The Student Counselling service is a place where students can take their problems in complete confidence.
It is likely that at some stage during your time at St. Goerge's or in your later careers you will experience problems or difficulties of some sort - and in fact you would be most unusual if you didn’t! Whilst talking things through with a friend can be very helpful, there are times when friends are not available or it just feels too difficult or too personal. Your personal tutor may be able to help, but you may prefer to see someone who is separate and removed from the academic and assessment process, where you can be sure of confidentiality.
Here you will find an objective listener who will encourage you to talk about whatever may be troubling you, and help you to find your own solutions.
The counsellors are qualified, experienced and friendly.
The service is free, entirely confidential and is open to all St George’s students. Although it is popular, the counsellors guarantee an appointment within two weeks.
The Counsellors are:
Meg Errington, Sheila Root, Susan Murphy & John Taggart
It couldn’t be easier:
Just book an appointment via https://portal.sgul.ac.uk/services/counsellors. The student counselling service lives on Level Two of Hunter Wing (take a left on leaving the lift area with Eddie Wilson's in front of you and continue to the end of the corridor where it’s on your left).
Call up directly: (020) 8725 3628 [ext 3628]
There are also 3 open sessions every week, which do not require booking in advance. These are on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 12pm-1pm.
An Interview with one of the Counsellors
How do you see your role?
We’re here to offer some support to students who are going through what can be at times a pretty difficult and stressful course in order to qualify as a health-care professional. There are times for most of them when things get quite tough. Problems may arise either within or outside the medical school or it may be a combination of the two and we provide a place for people to come and find a way of sorting through those problems.
How many sessions do people normally come for?
Sometimes people come for just one session, sometimes for six or more. We are able to offer a very flexible service here.
How does simply talking about problems help them to be resolved?
I think part of the trouble with problems is that one doesn’t always know quite what they are, or where to go with them. If somebody who is objective and detached from those problems, not too involved, asks you a lot of questions about them, you are really forced to articulate them for yourself. In doing that you begin to understand for yourself what your problem is and what to do about it.
So you think it’s valuable to have a place to go that is separate from your everyday life?
Well I think friends and other people you talk to are extremely useful but they can never be entirely objective. There are also some things that you can’t talk to friends about for one reason or another. They may just be too closely connected, or the problems may be too personal.
What type of students use the counselling service?
There’s no ‘type’ of student who uses the counselling service. They’re a complete mixture. It is available to everyone who studies at St George’s.
Do you think students have particular problems that other people don’t?
Yes. Partly because of what you’re studying. For instance when you are faced with life and death situations and you feel that you have to be responsible for sorting that out, or you certainly will one day, I think that puts a terrific weight on somebody who is more often that not still quite young. I think some of the most difficult areas are often those where there is no real right or wrong answer. Some of the things one has to deal with and understand often make you think about yourself and your own life in a way which is not that easy to cope with.
Do you find that people often leave it very late until coming to see you?
One of the problems is leaving things until too late. People feel sometimes that they don’t want to take up our time. They’re afraid we are very busy and their problem is much too small. We far prefer people to come when they first realise they are worried or unhappy, because the earlier people come; the easier it is to do something about it. I think healthcare students often have a particular resistance to acknowledging they have problems and seeking help. They think they should be helping others and they might be seen as weak if they admit to having problems themselves. In fact it is a sign of psychological strength when you are prepared to be open about your own issues. I think this is being increasingly recognised in the training of healthcare professionals.
Why do you feel that counselling is a valuable service for students?
I think partly because it is so separate from the School. It is confidential, detached and independent. Although it is provided by the School, the School fully realises that it needs to be completely separate from them.
If someone is thinking about coming to see you how do they go about it?
Simple. Give us a ring or come to the counselling offices where there is a booking chart. Find an empty space and put a cross in it. There’s also a booking slip which you put into the confidential post-box on the wall.