Counselling service

Counselling at Churchill

The college provides a confidential counselling service for all students and staff. This term, there are two College Counsellors, Tim Ellis who has just joined Churchill and Veronica McDouall who is in her final term. Both are professionally registered with a wide range of experience, especially in working with students. They are available to see anyone who is experiencing personal problems or difficulties.

People come with many different issues, ranging from immediate concerns such as talking through a difficult decision or help with settling in, to more serious and ongoing problems. These may include anxiety and stress, depression, problems with relationships, sexuality, family difficulties, bereavement, homesickness, sexual harassment or abuse, eating disorders, self-harm or suicidal feelings.

Although it can feel daunting or challenging to come and see a counsellor, it is often helpful to talk to someone who is outside your normal circle of friends, family, or university life. Counselling offers people a relationship which is non-judgemental, and a safe space to talk through and think about the things that are troubling them. Through this process, they can gain more understanding and clarity, and discern whether, or in what way, they might wish to make changes.

The counsellor will listen carefully, and help you to explore different aspects of your life and feelings. Counselling is a way of enabling choice or change, rather than giving advice or direction. It is always a good idea to come before problems become serious, as things can be easier to resolve at this stage, and if you feel that the difficulties you are experiencing may interfere with your academic work, it is helpful to mention them also to your Tutor and/or Director of Studies.

The sessions are usually 50 minutes long. Most people come for between one and ten sessions, typically once a week. However, there is no fixed limit on the number of sessions and it is possible to come for a longer period.


This term, appointments are available usually on Mondays and Thursdays. If those days are not convenient, please let us know. 

Appointments to see a counsellor can be made by email or by phone. Tel: 01223 336179

Taster sessions

If you’re not familiar with counselling, you’re welcome to arrange a 15 minute informal, taster session to see if counselling is for you or to ask any questions you may have before booking an appointment. Please email to ask for one of these sessions.


Room 1H (at the top of staircase 1)

Out of hours support

The Sanctuary is an NHS service providing a safe place for people experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis. It offers practical and emotional support in a warm and welcoming environment in central Cambridge.
Open: 6pm–1am every day
Tel: 111, option 2 

Nightline offers a helpline run by students for students in Cambridge. You can phone, instant message, email or Skype.
Open: 7pm–7am in full-term only
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.
Open: 4.30–10.30pm every day
Tel: 0300 304 7000

Cambridge Samaritans local branch of national helpline providing confidential emotional support to people in distress or despair.
Open for phone and email contact: 24 hours, every day.
Open for visits: 10.30am–10pm every day
Tel: 116 123

And remember, the Porters Lodge is open 24 hours a day.

Useful Resources

Students can also access counselling through the University Counselling Service. 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.

Staff can also access the Staff Counselling Service

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 sign a form confirming your understanding and consent to these arrangements when you first come for a counselling session.

Welfare support at Churchill