Counselling service

Counselling at Churchill

The College provides a confidential, inclusive counselling service for students. You can talk to the Counsellor about any personal issue that is troubling you.

Counselling provides a safe and accepting space to be heard whatever your background, identity or race. The Counsellor is trained to listen carefully and respectfully to help you validate your experience, work through the issues you bring and strengthen your ability to cope. Counselling aims to relieve your distress, increase your personal understanding and widen the options you feel you have.

You can use counselling to help you address any personal issue from immediate concerns to longer-term problems. Issues people bring include, abuse, anxiety, bereavement, depression, eating disorders, family difficulties, identity, procrastination, racism, relationships or social concerns, self-harm, settling in, sexual harassment, sexuality, stress and suicidal feelings.

Talking to family, friends or other staff can be very helpful, but counselling provides another option if you want to talk to someone separate from the rest of your life who is professionally trained and who has time for you.

While meeting in person is restricted, the counsellor is providing video or phone appointments using Zoom or a similar platform. Text sessions are a further option if phone or video are not suitable. Remote appointments will usually be 50 minutes long although 30 minute sessions are also possible.

The Counsellor, Tim Ellis, is professionally trained and registered and has a wide range of experience, especially in working with students from a diverse range of backgrounds. Before booking an appointment, if you have any questions about the counselling process, you're welcome to email him. If the counsellor judges it appropriate and likely to be helpful, it may be possible to arrange to see another, female, counsellor.


Please email the Counsellor to request an appointment and say something about what brings you to counselling now. The Counsellor will normally reply within 24 hours. Because of demand, the counselling is usually short term and at busy times there may be a wait for an initial appointment. However, there is some flexibility and the Counsellor will let you know when the first appointment will be.

The Counsellor can also help you find other support if you decide this would be more helpful.


Appointments are offered on weekdays flexibly throughout the day depending upon your availability. If you are overseas, the appointment time will take into account your time zone.

The counselling service is open for most of the year, mainly during term time. You can email at any time.


Although in person counselling sessions are not generally available at the moment, they will resume when it is possible to do so.

Taster sessions

If you're new to counselling, you're welcome to arrange a 30 minute session to get a feel for it. Or you can book a 50 minute session knowing that you don't have to use all the time.

Other counselling available

The University Counselling Service is providing remote counselling appointments to students in the UK and 30-50 welfare appointments to students overseas. The website includes a large number of self-help leaflets with information about a range of common difficulties. It also provides a comprehensive list of other sources of help and advice


Out of hours support

Samaritans, Cambridge Branch is the local branch of a national service for people in distress or despair. Calls may be answered by someone in a different branch. You can use the service if you are currently outside the UK.

The Cambridge branch is not currently open for personal visits.

Available for phone and email contact: 24 hours, every day.
In the UK Tel: 116 123
Outside the UK Tel: +44 (0)330 094 5717
Calls from abroad are charged at international rates and the call will appear on your bill.

NHS 111 Service: In the UK you can message or telephone the NHS for mental (or physical) health information and the contact details of local services. The online service will not require a wait. It is not possible to use this service outside the UK.

Tel: 111

The Sanctuary is an NHS service providing a safe place for people in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis. It is still open normal hours.

Open: 6pm–1am every day
Tel: 111, option 2 

Nightline will be closed in Easter Term 2020. It normally offers a helpline run by students for students in Cambridge. When open you can phone, instant message, email or Skype.

Open: 7pm–7am in full-term only
Skype: Cambridge.Nightline
Tel: 01223 744 444

Saneline is a national mental helpline providing specialist emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by a mental health issue or crisis, including friends and family. Although the helpline is not open as normal, you can leave a message and they will call you back as soon as they can.

Tel: 07984 967 708 and leave a message with your first name and a contact number.

The NHS has a list of other helplines, some relating to specific issues.

Confidentiality and Data Protection

All personal information provided to the counselling service is confidential and private, and no information will be passed on to anyone else without your consent. The only exception to this is if you, or someone else, are at risk of significant harm; or when the College is legally obliged to do so.

Minimal confidential and anonymous case notes are kept, stored separately from a list of names and email addresses. The information is securely stored on the Churchill College IT system, or in a locked filing cabinet. This information is not shared (unless you request it to be shared) and used only to facilitate ongoing counselling work (the only exception, as stated above, if there is a serious and imminent risk to safety). This information is kept according to the Records Retention Schedule of the College for 7 years and then deleted.  The counsellor’s personal and more detailed case notes are shredded at the end of the work with you.  You can request to see or have a copy of the data that is held or withdraw your consent at any time by contacting   

You will be asked to electronically sign a form confirming your understanding and consent to these arrangements prior to your first video or audio session.

Ethical standards and complaints

The Counsellor is professionally registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) and abides by its Code of Ethics and Professional Practice

If you have a complaint, you are welcome to raise it directly with the Counsellor either during a session or at another time, either by email or by telephone. The Counsellor will try to resolve the issue with you. If you do not want to do that, or if you want to take the matter further, you are welcome to contact the Senior Tutor.

A further option is to make a complaint to the Counsellor's professional registration body, the UKCP.

For legal purposes, the Counsellor operates from the UK and the sessions will be treated as UK-based, wherever you are located. It is understood that you explicitly consent to this when you participate in a session.

Welfare support at Churchill