What is counselling?

Counselling is a process that enables us to express our thoughts and feelings in a safe and confidential setting. At Essex, our counselling service is provided by Validium, an external partner organisation. Counsellors at Validium are accredited with professional bodies and maintain a recognised standard of practice. They can provide up to four sessions either face-to-face, via the telephone or by Zoom.

You might find that you are able to work through difficulties that are causing distress and thereby able to enhance your life at University. Among other difficulties, you might be grieving for a close family member or friend, feeling anxious or depressed, or have experienced some type of trauma.

How to access counselling

If you feel that counselling might be beneficial for you, you can visit our Drop-in service and discuss this with an adviser in confidence, speak with your caseworker if you have one, or access the counselling referral form via My Essex. Once your form has been assessed by the Counselling Manager, it will be sent to Validium, after which you will receive an email explaining how to contact Validium for your assessment. The purpose of an assessment is to see if Counselling is the best option for you at the time or if there are other services within the Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service (SWIS) or external agencies that might be better suited to your needs.

If Validium feels that you would benefit from short-term counselling, you will usually be able to begin your counselling sessions within three weeks from the date of your assessment.

It is important to think about what support you need while you are waiting for counselling or even after you have completed your sessions. Here is a list of services open to students:

  • Case work: Ongoing individually tailored support, with a specialist adviser
  • Drop-in: A general service for students seeking advice and support for personal, welfare, emotional or mental health issues. You can visit Drop-in via telephone or Zoom by completing this form
  • SilverCloud: An online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) resource offering a range of programmes on mental health, wellbeing, and long-term conditions.
  • Student Wellbeing Support Line: A 24 hour phone line for University of Essex students, provided by Validium. The number is 0800 970 5020 (outside UK: +44 141 271 7168)
  • "vClub": An online support option, available to all University of Essex students, provided by Validium. You can login online by using the login: UniofEssex and password: Wellbeingsupport 

Longer term counselling

If you are thinking of long-term counselling, or would like to access specialist services, you might like to contact local, external organisations in Colchester, Southend or Loughton. Here are some suggestions for you to explore. It is important that you let them know that you are seeking support through their low fee services.

This list is for information only. We cannot endorse specific services so it is important that you get as much information as you need before you choose where to access counselling.


  • Break Even provides free counselling for those with gambling-related problems.
  • CARA (Centre for Action on Rape and Abuse) offers support to those who have experienced sexual violence and abuse.
  • Life-Force offers low cost counselling, from £8.50 per session, with advanced trainees.
  • Outhouse East offers a low-cost service that is open to those within the LGBTQ+ community who are aged 18 or over.
  • Rawstorn Road Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy has a mature student on placement who can offer low-cost sessions at £7.50 per session.
  • Stockwell Centre offers a low-fee scheme that is delivered by affiliate counsellors.
  • Turner Centre: has a low fee scheme for £10 per session with mature student therapists.
  • Colchester Institute: The service is provided by trainee counsellors. Fees are £5 per session. No referrals are possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Health in Mind offers a wide range of talking therapy treatments for adults with mental health problems. You can refer via your GP or self-refer.



  • Hope Centre Counselling Loughton (HCCL) offers counselling with trainees at £25 per session. No one is turned away for their inability to pay so you can discuss any concerns with them.
  • The Drop In Bereavement centre offers 6-12 consecutive counselling sessions. You can contact them for information but to use the service, you will need to be referred.
  • CCIWBS offers donation-based counselling for pre-bereavement, bereavement and other types of loss.
  • Worth Unlimited (Spark): Counselling is available for young people up to the age of 23. There is no charge for sessions, but donations can be made if possible.

Confidentiality and accessibility

The Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service is bound by a strict confidentiality policy (.pdf). Our partner organisation, Validium, only employs counsellors who are accredited with appropriate professional bodies, including the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS).

Information relating to the content of counselling sessions, including session notes, will not be seen by anyone outside the counselling service (see 'Confidentiality Policy' above for exceptional circumstances). If you use the service, you may have the right to access any records kept on you under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018.

Feedback on the Counselling Service

If you have received counselling from our partner organisation, Validium, and would like to share any feedback with us, please email studentsupport@essex.ac.uk.

Student Services Hub
Need help?

If you need any further help and advice, please contact or visit the Student Services Hub who will be happy to assist you.