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Counselling FAQ's

The UL Counselling Service is a primary care mental health service which offers a stepped-care model of service delivery. In a system with limited resources, the stepped-care model is ideal for reaching the greatest number of people possible and employing the least intensive yet effective intervention.

The UL Counselling Service is a professional psychological service available to students to assist them on their progress through university life, with all of its incumbent stresses and strains. Many personal decisions are made and problems solved through discussions with friends or family, advisor, course director, nurse, GP or chaplain. However, there are times when it may be right to seek help away from the familiar daily environment. The Counselling Service was set up at UL in 1977 to meet just such a need. The service works within the Code of Ethics and Practice of the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI), formerly the Irish Association of University and College Counsellors (IAUCC).

The service is available to all undergraduate and postgraduate students of UL. Approximately 1000 students avail of the service annually.

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.  

Students frequently say that they don'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 access supports at an early stage to prevent it 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.  

 

The service has a team of professionally trained, accredited and widely experienced psychotherapists, counsellors, chartered clinical psychologists, and 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.  

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 the 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. It will normally be on a weekly or fortnightly basis, for up to six sessions. This can be extended by a maximum of a further six session after a review with the Head/Deputy Head of Counselling and if deemed necessary. Each session normally lasts 50 minutes.

The first meeting consists of a detailed assessment and evaluation of the situation presented by the student. The counsellor explains about the nature of the work and what the student might expect. Goals and objectives of counselling are established at this point.

Most people are seen individually, but group counselling can also be offered when appropriate and if there is sufficient demand.

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 & Wellbeing 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 & Wellbeing 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. 

You can access the service arranging a drop-in appointment by emailing counselling@ul.ie 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 during term. During the summer months, drop-in runs every Tuesday and Thursday from 14:00 - 15:00.

Before your drop-in appointment, you will be asked to complete an intake form and a self-assessment questionnaire. Please note that you must fill in the intake form before we can call you. An Assistant Psychologist will contact you either via phone, MS Teams for drop-in or arrange an in-person meeting depending on Covid-19 operational guidelines. The appointment will be 10-15 minutes in duration. The AP 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.

The service is operating in a hybrid fashion meaning that both online and in-person sessions are available, depending on service capacity and Covid-19 requirements.   

 

 

The service gets very busy, especially during term, and consequently we often have to operate a waiting list for ongoing counselling. However, every effort will be made to see you as soon as possible. Various appropriate options will be discussed with you to support you while you wait. 

Yes, UL Éist is a free service, there will be no costs for attending the service.

The service requires at least 24 hours' notice of cancellation. In the event that you cannot attend your appointment, it is your responsibility to notify the service administrator at least 24 hours in advance so that your appointment can be rescheduled and so that the time slot can be allocated to another student who may be waiting. 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.  

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.

The stepped-care model of the Counselling Service is designed to meet mild-moderate mental health needs. Acute, chronic, and highly complex mental health needs may require referral to a variety of secondary level psychological, therapeutic, specialised, or psychiatric services in the community. If referral seems the best way forward, a team member will discuss the options with you.

All students should be registered with a GP, and it is often helpful if you inform your GP that you are seeing a counsellor at UL. 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.

The U.L. Eist Student Counselling and Wellbeing Service operates an emergency, same-day, appointment process for genuine 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. 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. 

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  

Speak Out

Speak Out is an online anonymous reporting platform for incidents of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, discrimination, hate crime, coercive behaviour/control, stalking, assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. The tool will help you to find relevant supports and highlight formal reporting procedures, should you wish to use them. 

It is important to remember that as the platform is completely anonymous, we have no way to identify or make contact with  you or any member of the college community. You can access the Speak Out platform Here

Please report one incident, or series of related incidents at a time; this is to ensure that we can understand the nature of your experience.

Should you wish to report an incident formally within the University please visit: Student Complaints Policy and Procedures

You can hear more about the Speak Out took project in UL here: Launch Video

We would like to thank you for Speaking Out against bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, discrimination, hate crime, coercive behaviour, stalking, assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.

We believe you, and we stand with you.

Please note, UL Éist do not:

- Provide certificates for attendance

- Extend assignment deadlines

- Give interviews for coursework

To access the Counselling service, you can email us at Counselling@ul.ie for a remote drop-in appointment.

During term-time

Drop In: 10-11a.m. & 2-3p.m. daily 

Please note, intake forms must be filled out no later than 10 minutes prior to the end of drop-in.  You will be sent an intake form and then asked to fill in some demographic details and a baseline screening questionnaire. You will then be called by an Assistant Psychologist for 10-15mins. 

Find Us: CM073, Main Building

Contact No: 061-202327

Ger Hanley - Monday 5-6.30pm during term time Email: gerard.hanley@ul.ie 

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