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Email counselling

The Email Counselling Administration day is Thursday - you can register anytime and if we receive your email before 10am on Thursday, you will receive your reply that day.

Please register for EITHER email counselling OR face-to-face counselling (see below for more details*)

FAQs

Why might I choose email counselling?

Email counselling can be useful to work with a range of issues, similar to face to face counselling. You might choose email counselling (instead of face-to-face counselling) because:

  • It gives you an opportunity to write down your issues and see your own words so you can reflect on them·
  • You can read and re-read both what you are writing and what the counsellor is writing – at any time·
  • You can write your email and read the reply at a time convenient for you·
  • It gives you an opportunity for counselling without having to meet someone face-to-face
  • You can work in a ‘virtual counselling relationship’ which, although there are no verbal or visual clues, can be rewarding as you have to be explicit in putting words to your emotions – which can be therapeutic in itself
  • It may be easier for practical reasons, such as if you are studying away from the University, perhaps abroad, or are on teaching practice or another professional placement

*It is important to choose which service you wish to use and then register for EITHER email counselling OR face-to-face counselling, as working with two counsellors at the same time can be counter-productive. The Email Counselling Service is not set up as a stop-gap service before face-to-face counselling.

What is email counselling?

The fundamental principles of email counselling are the same as face to face counselling – but utilise a different medium. Email counselling is available to all students. It has the same overall aim as face-to-face counselling – ie to help ‘develop and fulfil personal and academic potential’. The email counsellors work to the same Code of Ethics, the same confidentiality guidelines (as far as can be expected with a computer-based system of communication) and deal with similar issues as in face to face counselling.

Who are the email counsellors?

We are professionally trained counsellors from the University Counselling Service. In addition, online counsellors have certificates from leading online facilitators such as Jane Evans (OCTC) and Kate Anthony (Online Therapy
Institute). Online trainee counsellors receive regular supervision with qualified counsellors.

Who is the email counselling service for?

The email counselling service is exclusively for registered students (and staff) of the University of Warwick who are otherwise entitled to use the UCS, but who would prefer the opportunity of counselling via email. (NB For students who want specific advice on any matters practical, personal or emotional - the Student Union Advice and Welfare may be contacted in these instances via their website http://www.warwicksu.com/contact/advice/). For students who are suicidal, psychotic, or excessive users of non-prescribed drugs or alcohol, email counselling is not appropriate. If your issues seem urgent and require immediate attention, see the list of resources, contacts and information links.

How does email counselling work?

Email counselling can be helpful as a different way of expressing your self and describing your issues. Through writing an email - up to 500 words - you can get a clearer understanding of your concerns so you can make choices or changes, as necessary. As with face-to-face counselling, email counselling is not about advising you what to do, but can prompt you to think about what you are doing and so develop your own thinking. Occasionally the email counsellor may suggest web links for you to get more information.

You can send your email in to your counsellor whenever you choose (as long as it is received before 10.00am on the Thursday morning) and your counsellor will reply on Thursday. For example, you might send your email at 8pm on Saturday evening and your counsellor will respond on the following Thursday. NB it is not a synchronous system so emails are not read and replied to immediately. If you choose to not respond to the email sent by your email counsellor, you will be sent a 'prompt' email, but if you choose to not reply after that, it will be assumed that you no longer wish to continue. You can re-register at a later date to re-start if necessary.

What about email counselling during vacation times?

The Email Counselling Service is a year-round service and as such operates throughout the university vacations (except when the University is closed down). So, if you are new to the Email Counselling Service, you will receive a response to your first email on the subsequent Thursday at any time of the year. Once you are exchanging emails, your counsellor will keep you informed of any dates when they may not be available (for example, if they are maybe taking leave) so you can plan your own email counselling schedule. Most people find this works well for them.

How long can I have email counselling?

Although there is no specific limit to the number of emails you can write in over the course of your time using the Email Counselling Service, when you have written in approximately 5 times, the counsellor may invite you to summarise what you are learning from the process, ask you to review what is working well, and encourage you to think how you may want to proceed and what you might want to focus on if you continue with email counselling. Often this sort of evaluation can help you to get the most from your email counselling exchanges.

How can I get started with email counselling?

  1. Decide email counselling is appropriate for you
  2. Click on the registration form (you need to be logged in) and check the agreement, so you know what you are signing up to
  3. Complete the online form and click 'send form' to submit
  4. If your form has submitted correctly, you will immediately see a message inviting you to write your first email. You can write approximately up to 500 words (including any attachments) - you can send in your first email straight away - the email address to write to will be on the screen.
  5. You will receive a reply from your email counsellor the following Thursday (and each subsequent Thursday) as long as your email is received before 10.00am on the Thursday morning.

What about confidentiality?

To secure more privacy in your emails, we recommend you use your Warwick email address as we can't guarantee the security and privacy offered by other email accounts.

To uphold the policy of confidentiality, no information is recorded on any central student records. When you register for email counselling, you will be asked for a telephone number in case we need to contact you by phone; your Student Identity number which will be used to check identity if necessary or to carry out random authentication checks (to ensure only students officially registered with Warwick University and entitled to use the Counselling Service are registering for email counselling). The registration form also asks for factual data (including gender, course, age, referral source, etc) and is used to compile anonymous statistics. Once you are undertaking email counselling, email folders are opened to store your emails and all replies accessible by the email counsellors only in password protected files. At the end of each academic year, email folders are archived (unless counselling is continuing). To ensure good professional email counselling practice, any emails sent in to the email counselling service may possibly be looked over and read by one of the email counsellors at any time (ie not just on the allocated Thursdays) but this is not part of ongoing regular procedures.

What if I need urgent help or support?

Any emails submitted are responded to each subsequent Thursday. If you feel you need a more immediate response, you may like to consider accessing a different source of support. You may want to contact NHS Direct for information or your GP surgery (they will have an out of hours service if required) or get in touch with the Samaritans who offer a 24/7 listening service - see the link to other resources for full details. For any on-campus emergency situations, contact security on 02476 522083.

What about technological problems?

Email counselling is, by definition, reliant on computer technology. The Email Counsellors use the Warwick University IT systems. In the event of system failure either within the Warwick University system, or locally to the UCS (University Counselling Service), the counsellors will endeavour to keep you informed as appropriate. If you experience technological difficulties (system or computer/network failure), it is important to keep us informed as appropriate (voicemail messages can be left on the telephone system after office hours 02476 523761).

How can I have my say about the University Email Counselling Service?

The University Counselling Service continually evaluates what it offers and makes improvements where possible so that the Service meets the needs of its users. To this end, when you finish email counselling you will be sent an online questionnaire to complete. You are asked to consider aspects of the email counselling service such as the marketing, and the usefulness of your counselling experience. Each summer the responses are collated and a Service Evaluation Report is published which is made available to management and interested parties. Verbatim responses are included in the report but are not attributed to individuals and are anonymous. All reasonable suggestions for improvement will be considered and your feedback about this service is welcomed.

What if I have further questions about the email counselling service?

If you have any other questions or concerns about the email counselling service, send an email to the UCS general administration email address counselling@warwick.ac.uk or telephone the UCS on 02476 523761 or call in during office hours.

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It's easier to put my words down carefully. I don't like talking about how I feel and writing over email was much easier. It's more approachable."

Very friendly and helpful. It didn't ever feel like they were judging me but they still pushed me to think about the way I dealt with situations and I think it's an excellent idea to use email.

My counsellor was very caring and didn't pressure me to respond, but understood when I was busy and gave me as much time as necessary to think about their answers and implement their advice into my life. However, they regularly checked up on me if they hadn't received a response in a while, so it felt like they really cared.

They gave small chunks of advice every week to make it easy to focus on one thing at a time, and always responded in a way that showed they were "listening" to the problems I spoke about."

Very helpful responses and I was allowed as much
time as I needed to reflect on the advice I was given."

" My counsellor and I worked through issues systematically, and it really helped to understand how they were all linked. I still review the emails in times of need, and overall feel more in control over my relationships and actions now."

It's a good service to just talk to someone and
not let everything get to out of hand without someone there to help"

It's a really good way to get to understand
yourself better in a way that works for you and can fit around your
commitments.

It's really good for organising your thoughts,
and if you're just taking the first steps in talking to people about how you're feeling"

I would say that it is a very good solution to
those who feel that they may not be able to express themselves as well in a face to face environment"

I liked the fact that emailing allowed you to respond to your counsellor in your own time"

I could write out all my thoughts, edit them and be really clear and focused with what I wanted to say in my own time"

the cousellor is very understanding and helpful in that he/she will reccommend resources to help you better yourself"

It was a good way to release some thoughts"

quotes taken from the evaluation questionnaire responses