Information for Staff
Which students are entitled to receive counselling?
All students following a course at the University of Portsmouth are welcome to use the Counselling Service. The information below is provided to help staff decide whether counselling would be an appropriate source of support for students with whom they are connected.
When might it be appropriate to refer a student for counselling?
We know that tutors and support staff are often the first point of contact for students experiencing personal or academic difficulties. It is often useful for students to think with staff about all the options for support available to them in order to work out which might prove most helpful. There is guidance for this in our What we do page. For some counselling may seem like the most appropriate support and people come to counselling for a whole variety of reasons: they may be feeling stressed, anxious or depressed; they may feel they are stuck in old patterns of behaviour or thinking, which they would like to change; they might just want to understand themselves better so they can benefit fully from their university experience.
Can a member of staff make the appointment?
We welcome any encouragement a member of staff can give a student to come to Counselling, but it is important that the student concerned makes the actual appointment independently. Counselling is very much a collaborative process, so it is important that students should take responsibility for the decision to seek counselling once the matter has been discussed with the member of staff.
What should a member of staff do if they are unsure what the best option for the student is?
There is a counsellor on duty each day who will respond to a request from staff for advice or guidance. Many staff have found it helpful to talk things through with an independent person in a confidential setting. We are aware of the demands and pressures on staff and are very willing to provide whatever support we can.
How can a student make an appointment to see a counsellor?
Once a student has made the decision that Counselling would be appropriate for the difficulties being experienced, then the first step is to complete our 'pre-counselling' form. This will help us place the student with an appropriate counsellor. The form can be downloaded from the What we do page on the website, can be picked up from Nuffield Reception, or forwarded to the student as an email attachment once the Service has been contacted on email@example.com. Further information can be found on our What we do page.
What should a student expect from a counselling session?
Counselling is a collaborative process which requires commitment, motivation and active involvement on the part of the student. Generally counsellors do not provide advice or prescribe a course of action, but will explore the student?s personal dilemma in order to help that person gain clarity and find her/his own solution for the best way forward. The counsellor will listen to the student's concerns and respond in a non-judgemental manner, respecting her/his values and life choices.
Usually a counselling appointment lasts about an hour, but, when appropriate, shorter or longer sessions are arranged. For some people a single session will be all they want, as it will allow them the opportunity to talk over their concerns with a counsellor. Most people are seen for a brief period, but longer term counselling may be considered if appropriate. If it transpires that we are not the best people to help the student, then we can refer her/him to a more appropriate service.
Who will know if a student has been to counselling?
The Counselling Service takes confidentiality very seriously. What a student says to a counsellor is not disclosed to anyone outside the Counselling Service without that student's permission and no-one will know that the student has contacted us unless he/she decides to tell them. The only exception is when the counsellor believes that the student or others are at risk of serious harm. Even then, if at all possible, the situation will be fully discussed with the student.
The Counselling Service abides by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy's Ethical Framework.
What can a member of staff do if they are seriously concerned about a student?
We do not provide an emergency service, but, as stated above, there is a counsellor on duty each day who can respond to urgent calls from staff or students. If the duty counsellor is not available straight away, the member of staff will be contacted within an hour or so by the duty counsellor to consider the situation. However, where immediate and urgent action seems required then the GP has 24 hour responsibility of care and, in the event of a serious medical emergency, the student should attend the Accident and Emergency Department at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, or the Emergency Services could be contacted on 999. Further information is available on our In Crisis? page.
Does the Counselling Service offer any other kind of support to staff?
We have a longstanding interest in supporting staff and are keen to respond to requests for help with training events and staff development sessions.
Can the Counselling Service provide a letter in support of an ECF application?
Sometimes students ask us to write letters regarding extenuating circumstances. We are happy to do this where it seems appropriate and the student is known to us. However we do not normally provide a letter where the only contact with the student is the one in which they have asked us for the ECF letter. Follow the link for our policy on Extenuating circumstances.
What provision is there for counselling for members of staff?
We do not offer personal counselling for members of staff. However the University provides an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to support all staff.
Right Management Workplace Wellness provide a free and confidential helpline, with unlimited access to an advice, information and telephone or face to face counselling service designed to help individuals deal with a range of problems which may affect their personal lives or performance at work.
If a member of staff has questions or concerns which have not been dealt with above, then please do not hesitate to contact the Counselling Service either by phone (023 9284 3157) or by email, ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) and we will always do our best to provide advice and guidance.