University Counselling Service Annual Report 2005-06

1.0 Introduction and Overview of the UCS

This report is presented by Shirley Crookes, Acting Head of the University Counselling Service. It aims to provide an overview of activities of the University of Warwick Counselling Service for the academic year 2005-06.The report includes an overview of the University Counselling Service (hereafter referred to as the UCS), a summary of the key tasks and activities of the UCS throughout the year, details and analysis of client profile and service usage, and a summary of key observations and conclusions from the year.The Appendices include the Service Evaluation Report 2005-06 in full, which is the result of the annual survey of UCS users who are asked to comment on their experience of the UCS with respect to issues such as publicity (marketing, first contact experience and efficiency), accommodation and venue of the UCS, the counselling experience (waiting times, confidentiality satisfaction, impact and efficacy), recommendations for improvements and overall satisfaction.

The UCS is managed by the University Senior Tutor and the department has been historically referred to as the Senior Tutor’s Office. The department also incorporates the Disability section. The UCS comprises a team of 5 core counsellors and shares a Departmental Secretary with the Senior Tutor and the Disability section. 3 of the counsellors work to 0.75 time posts and 2 to 0.625 (5/8ths) time posts creating a total of 3.5 full-time equivalent counsellors. Additional counsellor hours are ‘bought in’ with sessional counsellors providing 9 hours per week term time only over 20 weeks to help manage demand on the service. The UCS team also incorporates placements in training.

The UCS is located within the Student Development and Support Centre in University House alongside the departments of Student Funding, Careers and Warwick Skills. The UCS recognises that student support services are an integral part of the educational establishment, enabling students and staff to fulfil the primary tasks of teaching, learning and research. Counselling is a specialist area within this range of services.

The mission of the UCS, in line with the mission statement of the University of Warwick, is to ‘provide an opportunity for all students at any level and at any time of study at the University of Warwick to access professional therapeutic counselling so that they may better develop and fulfil their personal, academic and professional potential’. The service is also available to staff to help develop their potential as employees of the University. As the UCS Charter outlines, the primary task of the UCS is to

‘work with students and staff who choose to come for counselling with emotional/psychological issues so as to bring about therapeutic change enabling them to become more effective in their lives within and outside the institution’.

Our principle belief is that if students (and staff) are functioning well psychologically and emotionally, they are more able to function to their potential academically and professionally.

2.0 Key Tasks and Activities for the UCS during 2005-06

The task of the UCS is to provide a comprehensive counselling service for students and staff. Approximately 75% of counselling staff time is expended on the delivery of one-to-one face to face counselling work. The counselling staff also acts in a consultancy capacity, available to all staff, particularly (in practice) to personal tutors and residential tutors. These staff members are invited to approach the UCS regarding support and guidance on best practice when, for example, dealing with a student in distress.

During the academic year 2005-06 the counselling team also undertook specific tasks:

Counselling staff also continued working on:

Counsellors also attend weekly Departmental Team meetings, termly meetings with the GPs from the Campus Health Centres and welfare net meetings as appropriate. Two full-team ‘away days’ were scheduled in December and July to review and plan, respectively.

Individual counsellors are responsible for ensuring they undertake continuous professional development in line with their professional body’s requirements (BACP) including attendance at relevant conferences and workshops. During 2005/06, UCS had representation at:

‘AUCC Conference: ‘Riding the Waves, Stemming the Tide’ Bangor University 20-23/06/06

‘Focal Brief Therapy’ UCE 14-15/09/05

‘Personal Constructs in Action’ Clinical Psychologist in house 12/12/05

‘Working with Survivors of Sexual Abuse’ Safeline 13/05/06

‘Online Counselling’ – Kate Antony Associates 01-05/06

‘Sexuality and Spirituality’ Bradley and Murphy. Joint training, Coventry and Warwick Universities 10/03/06

‘Suicide Prevention – Everybody’s Business’ St Michael’s NHS Crisis Team 15/02/06

‘Motivating the Team’ Charterhouse 13/02/06

‘Dealing with Depression’ Dorothy Rowe (Psychology Department) 20/04/06

‘Basic Management Skills’ Mentor Group 11/11/05

‘Recruitment and Selection’ Personnel University of Warwick 17/03/06

‘Interview Skills’ Personnel University of Warwick 25/11/06

‘Understanding the Management of the University of Warwick’< 9/6/06

‘Managing Change for Managers’ 15/6/06

‘Teaching with Emotional Intelligence’ CAP 14/3/06

‘Procrastination’ Birmingham University 24/11/06

‘Legal aspects of Mental Health, Referral and the Psychiatric Services’ Postgraduate Medical Centre, Banbury 08/06/06

MA Pastoral Theology – taster day University of Wales 03/05/06

‘The Self: singular, plural or both?’ Godfrey Barrett-Lennard, Counselling Works, Milton Keynes 08/07/06

‘Basic Management Skills’ (Mentor Group) 29/06/06

BABCP Annual Conference and Workshops 19-21/07/06

3.0 Staffing

The number of staff remains the same as per the statistics in the Annual Report of 2004-05 for both counselling staff and administrative (secretarial) staff. The current FTE (full-time equivalent) number of counselling staff employed at the University of Warwick UCS is 3.5.  This translates as a ratio of 1 counsellor for every 7250 potential clients.  Funding is made available on an ad hoc request basis to pay for sessional counsellors to work in the department, this year for a total of 195 hours over the whole academic year. 

The work and responsibilities of the Departmental Secretary initially supported 2 FTE staff.  This has increased to 5.5 FTE plus support for the Disability support workers and sessional counsellors: 11 people in total.  

Throughout the academic year, the UCS has made efforts to streamline its efficiency in allocating appointments and has been creative in diversifying what services it can offer. 

4.0 Details and Analysis of Client Profile and Service Usage 2005-06

NB all statistics are approximate and no responsibility can be taken for their absolute accuracy

4.1 Client Profile


67% of clients were female and 33% male. The gender distribution of the undergraduate student population ratio is 1:1 (NB statistics are not available as to the total university population to include postgraduate students and staff members). This indicates that male clients are under-represented in the UCS by 1/3 as a proportion of the population. This is not unusual in the education sector throughout counselling services nationally (66% female, 34% male according to AUCC Annual Survey 03/04). This phenomena is seen to be partly a cultural issue, ie females generally access talking therapies in the UK more than males. There has been an insignificant increase in male usage of 2% since the previous year.


Not unexpectedly, the majority of clients using the UCS are 20 years old. There is a significant number who are 30+.

Number of clients who consider themselves disabled

The percentage of students who were classified as having a disability in 2005/06 was 3.44 so the UCS could be said to be reaching an appropriate number of clients with disability as a proportion of the total student population.


The majority (79%) of clients using the counselling service indicate that they consider their ethnic background to be white. The category ‘white’ includes a wide variety of cultures from Europe and beyond. Approximately 50% of the University population of undergraduate and postgraduate students indicate that they are white. The national average for clients who use university counselling services is traditionally below the proportionate representation for non-white ethnicities. There is no difference in the percentage of white clients using the service from this academic year to the previous academic year.

Classification of student origin

Students were asked to identify whether they were classed as home, EU or international. The vast majority of student clients who use the UCS indicate they are classed as home students (80%, compared to 82% the previous year). The University collates its figures by adding together UK and EU students. With this in mind, the University has (very approximately) 3.75 times more home and EU students than international. The UCS has 5.75 times more home and EU students than international. This could indicate that international students are under-represented as users of the UCS.

Staff and Student Usage






The majority of clients who make use of the UCS are students (87%). This is a ratio of approximately 6:1 whereas the population of the University holds an approximate ratio of 4:1 of students:staff who are eligible to use the UCS. This may indicate that staff are under-using the service but this could be due to their active choice and ability to access other external resources. The UCS is marketed to staff via an information leaflet about staff counselling which is sent out in the welcome pack via Personnel to all newly-appointed members of staff. There is also a section on the UCS website dedicated to staff counselling, written and managed by the UCS.

Course of study

This section shows the usage of the UCS by students from individual courses in each faculty. The graphs show numbers of students (rather than percentages). High volume of usage could indicate an effective personal tutor system wherein students are encouraged to make full and efficient use of the UCS, or it could indicate a lack of engagement by students of their personal tutor system.

In total, 107 students from the Faculty of Arts used the UCS, which is equivalent to 4.4% of the population of students in the Faculty of Arts.

1.7% of the students studying in the Faculty of Science used the UCS (101 students).

1.4% of students from the Faculty of Social Studies used the UCS (107 students).

0.5% of students enrolled in the medicine faculty used the UCS (27 students).

Level of Course being Studied

The majority of student users of the UCS are undergraduates (71% compared to 77% the previous year) which is slightly more (14%) than the percentage of total student undergraduates enrolled at the University (who make up 63%). No information is available to make comparisons for specific (Masters, PGCE, PhD levels) post graduate percentage usage, but, suffice to say that 37% of the total student population was enrolled in postgraduate study and make up 23% of the total student usage of the UCS.

Year of Study

The statistics reveal that there is no significant point in a student’s career in which seeking counselling is vastly more prevalent. The fact that there are more first years from a 3 year course could be that there are more courses that are 3 years. There is a similar number of finalists to 1st years.

Full-time/Part-time Students

Only 3% of students identified as part-time students rather than full-time. Information is not available to check this percentage against the overall percentage of part-time students to ensure the UCS is adequately reaching the part-time student population.

Staff Classification

Staff were asked to indicate whether they were classed as academic, academic-related, administrative or ancillary. Academic staff make up 36% of the total staff employed by the University; 38% of staff users of the UCS class themselves as academic, an increase from 28% the previous year. This 10% increase may indicate increased levels of stress experienced by academic members of staff, or may be due to more academic staff being aware of the UCS due to the Departmental Consultancy initiative raising the profile of the service. Significantly only 5% of the total clients who are staff members are from the ‘ancillary’ classification. Otherwise there appears a relatively even spread throughout the staff range (although no figures are available for numbers to calculate percentages of academic related, administrative or ancillary staff).

Full-time/Part-time Staff

The University employs a ratio of 2.7:1 full time to part time staff. This would indicate that the UCS is generally continuing to proportionally reach both full and part-time staff appropriately.

4.2 Service Usage


Users of the UCS are asked to indicate how they know about the service. Over half (55%) of all respondents were told about the service, ie through ‘word of mouth’ (this may include referrers such as a GP, tutor, etc). A significant percentage (29%) continues to locate the service on the website. Significantly few are aware of the service through a poster or leaflet, probably due to the limited amount of paper publicity posted by the UCS. No paper posters are displayed around campus. Limited signage is visible only when inside the atrium of University House where the UCS is housed.


Users are asked to indicate who referred them to the service. The percentage of self-referrals (49%) is similar to the previous year (50%). The referral percentage from resident tutors is still proportionally low (3% this year, 4% last year) which may be further evidence to support the notion that the UCS needs to be more involved in the training of new resident tutors to improve the referral relationship. Despite the initiative launched this year to develop departmental links, the referrals from personal tutors have only increased from last year by 4%. NB ‘other’ as defined in this category includes: the Senior Tutor, the Disability Co-ordinator and other unspecified.


Most clients indicate that they are definitely or probably staying on at the University (86%) however a significant percentage indicate that they are unsure or are considering leaving (13%). Comparing this percentage to the exit statistics of those clients at the end of their course of counselling who are staying on at the University (97%) may indicate a significant retention factor, ie it could be said that the UCS is responsible for helping to retain 10% of its clientele who are initially considering leaving the University. This is supported by evidence from the Service Evaluation survey where a significant number of respondents (an average of staff and students = approximately 40%) indicated that counselling through the UCS helps them, among other things, to choose to stay on in the University.


Patterns of New Registration for Counselling

(The graph does not show registrations that occur throughout vacations.)

The graph shows that the peak time for registering is week 2 of the first term (October). The most new registrations submitted in one week was 25 and the least number was 3 in week 8 of term 3. The average number of new registrations per week over the whole year is 14.

Term 1: The peak registration time in term 1 is week 2. Particularly active times in term 1 include week 1, week 2, week 7 (end of October, November).

Term 2: The peak registration times in term 2 is week 8 (End of February). Particularly active times for registration include week 9, week 2, week 3 and week 6 (end of January, mid February).

Term 3: The peak registration time in term 3 is week 2 (end of April). Particularly active times for registration include week 1. There is a significant drop in registrations in week 8 (perhaps due to the exam period).

No statistics are available for comparison for previous years.

Days wait from registration to first appointment offered

series 1 = term 1

series 2 = term 2

series 3 = term 3

The graph shows the average numbers of days waiting from registration to being offered a counselling appointment. It must be noted that ‘days waiting’ include business days (ie Monday to Friday inclusive) but not weekends. The wait is averaged out over all clients who have registered in the week.

average number of days on list













week 4




week 5




week 6




week 7




week 8




week 9




week 10




The mean wait timethroughout the year was 11 business days. The average wait time overall is 13.5 business days. The average business days wait time each term is

Term 1: 10

Term 2: 20

Term 3: 10

The peak for waiting time was at the end of January (term 2, week 3) where some clients waited 26 business days (the peak for days waiting the previous year was 32 business days) before being offered a first appointment.

The longest wait in real terms was 44 business days and the shortest wait was 1 day. The statistics skew over vacation periods as the UCS offers a skeleton service.

Numbers Offered Appointments

Throughout the academic year, 566 people were offered counselling appointments which is (very approximately) 2.8% of the total student and staff population. 1.2% of the total staff population arranged an appointment for counselling with the UCS and 3.2% of the student population arranged an appointment for counselling with the UCS. According to a report in the Guardian (Alice Carfelt, Thursday 12th January 2006), between 4 and 10% of student populations seek counselling. The UCS is cautious to strategically manage our profile (through minimal advertising, no face-to-face involvement at inductions etc) so that the demand for the service does not exceed resources to such an extent as to render the UCS inefficient. We are, however, keen to raise our profile as we believe greater understanding of our task will better serve the University community but are aware that with current resources (numbers of counselling appointments available, space and administrative support) it is not sensible to market the service more widely and thus invite more clients, despite feedback in the Service Evaluation from clients who consistently feel that the service is not marketed well enough.

Number of times seen

Most clients are seen in 1-3 appointments. The average number of sessions per client is 4.5 (reduced from 5.4 in 2004-05). In 2004-05, 44% of clients were seen between 1 and 3 times which was increased to 52% of clients who were seen between 1 and 3 times in 2005-06. This continues to demonstrate our commitment to time-conscious contracting of therapeutic frameworks where possible and appropriate. The range of student issues means that it is inevitable that some counselling relationships need to be protracted, although the statistics show that only 3% (5% in 2004-05) of clients are seen more than 16 times. The number of first time non-attendance for appointments is lower than other University Counselling Services throughout the academic year.

Issues brought to counselling

Often clients may present and work with a variety of issues but for the purpose of these statistics, one ‘main issue’ discussed is recorded. The categories used are defined by AUCC as follows:


Includes: childhood and adult sexual abuse, psychological/emotional, physical abuse either recent or past; domestic abuse; rape; violent crime; prejudice and harassment; may include perpetrators and victims


Includes: academic performance anxiety; procrastination of academic tasks; concerns re academic functioning


Includes: panic disorder; panic attacks (mild to severe); generalised anxiety; specific anxiety; worry; stress; phobia; post traumatic stress disorder

Addictive behaviours

Includes: OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder); compulsive behaviour and/or thinking; addictions (food; gambling (including internet); alcohol; sex; drugs; other); addictive patterns of behaviour (over-work; self sabotage; other)

Depression and mood change or disorder

Includes: medicated (clinical) depression; low mood; suicidal ideation; suicidal thought; hopeless/helplessness; SAD (Seasonal affective disorder); mood swings; manic-depressive symptoms


Includes: bereavement (may be recent or past); prospective bereavement; significant loss (eg status; work; relationship); separation anxiety

Mental Health conditions

Includes: psychosis; psychotic behaviour; personality disorder; schizophrenia; bi-polar affective disorder; delusional disorder; etc

Physical health

Includes: ill-health (long term; short term); injury; physical disorders

Eating disorders

Includes: anorexia; bulimia; obesity; general food distress; distorted relationships with food


Includes: specific relationship issues (eg with family; partner; tutor; peer-group); relationship break-down; relationship problems; problems with engaging in relationships; dysfunctional relating (sexual, psychological); problems with social relating; loneliness; negotiating stages of relationship; fear of intimacy

Self and identity

Includes: issues about self-esteem; self concept; self-confidence; self-consciousness; adequacy; identity (sexual, cultural, etc); struggles of independence or maturation; existential issues

Sexual issues

Includes: sexual orientation concerns; transvestisism; sexual dysfunction; trans-gender issues; issues about sexual relations; sexual health matters; pregnancy;


Includes: managing changes re academic issues; cultural changes; maturation stages; decision making; separation anxiety


Includes: psychological impact of practical issues such as accommodation; finance; etc and issues relating to employment welfare

Self Harm

Includes: harming self through cutting/burning/punching/bleaching/biting/other methods, severity ranges from moderate to disabling

Main issues presented to the UCS

The most prevalent issues presented to the UCS are depression, anxiety, relationships and identity which are generally in line with the national statistics compiled of other University Counselling Services throughout the UK (according to annually published AUCC survey) and do not differ substantially from 2004-05.

Severity of Problems

Severity of issue is calculated using the AUCC 8 point severity categorisation where 0 is very mild and 7 is the most severe. For the academic year 2005-06, the level of severity in clients was rated as follows:

Percentage of clients

No. on scale

Scale category

Definition of scale



very mild

client concern presents only minor difficulty




concern is contained, not effecting other parts of life and impact is not unusual




a difficult situation is being dealt with but at emotional cost, or when there is considerable distress but functioning is ok



moderately severe

evidence of distress and functioning affected




loss of sense of control; coping to some extent but at great emotional cost



very severe

functioning significantly affected; a sense of holding things together only with great difficulty; very distressed and fearful; may have suicidal thought



Extremely severe

functioning with extreme difficulty; desperate; highly distressed and anxious, may be acting

out and have loss of hope or sense of

unreality; may include suicidal thought




distraught; unstable; functionality

overwhelmed; suicidal thought and intent evident

There is no significant change in percentage of severity at peak since 2004-05. NB The Mental Health Co-ordinator was appointed and took up post in Easter 2005 so can not in this time period be expected to show a significant impact in the severity scales presenting to the UCS at this point.

Departmental Consultancy Initiative

In October 2005, in response to the increasing levels of student distress in all academic departments, the UCS launched a pioneering initiative to develop a departmental consultancy scheme. Each counsellor was allocated specific academic departments. The aim was to develop a working alliance with each academic department to help reduce the workload for academic staff. The objective was that each UCS consultant could be a named link person to facilitate continuity of communication if, for example, tutors needed guidance in dealing with a student in distress. The ‘link person’ could help negotiate a referral to an appropriate resource and also be involved in developing and facilitating initiatives such as course-specific workshops for students and/or staff as appropriate. It was suggested that departments invite their link person to departmental meetings to ‘put a face to a name’ and begin to establish a useful working relationship. Throughout 2005-06 each counsellor contacted their allocated departmental contacts, as named by the Senior Tutor (Dr Byrd), via email and snail mail to keep them abreast of activities within the UCS.

Some departments responded openly and promptly and have begun to develop useful working relationships with their UCS consultant and report feeling better informed as to the workings of the counselling team and indeed how to manage students in distress. Some departments are yet to respond.

Table showing Departments in each Faculty, the Name of the Link Person, and the Contact to Date:

Faculty of Arts

Link person

To date

Comparative American studies

Anthea Pablow

No response

Classics and Ancient History

Anthea Pablow

No response

English & Comp. Lit. studs

Samantha Tarren

No response

Film & TV

Samantha Tarren

No response

French Studies

Linda Watkinson

No response

German Studies

Anthea Pablow

Request for advice and information from lecturer


Shirley Crookes

Email contact

History of Art

Samantha Tarren

Invited to staff meeting 15th Feb 06; visit to UCS by Senior Tutor (Rosie Dias); various email correspondence


Linda Watkinson

No response


Samantha Tarren

Invited to departmental meeting 6 July 05 (Sheena Gardener); received copy of PT operations

Theatre Studies

Linda Watkinson

No response

Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies      

Richard Worsley

One telephone conversation with ST

Faculty of Science

Link person

To date

Biological Sciences

Linda Watkinson

No response


Anthea Pablow

Visit to UCS from Senior Tutor in 2003

Computer Science

Richard Worsley

No response


Shirley Crookes

Visit to UCS Jan Rakels, continued email correspondence.


Anthea Pablow

Invited to informal meeting for new personal tutors

16 November 2006


Anthea Pablow


Richard Worsley

Visited department twice and gave presentation to staff, conjointly with Jane Abson (Disability Co-ordinator)


Samantha Tarren

No response


Samantha Tarren

Visit to UCS from Senior Tutor (Martin Skinner) 18 Dec 06; discussion re text in handbook

Warwick HRI

Linda Watkinson

E-mail correspondence leading to meeting academic year 2006/7

Faculty of Social Studies

Link person

To date


Shirley Crookes

Visit to UCS by Sue Deebank; continued email correspondence.


Anthea Pablow

No response


Shirley Crookes

Visit to UCS by Judith Everington. Attended several departmental meeting for both u/g and p/g. Continued email correspondence


Richard Worsley

One brief contact with ST – received prospectus.


Richard Worsley

Visited department and met ST. Contact with two other tutors on a number of occasions


Richard Worsley

One visit and met ST. Agreed need for further training of personal tutors in light of culture issues. No further contact yet.

Sociology (inc Gender Studies and Health and Social Studies)

Linda Watkinson

Meeting with Senior Tutor (Caroline Wright) Nov 05. Invited to Departmental Meeting Feb 06.Various e-mail telephone contacts. New counselling page devised for Sociology handbook July 06.

Faculty of Medicine

Link person

To date


Richard Worsley

Fairly extensive contact with three senior staff and one tutor. Ongoing consultation with Gill Grimshaw with view to reviewing and possibly contributing to support systems for medical students. In progress: training for secretarial staff as frontline listeners.

5.0 Summary of Observations and Recommendations



key tasks and activities

The UCS offers a comprehensive counselling service for staff and students

Continue to offer a professional service

Demand outstrips resource, despite minimal ‘marketing’; responding creatively to need is demanding

Continue considering and monitoring creative strategies to managing demand

The UCS is pioneering and inventive in its ventures eg email counselling; departmental consultancy; therapeutic groups; self help resource centre, etc

Continue to develop the UCS to offer a range of services

The UCS team is dedicated, professional and keen to develop the service

Continue to develop UCS staff and UCS potential


The counselling staff ratio is insufficient, especially as the number of potential users rises

Continue to bid for more counselling resources

The administration of the service is under pressure

Continue to bid for more administrative resources

The UCS would benefit from addressing the staffing structure

Appoint a counselling professional, as recommended by BACP, to manage the UCS

client profile

The UCS generally appropriately serves the University of Warwick community (in terms of age, disability, ethnicity, origin, staff/ student, course, year, classification)

Continue to monitor client profile and target as required

service usage

The use of technology (for registration, evaluation and website information is increasing

Adequate support/time needs to be available to manage IT

Monitoring peak times for registration and wait times shows demand

Continue to monitor demand and respond accordingly

Anxiety, depression, relationships and self/identity are the key issues brought to the UCS

Consider developing specific support for these issues

The severity of psychological disturbance of clients using the UCS is still high

Continue to monitor severity rates in light of the Mental Health co-ordinator post

The departmental consultancy initiative is underused at present

Develop the initiative

Service Evaluation (see full Service Evaluation Report for more details)

availability: provision of service needs clear explanation (‘marketing’)

Provide clear explanation of what is available, when it is available and how to access it

accommodation and venue: there is concern about the adequacy of the UCS space (location, reception and waiting areas)

Ensure accommodation meets standards of privacy and comfort

satisfaction of experience: waiting times are not expedient but counselling is generally useful and effective

Ensuring waiting for counselling is informed and minimal

Maintain high standards of counselling


The University Counselling Service is currently working to its capacity to sustain high professional and ethical standards. In order for this to continue there is an inevitable need to invest in resources. The Service strives to meet the changing and expanding needs of the University population whilst maintaining this high level of professionalism through diversification and continual monitoring and evaluation of provision.

The UCS is a dynamic department with an essential role in supporting the primary task of the University of Warwick with a staff team that is dedicated, professional and willing to develop opportunities to take the service forward to meet the challenges of the future.


This report has been compiled and collated by Samantha Tarren, a member of the University Counselling Service, with support from the Counselling Service Team.

University Counselling Service Annual Report 2005-06 29