U.L. Éist Student Counselling Service Information Sheet for Students
What is the UL Counselling Service?
UL Éist Student Counselling and Wellbeing Service is a professional psychological, primary care level, short-term, free and confidential service that assists students to progress through university life with all its stresses, strains, changes and adjustments.
The U.L. Éist Student Counselling & Wellbeing Service is located within the Student Affairs Division alongside other student support services such as Chaplaincy, Student Health, Disability Office, Access Office, Mature Students Office and Student Support Officers.
Who can access the service?
All U.L. registered undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Who are the team members?
The service has a team of professionally trained and widely experienced psychotherapists, counsellors, chartered clinical psychologists, chartered counselling psychologists who provide a range of supports to students, including one-to-one counselling sessions.
The team includes three assistant psychologists (APs). Assistant Psychologists are working towards gaining entry to professional training in educational psychology, counselling psychology or clinical psychology. Assistant Psychologists provide the drop-in service and facilitate one-to-one Cognitive Behaviour Support sessions to students.
The service also includes therapists and psychologists in professional training. Students will be offered the option of attending a trainee if they wish but are not required to do so. Trainees provide counselling sessions and are under the close supervision of the Head/Deputy Head of Counselling.
What sort of issues can be supported through the U.L. Eist Student Counselling & Wellbeing Service?
Students present to the service with wide-ranging issues including; anxiety, stress and low mood, academic issues, family and/or relationship difficulties, loss, sexual issues, and identity issues. It also includes support around times of transition and change such as adjusting to college life, a new culture, life changes and dealing with dilemmas or difficult decisions.
Is the service confidential?
The service is confidential and operates within the terms of confidentiality as laid down by the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI). This means that your personal details are not disclosed to anyone outside of the service without your permission. However, there are some exceptions to confidentiality. These include:
Liaising with key people when there is a threat to your own safety or the safety of someone else, e.g., if you communicate plans of suicide or plans to harm someone else. Examples of those who may be contacted include your Next-of-Kin, ambulance staff, the Gardai, etc. Only the minimum number of people required to ensure your safety will be informed.
Meeting legal requirements of the Children’s First policy (2015). Psychologists and psychotherapists are mandated by law to report harm to children to the Child and Family Agency (Túsla). Such harm includes emotional, physical, sexual abuse and/or neglect.
Sharing of information:
We occasionally liaise with services/departments at the University of Limerick to verify student information in order to provide our service or assess our service delivery. For example, the Counselling Service may need to compare students who are at risk of dropping out of university against those who actually dropped out. This requires liaising with Academic Registry. Work such as this helps us know if the Counselling Service is providing a useful service to students and the university. Only quantitative information and anonymous data is shared by such comparisons – no identifying information is shared.
We maintain basic case notes on all students. These are kept in an electronic database which is password and fob protected. We engage in research, evaluations, and audits of our service from time to time. This requires employing unidentifiable, anonymised, aggregate data. Your personal details are not included in such research.
When is the right time to seek support?
Students frequently say that they didn't think their problem is serious enough to contact the service and that they do not want to waste the team’s time. Talking to somebody at this stage, before things escalate, is often the best course of action and is to be encouraged. We would much rather you come when an issue is at an early stage and that it is prevented from escalating. Not everyone who contacts the service needs or wants counselling and may benefit from our wellbeing and resilience programme. It is never too early and never too late to contact the service.
What supports are offered?
Our stepped care model of service delivery, ensures that various levels of supports are available to students depending on their needs. Services are available Monday-Friday between 9am and 5pm. The stepped care model includes 4 steps:
Step 1: Wellbeing and Resilience Programme
This includes our drop-in service through which all students access the service by emailing email@example.com to arrange a 10-15 minute call with an assistant psychologist who talks through your presenting issues and following consultation with the Head or Deputy Head of Counselling emails you your individualised support plan which may include supports from step 1, 2, 3 or 4.
Step 1 may also include attendance at one-to-one Cognitive Behaviour sessions with an assistant psychologist. This is distinguished from counselling in that it offers very focussed, goal-directed support with specific problems or concerns of the student. For example, students presenting with stress/anxiety/low-mood/specific fears often find that learning key coping skills, grounding techniques, and goal-setting is more helpful to them at this time in their life than talking about their history or wider difficulties.
Online supports are also available through step 1 and may include online and/or self-help CBT programmes such as Silvercloud, online webinars, reading material, workshops and particular groups when available. If this level of support is appropriate for you, you will receive this information in your support plan.
Step 2: Talk Therapy
Counselling is not the same as giving advice. Rather, a counsellor seeks to help you to focus on and understand more clearly the issues that concern you. By respecting your own values, choices and lifestyle, the counsellor can work with you towards making choices or changes that are right for you.
Counselling is not any one thing but is adapted by the counsellor to fit the needs of each student. Counselling is basically about a relationship with another person who is skilled and has expertise in dealing with the difficulties encountered by students. This relationship is one of support, education and challenge, warmth and empathy.
The initial session consists of a detailed assessment and evaluation of the situation presented by you. The counsellor explains about the nature of the work and what you might expect. Goals and objectives of counselling are established at this point. It will normally be on a weekly or fortnightly basis, for up to six sessions.
Step 3: Extended Talk Therapy
In some circumstances and with the review and approval of the Head/Deputy Head of Counselling, students may be offered a further six sessions if deemed appropriate.
Step 4: Specialist Services
In some instances, a student who attends Drop-in may have mental health needs that require more specialist assessment and/or long-term intervention. In these circumstances the student will be supported to access the most appropriate service for their needs. Examples of specialist services include; The HSE Adult Mental Health Teams, addiction services, rape crisis services, disability services, The HSE National Counselling Service etc. All students should be registered with a GP, and it is often helpful if you inform your GP that you are attending the U.L. Eist Student Counselling & Wellbeing Service. Although rare, occasionally, some HSE services will not accept a referral from the UL Counselling Service. Being registered with a GP outside of the university will overcome this issue should it arise.
How do I make an appointment?
You can access the drop-in service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and informing the service administrator of what day/time suits you best. The daily drop-in take place from 10.00–11.00 and 14.00–15.00. You will be asked to complete an intake form and a self-assessment questionnaire. An Assistant Psychologist will contact you either via phone, MS Teams or arrange an in-person meeting depending on Covid-19 operational guidelines. This meeting with be 10-15 minutes in duration. They will review your details and establish what has brought you to the counselling & wellbeing service.
At drop-in, you and the assistant psychologist can decide on the best way forward. Some find the drop-in sufficient on its own; others will want/need to access support at step 1, 2, 3 or 4 and this will be considered by the Head/Deputy Head of Counselling,
What if I miss my appointment?
The service requires at least 24 hours' notice of cancellation. It is your responsibility to notify the service administrator at least 24 hours in advance so that the time slot can be allocated to someone else. If an appointment is cancelled at short notice (inside 24 hours), due the demands on the service, this will be counted as one of your sessions. Repeated missed appointments without adequate reason will result in sessions being discontinued and your being referred back to the drop-in centre. Wait lists may apply.
Can I ask for a particular counsellor?
You will be allocated an appointment with the first available counsellor. Requests to attend specific counsellors cannot be catered for. Requests to see a counsellor of a particular gender will be considered on merit.
Is there an emergency service?
The U.L. Eist Student Counselling and Wellbeing Service operates an emergency appointment process for emergency situations. If this arises, the service will arrange for you to see a counsellor quickly– so please do not let the busyness of the service put you off coming, especially when something is urgent. Emergencies will be given priority and emergency appointments will be available on the same day. In the case of medical emergencies, or where your life or the life of another person is at risk, staff at the Counselling Service will support you to access the medical service/call emergency services/your next of kin/emergency contact to assist you in accessing immediate support through A&E, depending on your presentation.
How do I give feedback on the service?
As part of this service’s quality control procedures, all students attending the service are asked to complete an evaluation form once counselling has ended. Alternatively, you can supply anonymous feedback online by clicking the following link: https://unioflimerick.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eE96fyTzxBUJ9CR.