Skip to main content

What to expect

Counselling requires commitment from both you and the counsellor. Once you have confirmed attendance for your initial consultation, it is important that you read the following information to understand what you are committing to and to help ensure you're able to get the most out of your counselling experience. 

Therapeutic consultation

We offer all students at university the opportunity to meet with a counsellor for a therapeutic consultation.

Once we have received your request to meet with a counsellor, we will send you a registration form to fill in and send to us, and then offer you an appointment for a consultation that can last up to 90 minutes.

Here you have the opportunity to talk about your difficulties with one of our accredited counsellors, and to consider what kind of support might be most helpful. This may include directing you to appropriate self-help resources, referral to a workshop, sign-posting and referral to internal and external agencies and specialist services, or referral to either a therapeutic group or short-term counselling.

Sometimes a one-off therapeutic consultation may be all that is needed to help a student resolve their immediate difficulties.

Once you have been offered a consultation, you need to confirm within 48 hours before the appointment that you can attend. Due to high demand for the service, if you do not confirm, the appointment may be offered to someone else.

Group sessions

Our therapeutic groups are scheduled weekly and are delivered by the same facilitator/s. 

The duration of the group will be agreed at the outset of the process. Sessions are 90 minutes in length and the groups tend to be somewhere between five and ten members.

One-to-one sessions

Your appointments are likely to be scheduled with the same practitioner and the frequency of meetings agreed between you.

Birkbeck Counselling Service operates a short-term counselling model under which up to a maximum of six 50-minute sessions are offered. Some students may require fewer than this, and the number of sessions you have will be agreed between you and the practitioner.


Your commitment to the counselling contract is an essential component of the counselling process, and for you to get the most out of the sessions it is important that you attend regularly and on time. 

If you demonstrate signs of being under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs at an appointment, the appointment will not proceed.

Missed sessions

If you miss a session without informing your counsellor, they will contact you to confirm your next appointment date. You are required to confirm the appointment within 48 hours. If they don't hear from you, they will assume you don't wish to continue counselling and will close your case.

If you know you are going to be late for your session, please contact the Counselling Administrator. If you are late for your session, your counsellor will only be able to see you for the remainder of your session.

Sessions cancelled in advance for the following reasons will not be counted within the total agreed number:

  • exams
  • field-trips
  • hospital appointments
  • hospitalisation
  • cancellation by a practitioner.

All other cancelled and missed sessions for the following reasons will be counted within your total agreed number:

  • illness
  • lectures/tutorials
  • leave outside of Birkbeck holiday dates
  • conflicting appointments.

Failure to attend any two appointments without notice for any of the four reasons above may result in termination of further counselling sessions.

View our Cancelled and Unattended Appointment Policy.

Counselling evaluation

You will be asked to complete a Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation (CORE) questionnaire at every counselling session. This evaluation is strictly confidential and assists staff in ensuring the effectiveness of your experience with the Counselling Service.

A couple of weeks after your counselling has finished we will send you a feedback questionnaire via email. We will ask about your experience of using the service and we would be grateful for your feedback. We are committed to improving the Counselling Service according to student feedback.


If you wish to make a complaint about any aspect of the Birkbeck Counselling Service you should discuss your complaint with your counsellor.  If after this you are still not satisfied, please submit your complaint in writing via email to the