Counselling Service

Counselling is a free service available to all matriculated students.

We offer short-term counselling, normally up to six sessions, to help you with any personal problems which might be affecting your academic work or your general health and wellbeing.

Compassionate Mind Training Course

In this popular series of workshops, we have looked at how and why we criticise ourselves and feel common anxieties or low self-esteem. 

Dates: new 8 week training course starting on Thursdays starting 7th March 2024, in-person on campus 3.30pm-5.30pm.

Please email Student Counsellor Sophie on to book a place, for more information or if you'd like to be contacted about future arrangements, giving your name and matriculation number. If you are interested but unsure, email Sophie anyway and she can give you more information and answer any questions.


To access the service, please complete our referral form. For queries relating to the form, please email

To reach counsellors directly, please email 

For urgent or general queries about Student Services, please email or call 0131 474 0000 then select option 1 and then option 4 to reach 'Student Services'. Or to reach Student Services directly, call 0131 474 0060.

Appointments are available 9.15am - 7pm Monday - Friday throughout the calendar year and last up to fifty minutes. They are delivered via telephone, Microsoft Teams and on-campus. 

One-At-A-Time counselling One-at-a-time counselling sessions following initial counselling assessment can be booked directly on Student Central. If you had your initial counselling assessment prior to June 2022, please email us with your availability to book an appointment, rather than use the link above - we are in the administrative processes of joining with the QMU wellbeing service.

Please see the counselling and wellbeing page on Student Central for more information.

Cancellation policy

If you need to cancel an appointment, please give at least 24 hours notice so that the time may be offered to another student, otherwise your session may be counted. If you cancel, you may have to wait a while for another appointment. 

If you habitually don’t keep appointments you may not be able to go on using the service.

If you are in immediate Danger/Harm & Suicide

If you are at immediate risk of harming yourself or of someone else harming you, please do not hesitate to dial 999

For Scotland’s Domestic Abuse and Forced Marriage Helpline Call 24/7 on 0800 027 1234, or get help online at or

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can call SARCS (Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service, provided by NHS Scotland) 24/7 on 0800 148 88 88.

If you are experiencing suicidal feelings or thoughts, or are thinking of ending your life, take a moment to pause. There is always a way out of whatever you are experiencing and there are people ready and waiting to help you. Reach out to them now:

  • Consult with your GP or phone NHS 24 on 111.
  • Call the Samaritans free any time, from any phone on 116 123
  • If you are 35 or under, you can also call Hopeline on 0800 068 4141 9am – 10pm weekdays, 2pm – 10pm weekends, 2pm – 10pm bank holidays
  • You can also contact the Mental Health Assessment Service at Royal Edinburgh Hospital by calling 0131 537 6000 (out of hours service for those with active thoughts of suicide).

Frequently Asked Questions

Why come for counselling?
Counselling offers you the opportunity to talk in private about anything that’s troubling you. It is a completely confidential process where the counsellor will listen carefully to what you have to say and will not judge you or tell you what to do. The aim is to help you understand things more clearly so that you can see for yourself how to deal with things more effectively.

When is counselling a good idea?
The Counselling Service aims to be welcoming and friendly and it is a good idea to make contact if you feel you’re not coping very well. Counselling is often seen as a last resort and can even be perceived as a sign of failure, but it isn’t. Knowing how to look after yourself is an important life skill, part of which is knowing when you need some extra support or help accessing available resources.

You can also use counselling for personal development, to increase awareness of who you are and how you relate to others, to build self-esteem, and to help resolve issues which might be preventing you from fulfilling your potential.

What do people talk about?
In counselling you are free to talk about yourself and any issues which are affecting your wellbeing. Some common topics raised by students are:

  • Relationships
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss
  • Low self-esteem
  • Eating problems
  • Sexual identity
  • Abuse
  • Self harm
  • Academic concerns

You can also get self-help information by looking in the self help section of this page and on Student Central.

Who are the counsellors?

The Student Counsellors are Konstantina, Sarah and Sophie.

Watch an introduction to QMU Counselling by Sarah on Panopto

All counsellors work within the Ethical Framework of BACP.



Our confidentiality agreement applies when meeting with a Student Counsellor. The information that you choose to share within the Student Counselling Service will be treated confidentially and held within the Student Counselling and Wellbeing Team. This includes Student Counsellors, Wellbeing Advisors, Student Services Administrators and Head of Student Services. Contact and session notes are inly accessed by the team on a need-to-know basis, such as when we have concerns about a student's welfare or safety, to administer the service, such as booking appointments, or to liaise within the team about the most appropriate support. Some anonymised data is collected to inform and develop the service - for example, main reasons for contacting the service and presenting issues. Following an initial assessment, counsellors make a summary notes of issues discussed.   

Information held about you is processed by Queen Margaret University in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018, UK GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) 2018, the University’s Data Protection Policy and Student Privacy Statement.

Confidentiality may be extended in the following scenarios. Only minimal and required information will be shared to ensure the necessary help is sought:
- The Student Counselling Service is part of Queen Margaret University’s Student Services. As a student accessing the service, your attendance and information may, on occasion, be shared with other Student Services Staff to ensure that you are able to receive the most effective and co-ordinated support. If you make a request for evidence to support Extenuating Circumstances then this will be provided in the form of a document, returned to you, that you can then pass on to the relevant academic staff member if you wish.

- If your Counsellor believes that your life, or that of another person, may be in immediate or significant danger they will endeavour to inform you of such disclosure but this may not always be possible. For example, the provision of relevant information to the Head of Student Services, Security, First Aid or paramedic staff in an emergency.

- Where your Counsellor would be subject to criminal court procedure should the information not be disclosed. For example, where sharing information would be essential to prevent a serious and imminent threat to public health, national security, the life of the individual or a third party, or to prevent or detect serious crime.

- With your express and written consent to pass on information either within the University or to other external sources of support.

At your Initial Assessment your Counsellor will outline procedures in place and address any clarification you may need. In line with professional ethical frameworks that Counsellors work with, there is a requirement to discuss client work with an external supervisor to aid best practice. All discussions take place without your identity being revealed.

Record keeping and Third Party Information

Following each session, notes are made by your Counsellor to main points, including a synopsis of past experience and immediate concerns. These are stored securely and password protected and kept for seven years after the last academic year of contact in order to administer the service and maintain professional standards.

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 and GDPR 2018, students accessing the Student Counselling Service have the right to access all information held about them by the Student Counselling Service, in which case a Subject Access Request (SAR) should be made.

Information that comes into the Student Counselling Service from a third party, e.g. from your GP, PAT, other Student Service or concerned other will be shared with you in the interests of transparency and integrity of the therapeutic relationship. Exceptions to this would be if permission from the third party has not been granted or when the Counsellor believes that another person’s established right to confidentiality may be breached in the process.

We welcome comments and feedback and have a form for you to share your thoughts so please just ask for a copy. If you wish to raise a complaint then please discuss the issue with your Counsellor in the first instance. If, after further exploration, you wish to formally pursue the complaint then we ask that you use the Queen Margaret University’s Complaints Procedure.


Information for Staff

Staff Consultation
Student Counsellors are available for confidential consultation if you are concerned about a student in difficulty or distress.

Distressed Students
If you become aware of a student in difficulty or if a student asks you for extra support, the following guidelines give advice on how to respond within the boundaries of your role and how to refer appropriately to specialist services.

Helping Distressed students - a guide for University Staff

If you wish to refer a student to the Counselling Service, the Welcome page gives the information you and the student will need about making an appointment. It is best for students to make appointments on their own behalf. Staff in the Counselling Service will not confirm a student is attending the service, or enter into discussion with you about the student, without getting the student’s permission first. If you want to know that the student has followed your advice, the best approach is to ask the student.

Staff counselling
All employees of QMU have access to an independent, free and confidential Employee Assistance Programme EAP). This includes wellbeing resources, counselling and a helpline. If you should have any queries regarding this service then please do not hesitate to contact Human Resources.

Self Help


There are many websites which offer support and guidance. Those listed below are some of the best sources of help and advice for students:


Stress Control Classes

Free classes delivered by NHS Lothian in various locations throughout the city.


Mindfulness is a type of meditation which is becoming increasingly popular as a stress management tool. Growing research evidence shows that it can be beneficial in reducing stress, increasing concentration and improving relationships. Many universities now offer mindfulness courses to students.

Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the here and now, using simple breathing and meditation techniques. Anyone can learn it. Through practising mindfulness you can become more aware of thoughts and feelings and can learn to manage them better, instead of feeling overwhelmed by them.

Mindfulness Resources:

  • A site aimed specifically at students, with some easy introductory mindfulness exercises see
  • A website of a book, ‘Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World’, written by Mark Williams and Danny Penman, which is an eight-week mindfulness course developed at Oxford University - The book has an accompanying CD. The website has lots of information about mindfulness and some free meditations.

Contemplation at QMU

There is a Contemplation Room on campus for quiet contemplation and reflection. It is available for staff and students of all faiths and none. For more details please see the 'Study Here' section of the main website.

If you are feeling suicidal please seek help. Call one of the following numbers:

  • Samaritans: 0131 221 9999 or 08457 90 90 90 or email
  • Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87 (6pm - 2am every day)
  • NHS 24: 08454 24 24 24
  • The Edinburgh Crisis Centre is open 24/7 0808 801 0414  text 07974429075


Mental Health Mentor Support

Specialist Study Support for Students with Long Term Mental Ill-health

What is Mentoring Support?

Mentoring is a specialist one-to-one support for students who have long term mental ill-health. Mentors focus on helping students to study and meet their potential. it is particularly useful for students who are finding it difficult to meet the demands of their course because of their mental ill-health

Who is it for?

Any undergraduate or postgraduate student of the University, whose studies are or could be affected by long-term mental ill-health.

What help is available?

  • Support with motivation and morale
  • Living and coping with mental health issues
  • Liaison with medical services where appropriate
  • Managing academic workload
  • Advice on study skills strategies tailored to individual needs
  • Time management organisation and planning for study
  • Balancing academic work with other day-to-day activities

Who are Mentors?

Mentors are typically academically well qualified with teaching and mental health related training and qualifications.

How does it work?

  • Contact the Disability Adviser to arrange an appointment to talk about mentoring.
  • If it is felt that the service will be helpful to you, you will meet with the Disability Adviser to arrange a needs assessment and make an application for Disabled Student's Allowance. You will need to supply medical evidence of your mental ill-health.
  • Meetings with your Mentor will start as soon as your funding becomes available. Please be aware that this process can take some time.
  • Funding for students who do not qualify for DSA can be negotiated with the Disability Adviser.


The Mentors will reach a clear agreement with you about confidentiality at your first meeting.


Disability Service

Tel: 0131 474 0000


Bibliotherapy is the term used to describe the prescribed reading of self help books to deal with a range of psychological and personal problems.

Recent research in the UK has shown it to be an effective way to improve your mental health. It is now established in Universities and local libraries throughout the country.

The Student Counselling Service and the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) have joined together to develop this scheme to support students who are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, irritability etc.

How will it help you?
There is good evidence that reading self help books can help specifically with most emotional difficulties. The beneficial effects can be experienced as soon as you start reading the book. You will also find that you are not the only person with this difficulty.

Self help books are about helping you to gain a new perspective and are only effective when you are motivated to reflect on your own behaviour and make these changes. Most of the books are straightforward to read, containing useful exercises and questionnaires for you to follow. They have been specially selected for their accessible and helpful approaches. This could be seen as a
starting point as different approaches will suit
different people.

How the scheme will work
These suggested books will be stocked in the Learning Resource Centre (LRC) and can be borrowed by any matriculated student or member of staff. Books can be borrowed for 6 weeks.

Further help
Reading a book may be a first step in identifying a problem and can sometimes lead to strong emotions being experienced. You may feel at this point that it would be helpful to talk to someone about this and you could consult the Student Counselling Service, email, or your GP.

Bibliotherapy Book List


  • Breaking free: Help for survivors of child sexual abuse - Crolyn Ainscough and Kay Toon. (Sheldon Press)
  • Overcoming Childhood Trauma: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques - Helen Kennerley (Constable & Robinson).


  • So you want to cut down your drinking? A self-help guide to sensible drinking - Roberston, I. and Heather, N. 
  • Understanding alcohol and drinking problems - Chick, J.  


  • Overcoming Anger and Irritability: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques - Will Davies (Robinson)
  • Managing Anger: simple steps to handling your temper - Gael Lindenfield (Harper Collins).

Anxiety and Stress

  • Overcoming Anxiety self-help programme: a 3 part programme based on cognitive behavioural techniques - Helen Kennerley (Constable & Robinson)
  • Relaxation, meditation and mindfulness (electronic resource): a practical guide - Smith, J.C. 
  • The compassionate mind approach to overcoming anxiety - Tirch, D.  
  • The feeling good handbook - Burns, D.  
  • Managing Stress - Looker, T. and Gregson, O

Assertiveness and self-esteem 

  • Assert Yourself: a self-help assertiveness programme for men and women - Gael Lindenfield (Harper Collins)
  • A Woman in Your Own Right - Anne Dickson (Quartet books)
  • The guide to compassionate assertiveness: how to express your needs and deal with conflict while keeping a kind heart - Vavricheck, S.M. 
  • How to be assertive in any situation - Hadfield, S. and Hasson, G. 
  • The compassionate mind approach to building self-confidence - Welford, M. 
  • Helping adolescents and adults to build self-esteem (2nd ed.) - Plummer, D. 
  • Self-esteem - McKay, M and Flanning, P. 
  • Over-coming low self-esteem: a guide to using cognitive-behavioural techniques - Fennell, M.J.V. 


  • How To Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies - Therese Rando (Bantam)
  • A Special Scar: the experiences of people bereaved by suicide - Alison Wertheimer (Routledge)
  • When parents die: learning to live with the loss of a parent - Abrams, R. 

Confidence Building

  • Helping Adolescents and Adults to Build Self Esteem - Deborah Plummer (Jessica Kingsle


  • Overcoming Depression: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques - Paul Gilbert (Constable & Robinson)
  • Overcoming depression and low mood: a five areas approach - Williams, C. 
  • The mood gym: overcoming depression using CBT and other effective therapies - Christensen, H. and Griffiths, K. 
  • I Had a Black Dog: his name was depression - Matthew Johnstone (Robinson)
  • Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison - Dorothy Rowe (Brunner Routledge)
  • Mind over mood: change how you feel by changing the way you think - Greenberger, D. and Padesky, C.A.

Eating Disorders

  • Getting Better Bit(e) By Bit(e) - U Schmidt, J Treasure (Psychology Press)
  • Overcoming Anorexia Nervosa: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques - Freeman, C. and Cooper (Constable & Robinson)
  • Anorexia Nervosa: a survival guide to families, friends and sufferers - Treasure, J.  
  • Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating: a guide to recovery - Peter J. Cooper
  • Getting better bit(e) by bit(e): a survival kit for sufferers of bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorders - Schmidt, U. and Treasure, J. 
  • Overcoming Binge Eating - Christopher G. Fairburn (Guildford Press)
  • The invisible man - a self-help guide for men with eating disorders, compulsive exercise and bigorexia - Morgan, J.F. 
  • Becoming John: anorexia's not just for girls - Evans, J. 


  • Overcoming compulsive gambling: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques - Blaxzcynski, A. 


  • Manage your mind: the mental fitness guide - Butler, G. and Hope, T.


  • Overcoming insomnia and sleep problems: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques - Espie, C.  

Leaving Home

  • The Leaving Home Survival Guide - Nicola Morgan (Walker Books Ltd)

Living in a Different Culture

  • Figuring Foreigners Out: A Practical Guide - Craig Storti (Intercultural Press)

Maximising Potential 

  • Change for the better: self-help through practical psychotherapy - McCormick, E.W.

Obsessions and Compulsions

  • Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques - David Veale & Robert Wilson (Constable & Robinson)

Panic Attacks

  • Panic Attacks: what they are, why they happen and what you can do about them - Christine Ingham (Harper Collins)


  • Never Good Enough: how to use perfectionism to your advantage without letting it ruin your life - Monica Ramirez Basco (Simon & Schuster)
  • When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: strategies for coping with perfectionism - Martin M Anthony & Richard P Swinson (New Harbinger Publications)


  • Isn’t It About Time? How to Stop Putting Things Off and Get on With Your Life - Andrea Perry (Worth Publishing)


  • Relating Skills: A Practical Guide to Effective Personal Relationships - Richard Nelson-Jones (Cassell)


  • Healing the Hurt Within: understanding self-injury and self-harm and heal the emotional wounds - Jan Sutton (How to Books)
  • Self-help for self-injury: a guide for women struggling with self-injury - (Bristol Crisis Service for Women)


  • Loving ourselves: the gay and lesbian guide to self-esteem - Hardin, K. 


  • Overcoming childhood trauma: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques - Kennerley, H. 
  • Overcoming traumatic stress: a self-help guide using cognitive behavioural techniques - Herbert, C. and Wetmore, A. 

Queen Margaret University gratefully acknowledges help from Edinburgh University Student Counselling Service in compiling this list.

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