Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI counselling service

Occasionally, when you are facing personal difficulties, feeling unwell in yourself, feeling lonely or isolated or have recently had a challenging experience that is impacting on your ability to function or achieve your goals, it may be helpful to consider counselling.

RCSI offers a professional independent private counselling service that is available to all RCSI students and located off campus.

Using counselling as a source of support is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is an indication of personal strength and our determination to address and seek solutions to our problems before they potentially overwhelm us and we find ourselves unable to function.

How do I know if I need to see a counsellor?

Everybody has difficulties from time to time. Many of us find it helpful to talk to family, friends or College staff when we have a difficulty. A different perspective or re-assurance from those who care for us is often all that we need to pick ourselves up and start again.

Sometimes, however, this may not be enough and we need help to get ourselves back on track. If you are experiencing difficulties and it is starting to impact negatively on how you are feeling, on your performance or on your ability to do the everyday things you need to do, ask yourself if you might benefit from trying counselling. It’s better to talk to someone early before your difficulty becomes a serious problem and impacts on your health and your ability to engage with or meet the requirements of your programme of studies.

How do I contact the counselling service?

It’s easy. You can contact our student well-being team at swo@rcsi.ie and make an appointment. We’ll arrange a confidential conversation with you to assess and discuss whether counselling might be helpful to you at this time.

Alternatively, we can refer you to RCSI’s GP service. They can also assess your needs and will refer you to the counselling service if this is needed. If you want, you can make your own appointment with the RCSI GP service by contacting them directly.

Finally, you can refer yourself directly to the RCSI counselling service. To do this, you simply contact the service directly. To make an appointment contact cpslmerrion@gmail.com or telephone Maria, the practise secretary, at +353 (0)1 283 9366.

Please note: If you contact the service by email you need to include a personal contact phone number. Please be aware that at certain times of the year, due to high demand on the service, there may be a short wait time on appointments.

What happens in counselling?

Counselling is a process that seeks to help you focus on and understand more clearly the issues that concern or trouble you. The counsellor's role is to offer support and understanding, and to listen and respond in a non-judgmental way. S/he will respect your values, choices and lifestyle. Counselling can also help you explore your feelings and discover what lies behind whatever seems challenging or confusing. Counselling can also help with making decisions, choices or changes that are right for you. You may also benefit from specialised counselling. If so, we will explore options to facilitate this.

What sort of problems can be helped through counselling?

Most personal, relationship or identity problems can be helped through counselling. This includes anxiety, stress and depression, family and/or relationship difficulties, sexual problems and identity issues. Counselling can also help with other issues such as: adjusting to a new culture, dealing with dilemmas, making difficult decisions or choices, bereavement, difficulties affecting study and bullying and harassment.

How does it work?

Each counselling session lasts about 50 minutes where you will have an opportunity to talk and make sense of what is going on for you. Counsellors will not be able to provide instant solutions but will listen and facilitate an increasing awareness of yourself and your choice of possibilities.

How many sessions can I have?

In most cases, students attend counselling for a relatively short period of time. RCSI will cover the cost of a minimum of 10 sessions for you. However, if it is recommended that you continue your counselling for longer than 10 sessions, consideration will be given to this on a case by case basis. If you require the service on a long-term basis, your counsellor will discuss funding options with you during your appointments.

Who are the counsellors?

The service is staffed by a team of trained and accredited counsellors and therapists. The counsellors are all experienced in helping people from many different backgrounds and cultures, and with a wide range of personal and academic issues. Please note that none of the counsellors are staff members of RCSI or directly connected to the College.

Is the service confidential?

Just like any medical professional, the counselling service is bound to strict confidentiality. Your counsellor will not make any contact with your family, your lecturers, your doctor etc., unless you explicitly ask them to do so. Similarly RCSI will not be informed that you are attending counselling neither will any information be kept on your student record or transcript. You can be confident that whatever issues you discuss with your counsellor will not have an impact your academic life in RCSI.

However, in some exceptional circumstances student counsellors are obliged by their professional code of ethics to breach confidentiality.

This includes the following:

 

  • if there is a significant and immediate risk of a client harming themselves or others;
  • if there are serious concerns about the welfare of a minor (for instance reported child abuse in the family);
  • if a client is involved in a court case, and case notes are subpoenaed by a judge.

 

If any of this were to occur, the student counsellor would very carefully consider whether a breach of confidentiality is necessary. Before taking any steps, they would discuss the matter openly with you, wherever possible. In your first meeting with your counsellor, they will explain all this to you and answer any questions you may have about confidentiality.

What happens at my first appointment?

The first appointment is with a clinical psychologist. The purpose of this appointment is to have an initial discussion as to how counselling may be of benefit to you. If you have a request to be seen on a particular site (e.g. a counsellor who is located close to Beaumont Hospital) or if you have any other preferences (e.g. male or female counsellor), we will try our best to accommodate you.

Following this appointment if you, together with the psychologist, agree that counselling would be helpful, you will then be referred to a counsellor.

Remember if you are seeing a counsellor for a first appointment you do not commit yourself to further sessions and sometimes one session can be enough for students. If in doubt whether counselling is really necessary or the right thing for you, do not hesitate to make an appointment. You can talk openly to your counsellor about your doubts, and - in consultation with your counsellor - you will decide yourself whether you want to come in for more sessions of counselling.

How much does it cost?

All counselling sessions are free of charge and RCSI covers a minimum of 10 sessions for each student. If you require the service on a long term basis, your counsellor will discuss funding options with you during your appointments.