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Frequently Asked Questions

The questions below are some of the most frequently asked questions by students who are considering counselling. We hope that the information provided will help answer some of your questions if you are thinking about contacting the Student Counselling Service.

Counselling can have both benefits and risks. The process may elicit uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. However, counselling can also lead to better interpersonal relationships, improved academic performance, solutions to specific problems and reductions in feelings of distress. There is no assurance to these benefits.  Students and counsellors regularly reflect together and review progress and development in context of the students' unique experience.  

About the service: The UCD Student Counselling Service is a confidential service available to all registered students, free of charge. The aim of the service is to provide easily accessible professional psychological support to assist students with personal challenges that affect their lives as University students.  Some of the typical reasons for students seeking support from the UCD Student Counselling Service include difficulties in day-to-day coping, relationship difficulties, issues around identity, academic concerns, family difficulties, social anxieties, mood changes, stress or past or present traumatic events. The university counsellors are professionally qualified psychologists and psychotherapists who employ a range of psychological therapies depending on the presenting issues and assessed needs of students who attend.  The counselling team appreciates the different needs of students coming from other cultures and backgrounds. 

Scope of the Service: Psychologists at the Counselling service have extensive expertise in working with students in relation to their psychological well being; we understand that sometimes students simply need to talk, while at other times students may want to address more complex issues in their personal life, in their academic experience, along with significant emotional and mental health challenges. The UCD Student Counselling Service offers one to one and group based counselling.  Students can also be referred to other services for additional help if that is required. Many issues typically encountered by university students can be addressed with the short term therapy we provide.

The student counselling service is not designed to provide the following: 

  • Diagnostic assessments, 
  • Step down services post hospital admission, 
  • Reports for court purposes or to resolve medical or legal disputes, 
  • Long term therapy input,
  • Psychological intervention where the best practice would require a more specialised or multi-disciplinary team based approach.

Information on how to register for UCD Student Counselling can be found on our Booking An Appointment page. Students considering counselling are asked to:

1. Read the UCD Student Counselling Information Leaflet to understand how the Student Counselling Service operates.

2. Fill out and submit the registration form embedded within the information leaflet.

*Our registration form is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 3pm. Please ensure your internet browser is connected to your UCD Connect account to access the form successfully.

Professional referrals to the Student Counselling Service are not necessary as students can self-refer. However, at times self-referrals can be supported by additional information or communication from other colleagues in UCD e.g. GPs, Student Advisors, Academic Staff, Dean of Students, or other relevant staff members. In these cases, please note that a referral will not be processed until, the student  has referred themselves by completing  and submitting the UCD Student Counselling Registration Form. The decision to access the Student Counselling Service rests with the student themselves and the Service will not make contact with a student who has not yet registered to indicate their interest in seeking counselling services.

Yes, teletherapy options are possible in both the on-campus and off-campus services. A student can discuss their attendance preferences with their assigned counsellor who will also be able to advise about what medium for counselling might best suit the student’s needs. This can be reviewed in collaboration with the counsellor.  

When accessing counselling sessions remotely, it is important to have a space where you can take and make calls maintaining privacy and confidentiality. 

If you are living outside of Ireland, the support that we can provide you is currently limited for the following reasons:

  1. When working face to face the applicable law is determined by where the work takes place. When counselling is operating online it is possible for the counsellor and client to be in different legal systems between countries and subject to different laws which creates uncertainty about which legal system applies to protect the student and about what the professional requirements are to be legally compliant in the country. 
  2. Insurance policies for professional liability vary in whether they cover online or digital working with clients or restrict online work.
  3. Aside from the very important protection provided by insurance, distance counselling with students, via video and/or phone, who are living abroad presents clinical risk issues.  
  4. There is very limited guidance from the literature and professional bodies to determine appropriateness for distance therapy and the evidence about the quality of counselling via video/phone versus in -person counselling is limited at this time. 

Please note: The external agencies that provide counselling for UCD students will not undertake to offer teletherapy to students outside of Ireland. 

What we can offer:

  1. Advice to the UCD staff who you reached out to (Student Advisor, Student Union, Academic Staff, Dean of Students) about what supports might be helpful.
  2. Access to information and resources for understanding and managing your mental health on the student counselling website. 
  3. Silvercloud – Online CBT programmes
  4. Register with us to avail offer the Counselling Services when you return to Ireland.

The service is designed to avoid unnecessary waiting and it is best to register for the counselling service at the time when a student is ready to start the counselling. Waiting times vary throughout the year. Longer waiting times are common during busy periods of the year. Please note that these waiting times can not be guaranteed as it is not possible to predict fluctuations in demand in any one year. If a student considers their situation to be urgent after-hours and urgent options are available at this link.

When options for appointments become available, a student will be contacted by a phone call, text or email. Students will be asked to respond within a required timeframe. 

All counselling sessions are strictly confidential. No information about students including the fact that they have visited the counselling service, will be released to anyone outside the service without the students permission (except in the case of legal subpoena). Ethically, however, we are required to disclose information if that is necessary to protect you or someone else from imminent danger.

Limits to Confidentiality

  • If there is a significant and / or immediate risk of a student harming himself or herself
  • If there is a significant and / or immediate risk of a student harming other people
  • In situations where a vulnerable person such as child may be at risk of harm
  • In situations where a student discloses a serious criminal offence
  • If notes / records are subpoenaed by a court of law in relation to a criminal offence
  • If a student discloses any incident/s of child sexual abuse and / or significant incident/s of child neglect, child emotional abuse or child physical abuse, past or present, counsellors are legally obliged to make a report to the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) under The Children First Act 2015.  This report will be made in collaboration with the designated UCD Child Protection Officer (CPO). (For more information see http://www.tusla.ie/children-first).    

At the first appointment with a counsellor students can ask any questions about confidentiality procedures and limitations. 

With the students consent we can liaise with other UCD services and external agencies, but the student must advise that they want this to occur and will be asked to complete a release of information form for this to occur.

Counsellors are required to keep brief summary notes of counselling meetings . Clinical notes are confidential and stored securely.  In line with their professional requirements, counsellors may discuss their work with their clinical supervisor on the counselling team and/or an external clinical supervisor bound by confidentiality and code of ethical practice. The purpose of clinical supervision is to ensure quality, safety, best practice, adherence to ethical codes and professional development.  

For the purpose of internal reporting, resource management and quality monitoring, UCD Student Counselling Service records and reports on non identifying information concerning the uptake of counselling, themes  and patterns of presenting issues, and the trends in the profile of the students who attend. These statistics are reported collectively and do not contain any individual student names or identifying information. 

UCD Student Counselling Service is located upstairs in the Student Centre. The on-campus service operating hours are Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm.

During busy periods, UCD counselling service works in partnership with off-campus counselling services situated close to UCD to try to ensure that counselling appointments are available when students need them. The off-campus services may offer flexibility of appointment times e.g. evenings, and weekends.

Both the on-campus and off-campus services offer counselling both in person or via secure teletherapy methods. A student can discuss their attendance preferences with their assigned counsellor who will also be able to advise about what medium for counselling might best suit the student’s needs. This can be reviewed in collaboration with the counsellor.  

Yes, once an administrator contacts you with a counselling offer you can request the gender of the counsellor if this is important to you. We may not be able to accommodate this request right away as there may be a wait for your preference to become available.

When a student arrives for their initial counselling session, they are required to check in at reception and their counsellor will be electronically notified of their arrival. When the counsellor comes to greet them, they will be invited to a private office for a confidential chat.

A student’s first meeting will be devoted to listening and exploring their concerns, explaining how the service works, answering any questions that a student has and developing a plan about the possible options that best meet a student's needs. This might include gathering additional information, continuing with counselling, a medical consultation, or a referral to another service. If at any point it is determined that other services are more suitable we will help guide a student towards accessing other services more appropriate to their needs. 

Each counselling session lasts for approximately 50 minutes.

A counsellor will agree the number of sessions students attend based on their needs. If an individual has issues that are identified as requiring long term counselling, where possible we may be able to provide guidance for accessing services in a more appropriate, longer-term setting .

Postponing or Cancelling Appointments: The frequency of appointments will be arranged between the student and the counsellor. To get the full benefit from counselling it is important that students attend appointments as scheduled. When a student books an appointment, that time is reserved for them unless they cancel. To help us ensure that we provide a responsive and accessible service to all students, we ask that students provide us with as much notice as possible if they are unable to attend. Students who need to cancel an appointment are asked to call or email student.counselling@ucd.ie, at least 48 hours in advance, so that the appointment can be used by a fellow student.

Missed Appointments: Missed appointments reduce the effectiveness of counselling and the capacity to provide services to students who are waiting to meet a counsellor. Failing to attend  or cancelling appointments with less than 48hrs notice more than twice may result in discontinuation of counselling.  The counsellor will raise this behaviour with a student because it’s important to openly address any issue that is impacting on attendance and thereby limiting the effectiveness of counselling. In the event of a late cancellation or a failure to attend without any communication prior to the appointment , students are responsible for confirming or scheduling their next appointment. Students can cancel or reschedule appointments by calling: 01 716 3159 or emailing student.counselling@ucd.ie.

In the event that you wish to change counsellors you are advised to discuss this with the counsellor you are attending so they can advise on the most appropriate next steps. If you do not feel able to speak about this with the counsellor you are attending, you may email student.counselling@ucd.ie or phone 01 716 3159 to speak with an administrator who will pass on your request.

We welcome students' suggestions about any ways in which our service can be improved.  We strive to provide a high-quality safe service that is student centred, and we are very interested in and value students’ feedback.  All feedback will be considered and valued, and we endeavour to implement students' ideas and suggestions.   

We invite students to tell their counsellor about their experience and ideas or suggestions for improvements in the service provided.  In order to help monitor the effectiveness of the service, students may be asked to complete a questionnaire during or after their attendance at the service.  Students are encouraged to take part in the ongoing regular evaluation of the service and are updated on service improvements.

Please feel free to talk to your counsellor, the senior counsellor, the Clinical Lead Manager of Counselling or other members of the Counselling team about your suggestions and advice.

If a student has concerns about the service that they are receiving, they are encouraged in the first instance to discuss their concerns with their counsellor. If they still have concerns after this, or cannot discuss their concerns with their counsellor, they may request a meeting with the Clinical Manager.  An appointment to meet the Clinical Manager by calling: 01 716 3159 or emailing student.counselling@ucd.ie. 

The counselling service adheres to the University Student Complaints Procedure.  The first step is to seek to resolve the issue informally. In most instances, a concern, query, or complaint can be resolved satisfactorily following discussion with the counsellor or discussion with the Clinical Lead Manager, Triona.  The university complaints policy maps out the steps here. If the student is attending the off campus counselling service,  the same steps are followed and in the first instance the complaint or query should be raised with the counsellor or the manager of the counselling service. If the student attending an off campus counselling service is uncertain how to approach something, the clinical lead manager will be happy to listen to the student’s experience and offer advice and support.