A pluralistic approach to student counselling

Marcia Stoll, John McLeod

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


    Counselling and psychotherapy services in colleges and universities are facing unprecedented challenges, with high levels of student stress and mental health difficulties – increasing demand combined with limited resources – with research indicating that this is a global concern.1,2 Headlines such as ‘One in three freshers show symptoms of mental health disorder’ and ‘UK universities act to tackle student mental health crisis’ dominate our news and highlight the current focus on student mental health.3,4

    Previous research focuses on the effectiveness of university counselling services for academic outcomes and wellbeing, or on how to meet the needs of international students. There is, however, a paucity of research into counselling provision for college students, so perhaps this is something we also need to consider and address. Within the UK alone, students represent a highly diverse client group, including individuals from across the whole range of nationality, ethnicity, religion, age and social class. In addition, the kinds of problems reported by students are extremely varied, encompassing long-term mental health issues, study-related issues (perfectionism, procrastination and imposter syndrome) and a spectrum of situational crises around relationships, adjustment to university life, containment of privacy (such as controlling the impact of social media), existential crises, isolation and debt.

    In response to these unique demands of study, it is essential for services to be able to offer a flexible, yet robust approach that is responsive to students’ needs. So the question here is: ‘How can we, as practitioners, respond to meeting this varied and increasing need within the services we currently offer?’
    Original languageEnglish
    Specialist publicationUniversity and College Counselling
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


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