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Groups and workshops

Three students talking

Our groups and workshops are designed to support you through the demands of academic life. Our students often say they find it beneficial to be part of a group where other people are experiencing similar difficulties.

There are many different reasons why counselling may be helpful. You might be worried, depressed, confused or feeling bad about yourself. There might be a problem in your family and friendships or with your partner. Or you might be experiencing difficulties with your work and exams.

Making changes in your life

Often people who come to counselling want to make some change to their lives. Talking about what is on your mind can help you understand yourself and discover more about yourself - both your strengths and your weaknesses. Whoever you are, whatever your age, whatever the situation or problem you are facing, it can help to talk things over in a safe, non-judgemental and confidential environment.

How to get help

The Wellbeing Service are a team of specialist mental health advisers, counsellors and psychotherapists. If you feel you would benefit from support, including counselling, please contact us to book a welfare appointment. In this appointment you can have an initial chat, in confidence, about the difficulties you are experiencing and the support available to you.

  • How counselling works

    Counselling aims to help you deal with, and overcome, problems and difficulties that are causing distress, making you feel uncomfortable or interfering with your life at University. It can provide a safe and regular space for you to talk through and explore difficult feelings.

    The counsellor will be objective and respect your views and although they will not usually give advice, they can help you find your own insight and understanding of your problems. They will not make decisions for you, nor will they tell you what to do. As one of the aims of counselling is to help you if you are confused, you do not have to be clear as to what your problem is, or indeed as to whether you have one or not.

    Counselling can often involve talking about difficult or painful feelings and, as you begin to face them, you may feel worse in some ways. However, with the help and support of your counsellor, you should gradually start to feel better. It can take a number of sessions before the counselling starts to make a difference, and a regular commitment is required to make best use of the therapy.

    Initial assessment

    If you feel that you would benefit from counselling, we will offer you an initial assessment with one of the specialist Wellbeing Practitioners who can explore with you how what your current difficulties are and if counselling may be able to help you. If it is felt that counselling is not appropriate, the Practitioner will explore with you other options for support.

    Number of sessions

    We offer short-term counselling – that means that most students will be offered six sessions of counselling after their initial assessment. Sessions last 50 minutes and are held at the same time and day every week. It is, therefore, important when accepting your first counselling session to consider whether you can regularly commit to that time slot as regular attendance helps to provide continuity in your relationship with your counsellor.

    What I can expect from my counsellor

    Your counsellor is here to provide you with a safe and confidential space in which you can be supported in exploring and expressing your feelings without judgement.

    What will my counsellor expect from me

    Although it can be difficult talking about yourself especially if it is not something you usually do, most of the talking will be done by you because you know your story better than anyone else and the information you provide will help you and your Counsellor in piecing together what is happening for you and starting to make sense of things.

  • Confidentiality and accessibility

    The University Wellbeing Service is bound by a strict confidentiality policy (.pdf). The service also operates in accordance with the BACP's Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy.

    Information relating to the content of counselling sessions, including session notes, will not be seen by anyone outside the service (see ‘Confidentiality Policy’ link above for exceptional circumstances). Clients of the service have the right to access any records kept on them under the provisions of the 1998 Data Protection Service, however all information remains the property of the University of Essex.

    As part of the Wellbeing service, the counselling section continually monitors uptake of the service in relation to our student population. Our Accessibility Strategy is available on request by emailing

  • Access private/low-cost counselling in Colchester

    The University is generally only able to offer short-term counselling. If you are interested in having some longer term counselling or psychotherapy, you may want to discuss this with your doctor (although please be aware there are often long waiting lists for NHS psychotherapeutic support).

    Alternatively, the following local organisations are well established and accredited by the relevant professional bodies. The all operate a sliding scale of fees and can offer some sessions at reduced cost for those on a low income: