Reporter 434, 29 March 1999

University Student Counselling Service

1997 – 1998

This report is designed to inform colleagues about the work of the University Student Counselling Service (USCS) in the 1997-98 academic year. The report contains an overview of the year, statistical information and a description of our main areas of activity.

If you wish to comment on any details outlined in this report, please do not hesitate to contact Nigel Humphrys at the University Student Counselling Service, 44 Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9PJ. Telephone: 0113 233 4107, email <>, fax: 0113 233 4154

1. USCS Mission Statement

2. Staff

Core Team Sessional Staff Trainee Counsellors
Nigel Humphrys Senior Student Counsellor Judith Dryhurst Khalida Qaiser
Peter Powell Full time Counsellor Jackie Emmott Vickie Tordoff
Marian Sedley Full time Counsellor Jane Macaskie
Barbara Lawton Half-time Counsellor Greg Nolan
Penny Tharratt Half-time Counsellor Mark Sawyer
Carol Dixon Service Secretary Gerard Walsh
Mandy Thompson Part-time Secretary Jane Williams

3. Overview of 1997-98

In its third year USCS expanded its provision and consolidated its position within the University. Increased demand for counselling led to the introduction of another 2 sessional workers for the spring and summer terms, enabling the Service to offer more appointments. Attendance at the daily drop-in session also increased considerably during 1997-8 and some afternoon appointments were set aside to accommodate the overspill.

As can be seen from the statistics, more resources were used in providing focused groupwork to students. Assertiveness courses, exam stress workshops, and stress management seminars for post graduate students featured in the programme offered to students. This is an area we wish to develop further in 1998-99.

The Service increased its contribution to other aspects of university life. The Senior Counsellor continued his considerable involvement with the Student Support Network as chair and vice-chair and with the Student Welfare Committee (SWC). Nigel Humphrys was chair of two SWC sub-groups, the Drugs, Policy and Alcohol Awareness group and the South East Asia Crisis Group. He also sat on the Teaching and Learning Board Group on Guidance in response to Dearing. Members of the team offered more courses to students and staff. Courses provided for staff included ‘Counselling Skills for Personal Tutors’ and a range of courses in the SDDU ‘Promoting Student Welfare’ series while assertiveness courses and exam stress groups featured in the programme offered to students.

Faculty reorganisation led to some adjustments in how the core team were deployed for faculty liaison and this year saw the Service strengthening its links with academic staff. The Student Support Network Conference in July provided a valuable opportunity for the counsellors to liaise with colleagues from other support services within the University. The core team continued to meet regularly with members of the Student Medical Practice and with Dr Chris Williams who became the Service’s psychiatric consultant at the beginning of the academic year.

Nationally, USCS raised its profile by the involvement of core team members in the management of professional associations and in counselling related research.

4. Statistical Information

Overall table of statistics:

Clients attending counselling service 96/97 97/98
Clients attending individual counselling 571 545
Clients attending drop-in, not going on for counselling 88 91
Clients attending workshops:
Research student seminars 51
Exam stress 16
Workshops total 28 67
Clients attending Groups:
Group therapy 6
Debriefing group 5
Assertiveness training 10
Groups total 9 21
Total 696 724
Client hours
Individual counselling sessions offered 3,496 3,656
Group counselling hours 330 357
Total 3,826 4,013
Clients attending Drop-in 284 352
Session Average
Average number of sessions for clients attending individual counselling 6.1 6.7
Individual Counselling Student Numbers
Full time 542 529
Part time 22 15
Unrecorded 7 1
Undergraduate 459 423
Postgraduate 81 100
PhD 26 21
Unrecorded 5 1
Male 158 159
Female 372 345
1st year 177 172
2nd year 184 165
3rd year 144 156
4th year 43 38
5th year 6 5
6th year 1 1
Unrecorded 16 8
Major issues dealt with in Counselling 96/97 % 97/98 %
Relationships (Families) 16.5 17.5
Relationships (Partner) 8.3 9.6
Depression 9.8 9.0
Anxiety related 9.2 7.6
Relationships (Peers) 7.2 7.6
Academic 8.1 7.0
Self Esteem 5.4 6.9
Development/personal growth 4.5 3.6
Bereavement 2.7 2.9
Identity 3.5 2.9
Major issues dealt with in Counselling 96/97% 97/98%
Loss 2.5 2.3
Stress 1.5 2.3
Isolation 3.2 1.9
Panic 1.5 1.7
Sexuality 1.4 1.6
Drugs/Alcohol 1.6 1.5
Eating Disorder 1.2 1.3
Others 11.5 12.8
Client referred by:
Self 380 353
Tutor & Dept 55 67
Leeds Student Medical Practice 71 66
Other G.P. 31 35
Friends 6 8
Students Union 4 4
Other 24 12
Number of Sessions
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
3% 10% 17% 10% 28% 9% 3% 6% 0% 4% 0% 10%

5 Student Feedback

This information is based on evaluation forms that are given out to each student at the end of their counselling.

a) How would you describe your experience of the USCS overall?
Excellent Good Satisfactory Unsatisfactory Extremely
1996/97 50% 45% 5% 0% 0%
1997/98 58% 38% 3% 1% 0%
b) Location
disagree somewhat
agree strongly
I thought the physical facilities of the U.S.C.S. were conducive to counselling.
1996/97 1% 0% 4% 56% 39%
1997/98 0% 1% 13% 55% 31%
c) Reception Service
disagree somewhat
agree strongly
Receptionists pleasant and helpful?
1996/97 1% 0% 1% 35% 63%
1997/98 0% 0% 2% 36% 62%
Making appointments smooth and easy?
1996/97 0% 2% 6% 38% 54%
1997/98 0% 1% 5% 58% 36%
I obtained an appointment in reasonable time.
1996/97 2% 5% 13% 38% 42%
1997/98 3% 6% 14% 39% 38%
d) Were the number of sessions offered to you enough to deal with your concern?
Yes No Not Sure
1996/97 80% 14% 6%
1997/98 73% 16% 11%

Evaluation questionnaires returned in 1996/97 – 211, 1997/98 – 212

Comments received from students in 1997/98, about counselling:

All in all a very useful and seemingly ‘life saving’ service

A brilliant service......I.....was at the end of my tether. I now feel I can cope again.

My experiences have shown me that counselling is a resource that cannot be valued too highly. USCS could do with more publicity, so that an attempt can be made to show the value of counselling to more people.

I was really sceptical about counselling beforehand but I feel I received professional help and hope that this has been a turning point for me – thank you

Going for counselling is the best thing I have ever done

The counselling service turned out to be an extremely useful experience mainly helping as a pressure valve and also as a way to understand myself better.

I was very reluctant to come to counselling but it was made very easy for me and the benefits were enormous

I feel that the time spent being counselled has helped me to deal with my problems and have a better understanding of how to deal with them

Has made a massive difference for me

Long waiting list but excellent service once access gained

The ongoing option of counselling should be emphasised, also that it isn’t something which makes all problems go away

I feel that because I waited 4 weeks for my appointment I became far a result my studies were affected more than necessary

Workshops to deal with exam stress be held more often

My counsellor and the process stopped me from killing myself. ......I feel human again

The counselling helped me to understand myself and my mind better. It was good to have someone to talk to during a very difficult period

There should be greater support in general throughout the University system to ease the strain on the counselling service and the students

I looked forward to the session every week because I always came away feeling better and more able to cope with stress

I found the process illuminating and conducive to self-exploration. It was a contributing factor in raising my self esteem.

I would recommend the service to anyone in the university in need of professional help.......... it has made such a difference.

(The counsellor) has done a superb job of helping me to regain confidence and self-worth

Having counselling sessions has helped me to cope throughout my academic year

This is a very important service, it’s helped me and some friends a great deal. I found my counsellor to be very good and experienced and valued her support and had much trust in her.

I would like to thank (the counsellor) for her quality of support during a most stressful period of my life.

My counsellor was someone who would listen to what was troubling me – a person who wasn’t in my life but could offer me perspective on the things I wanted to talk through and help me see what I could aim for in the future.

My counsellor was excellent and very understanding. 5 sessions was the right amount for me.

Didn’t feel I had enough time to deal with certain issues – just felt like we’d slightly touched them.

(Comments from students are printed with their permission.)

6. Reception Report

1997-98 was another busy year for Reception, providing administrative support for 8 sessional staff and 1 trainee, as well as for the core team. There was a waiting list from the end of September ‘97 until mid June ‘98, which led to a wait of over 4 weeks for students during most of the Autumn and Spring terms. This put considerable pressure on the Service, and Reception staff used various methods of re-scheduling in order to try to alleviate the resulting stress to students.

The daily drop in continued to be well used and Reception organised extra drop in when possible throughout the day, to improve the accessibility of the Service. One of the Service secretaries continued to act as a clerk to the Student Support Network, and Reception staff development continued with attendance at a one day workshop run by the Northern Group of Secretaries/Receptionists in Counselling Services, and various courses run by UCS and SDDU.

7. Therapy and Personal Development Group

This group continued to run over the 1997-98 year. Some members continued from the previous year, and others joined either at the beginning of the year, or later at an appropriate entry time.

The experiential therapy and personal development group offered a forum for exploring personal and interpersonal issues in a safe and supportive context.

8. Focused Groups

A series of focused groups were offered to students in areas such as exam stress, an introduction to assertiveness for women, and stress management for research and M Res students.

The exam groups were offered before the first and second semester exam periods. The assertiveness course comprised 4 weeks of 1½ hour lunchtime workshops. Both programmes were organised in conjunction with and located in the Leeds University Union.

It is planned that all of these courses will run again in 1998/9.

9. Trainee Scheme

In its second year, the scheme consolidated its popularity as a placement opportunity for trainee counsellors. An increased number of applications were received from students on diploma in counselling courses and, after interviews, 2 trainees from Bretton Hall were engaged to work at USCS on Friday mornings for the 1997-8 academic year. They were Khalida Qaiser and Vicki Tordoff.

Links with colleges offering counselling training courses were strengthened during the year, through visits to various institutions and participation in the Northern Counsellors Trainers Group.

10. Staff Training

The SDDU co-ordinated programme ‘Promoting Student Welfare’ was the channel through which the Student Support Network continued to bring the University’s attention to student welfare. A series of ½ day seminars covering welfare areas attracted 187 staff and were well received by academic and support staff. The series will be offered again in 1998-9.

The USCS co-ordinated and contributed to the following training sessions for staff in 1997/8:

Thursday 11th and 18th September ‘Making referrals to the USCS and SSN’
Post-graduate certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education
Contributor: Nigel Humphrys (USCS)

Wednesday 21st January
‘Student welfare facilities and referral agencies in the university’
Contributors: Nigel Humphrys (USCS), Liz Hodgen (LUU Welfare)

Wednesday 22nd April ‘Helping students cope with exam stress’
Contributors: Nigel Humphrys (USCS), Maggie Boyle (TLSU),
Dr Phillip Snaith (St James)

Wednesday 6th May ‘Dealing with difficult people’
Contributors: Nigel Humphrys (USCS), Revd Jonathan Pye (Chaplaincy)

Friday 26th June ‘Counselling skills for personal tutors’
Contributors: Barbara Lawton (USCS) and Peter Powell (USCS)

Tuesday 22nd September ‘Helping students with drug and alcohol problems’
Contributors: Nigel Humphrys (USCS), Adrian Slater (University Legal Adviser),
Peter Vincent (Security), Matt Hearing (Community Police Officer), Claire Vogeli (LUU), Wendy Royfe (Resource and Service Development Centre).

11. Liaison with Staff

A crucial part of USCS work in the past year was improving and consolidating links with faculties and departments. To manage this the counsellors’ faculty liaison responsibility was assigned as follows:

Arts Marian Sedley
Joint Honours Nigel Humphrys
Business, Law, Education & Social Sciences Barbara Lawton
Engineering Nigel Humphrys
Medicine, Dentistry, Psychology and Health Penny Tharratt
Science & Mathematics Peter Powell

Counsellors arranged training induction talks and spoke at departmental meetings on referring students to the USCS and points of policy. The team also acted as consultants to staff who wished to talk confidentially about students who they were concerned about.

Staff are encouraged to contact the Senior Student Counsellor or their faculty liaison counsellor to discuss the range of USCS services available to staff.

12. Liaison with Universities and Community Agencies

The USCS maintained close links with other universities in the region. The core team was active within the Northern Universities Counsellors’ Group. Barbara Lawton also attended the equivalent counselling trainers group in her capacity as a Senior Lecturer in Counselling at University College Bretton Hall. Nigel Humphrys is a member of the Yorkshire and Humberside local Heads of Service group and Chair Elect of the Heads of University Counselling Service group which impacts upon counselling service policy and strategy in Britain.

We also continued to have regular meetings with the Leeds Student Medical Practice (LSMP) where referral and other subjects of mutual interest were discussed. The LSMP continued to be our major referrer of students and we thank them once again for their support and interest.

13. International Students

Due to the financial crisis in South East Asia 1997-98 was a very difficult year for students from Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand in particular. Nigel Humphrys chaired a sub-group of the Student Welfare Committee to look at the welfare concerns of students from S.E.Asia. The group arranged several meetings with student representatives from affected countries, and ensured that university policy was communicated to students.

14. Psychiatric Support

Dr Chris Williams from the Division of Psychiatry provided sessional support to the counselling team. Although the numbers of USCS students who required psychiatric help were small, the support offered by Dr Williams was a crucial ‘safety net’ for the team. Dr Williams met with the team twice a term to discuss cases confidentially, and offered telephone consultation and assessment when required. Dr Williams also offered training and information to the team about analysis, assessment and therapy offered to patients, and arranged with team members the most appropriate counselling and psychiatric care for the person concerned.

15. Student Support Network (SSN)

The SSN is an established network of welfare providers in the University. Its core activity is to discuss and encourage dialogue about the welfare needs of students and to impact upon policy decisions in this area within the University. Nigel Humphrys was chair of the SSN from January 1997 – January 1998.

Since the start of the ‘Promoting Student Welfare’ series in 1995, 489 staff have been trained by SSN members. This year 182 members of staff attended student welfare seminars (see Section 8 for information). A display outlining SSN services was exhibited in various locations throughout the University and was often used by departments for T.Q.A. visits.

The SSN was very pleased that a Dean for Students was appointed and looks forward to the Dean taking a major role in promoting student issues in the University and developing policy in the area of student welfare.

In July of this year a conference was organised by the SSN, entitled ‘Student Support into the 21st Century’ which was attended by over 60 staff. The keynote speaker was Stephen MacNair who recently wrote the DFEE paper ‘Supporting Learner Autonomy’. The conference was extremely well received, especially as it was an opportunity for SSN members to network with academic and departmental staff. The SSN hopes to offer similar events on an annual basis from now on.

Clerical support continued to be provided by Carol Dixon from the USCS.

16. Student Death

Nigel Humphrys continued to be a member of the co-ordinating team which responds to major incidents within the University. The team comprises Rev Simon Robinson (Chaplaincy), Dr Andrew Brooks (Registry) and Vanessa Bridge (Press Office).

The leaflet entitled ‘Guidelines on Dealing with Student Death and Major Incidents within the University Community’ is distributed to departments each academic year and continued to be well used. The team had to deal with a number of incidents during this period, where appropriate. They responded in various ways offering immediate support and debriefing, consultations with staff, ongoing counselling to students, help in dealing with the press and memorial services.

Staff particularly remarked how useful the above leaflet was in co-ordinating an appropriate response to an incident or death.

17. Drugs and Students

A sub-group of the SWC, chaired by Nigel Humphrys and comprising representatives from the LUU, academic staff, halls, security, administration, legal adviser and LSMP has been working since Jan ‘98, looking at the above issue. The group recently established university guidelines on the misuse of drugs, and these have been circulated to students. The group also disseminated information about the risks involved in drug use, the properties of drugs, and support available to those experiencing difficulties with drugs. The LUU is also working on a website, posters and displays to provide information to students about drugs.

18. External Representation

Chair Elect of Heads of University Counselling Services Nigel Humphrys
Yorkshire and Humberside Heads of Service Nigel Humphrys
UKCOSA Council for International Education: Training Group Nigel Humphrys
Northern Universities Counsellors in H.E. Group USCS Team
Vice-Chair of Association of University and College Counsellor
Conference Sub-Committee
Peter Powell
Member of the Northern Counselling Trainers in H.E. Group Barbara Lawton
Member of the British Association for Counselling Research Network Barbara Lawton
External Examiner for the Certificate in Counselling Course at Sheffield College Barbara Lawton
Training Supervisor and Therapist for trainee counsellors at
Park Lane College
Barbara Lawton
Northern Group of Secretaries/Receptionists in Counselling Mandy Thompson

19. Training Offered Externally by the USCS Team Members

Course leader for Graduate Diploma and Certificate in Counselling
Supervision courses: University College, Bretton Hall
Barbara Lawton
"Social Cultural Competency for International Students" UKCOSA
training May ‘98. UKCOSA conference July ‘98.
Nigel Humphrys
Part-time tutor: Counselling Skills course: Thomas Danby College Peter Powell

20. Professional Development

Awarded BAC accredited counsellor status: March 1997 and 1998 Nigel Humphrys, Marian Sedley, Barbara Lawton, Peter Powell
Accepted onto the UK Register of Independent Counsellors Barbara Lawton, Peter Powell
Entry in the Association of University and College Counsellors Review of Research 1998 Nigel Humphrys,Barbara Lawton
Commenced 19 month course of advanced studies for MA (modular) in Gestalt Psychotherapy – Gestalt Centre, London/ University of North London (leading to UKCP registration) Penny Tharratt

21. Conferences and Seminars Attended by the USCS Team

Association of Universities and College Counsellors Conference: March 1998: University of Exeter Nigel Humphrys,Marian Sedley, Barbara Lawton, Peter Powell
‘Learning, Gender and Sexuality’: Oxford University Counselling Service Conference: June 1998 Marian Sedley
‘The Assessment and Management of Risk’: University of Nottingham: December 1997 Marian Sedley
‘Brief Counselling’: Birkbeck College Summer Conference: June 1998 Peter Powell
‘Association of Managers of Student Services in H.E’, (AMOSSHE Conference) Sheffield: July 1998 Nigel Humphrys
‘21st British Association of Counselling Training Conference’: Edinburgh: September 1997 Barbara Lawton
‘British Association for Supervision Practice and Research Conference’: St Mary’s College: London: July 1998 Barbara Lawton
Seminars, short courses and workshops
‘False memories and the memory debate’: York: September 1997 Marian Sedley
‘Anxiety management: The Cognitive Behavioural Approach’: Tuke Centre York: June 1998 Peter Powell

22. Acknowledgements 1997/98

The USCS team would particularly like to acknowledge the help and support of the following:

Jackie Emmott, who had to leave the USCS, for her excellent counselling support to students.

The sessional counsellors and trainees for their professional counselling work and commitment to the work of the USCS.

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