meets your needs. Therapeutic options they may suggest include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic counselling, psychiatric consultation or workshops.

Find out more about the types of therapeutic support we offer. 

The invite to attend your initial consultation will be sent to the email address you provided when registering. In this email, you will be asked to confirm your attendance within the time frame outlined in the email. 

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.

Counselling sessions

After your initial consultation, most students will move on to receive counselling.

What to expect

Our counselling team are all fully qualified, accredited and experienced counsellors from a range of backgrounds.

The number of sessions you will receive will depend on your circumstances, but SPCS usually offers students up to 6 free counselling sessions. This will be in the form of either cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or psychodynamic therapy.

Each session will last 50 minutes and after your initial consultation, going forward, you and your counsellor will arrange your appointments.

A referral to an external therapist or therapeutic service may be appropriate if your problems have existed for a long time, are particularly complex, or require specialist care. Our counsellors can help you find suitable external practitioners and support you during that process. Once you and your counsellor makes a decision, it is important to follow up with the treatment plan as soon as possible to ensure the best outcome. If you have difficulty with the plan, please let your counsellor know.

Ensuring confidentiality for online support

If you choose to access support through SSW online, the tips below may help to ensure confidentially in the space you are in:

  • Have the call or video consultation in a place where it's unlikely that others will overhear your conversation. Where possible, use written text if this is difficult to ensure.
  • Use headphones instead of having the call audio coming out of laptop/PC speakers to prevent people being able to overhear the responses from the person you are speaking to.
  • If you want to talk about someone who may hear the conversation, it is advisable to change their name and let the person you are speaking to know you are doing this through text, so you can speak freely.
  • Do not print any text from your online consultation but instead save it to a secure document on your device to limit the chances of others viewing it.

Types of counselling

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

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.

Psychodynamic counselling

The aim of psychodynamic counselling is to bring the unconscious mind into consciousness - helping individuals to unravel, experience and understand their true feelings in order to resolve them. The thinking behind psychodynamic counselling, is that our unconscious holds onto painful feelings and memories, which are too difficult for the conscious mind to process. Primarily used to treat depression, psychodynamic therapy can be particularly beneficial for those who have lost meaning in their lives or have difficulty forming or maintaining personal relationships.

Single session therapy

In single-session therapy, we work in a focused way to help you deal with your most pressing concern in one session. At the end of the session you often leave with a plan to implement what you have learned in the session.

Please be aware that we are unable to provide you with an Extenuating Circumstances letter after your single session appointment. Should you require this, please do contact your GP. 

Other services we provide

Psychiatric consultations

A psychiatric consultation is appropriate if you need medical or psychiatric advice regarding your mental health concerns, or to discuss medication or a referral to an NHS service.

Your initial consultation might be a psychiatric consultation if we feel this is appropriate when we assess your registration.

However, in most cases a student will first be receiving counselling, and a psychiatric consultation would be discussed between you and your counsellor before an appointment is made to see one of our psychiatrists.


SPCS also provides personal development workshops based on demand.

Workshops cover a range of topics including assertiveness, confidence building, overcoming procrastination and mindfulness meditation.

Find out more about our workshops.

What to do whilst waiting for counselling

If you’ve been given a date for your initial consultation and still wish to speak to someone in the meantime, we recommend that you make an appointment with your GP.

Find out more about registering with a GP.

You can also call the UCL 24/7 Student Support Line to speak to an adviser over the phone on +44 (0) 808 238 0077. This free, confidential service is available 24 hours a day,7 days a week, 365 days a year, in 35+ languages including sign.

UCL 24/7 Student Support Line is offered as part of three ways you can access support services:

  1. Go online through askUCL
  2. Visit the walk-in UCL Student Enquiries Centre
  3. Call the UCL 24/7 Student Support Line

Find out more about the UCL 24/7 Student Support Line.

You can also access our online resources, which may be helpful before your initial consultation. These include our self-help library, a catalogue of free online books on a wide range of topics to support emotional and personal issues.

Visit our online resources.

Outside of SPCS, there is a wide array of counselling options available to you at little or no extra cost. You may want to explore some of these support options as an alternative.

Find out more about external counselling options.

If you feel you are in a crisis situation (if you are worried about keeping yourself safe in the immediate future) then you should call 999 to request an ambulance or visit your closest Accident and Emergency (A&E). UCLH has the nearest A&E department to UCL’s main campus.

Find out more about what to do in a crisis.

Find your nearest A&E department.

Requesting to change therapist

In the rare event that you feel that the theraputic relationship between you and your consellor is not working for you, then please get in touch with us and we can discuss this with you. 

Get in touch with us.

In the rare event that you feel that the therapeutic relationship between you and your counsellor is not working for you, then please get in touch with us and we can discuss this with you.

Get in contact with us.