Counselling Services

At some point just about everyone finds they have major concerns on their mind that may interfere with their success, happiness, and satisfaction at university. Often, students mention that a helpful way of dealing with problematic situations and feelings is to start by talking them through with an experienced counsellor.

There are numerous concerns for which students seek counselling. These include but are not limited to: Alcohol and drug problems, anger, anxiety, assertiveness, bereavement, body image, childhood physical, emotional or sexual abuse, depression, family problems, homesickness, identity, loneliness, loss of motivation, mental health issues, pain, problems with food or body image, procrastination, relationship problems, low self-esteem, sexual assault, sexuality, test anxiety.

Counselling is a way of helping people solve their own emotional, personal or interpersonal problems. If people talk to a counsellor to solve their own problems, then how does counselling help? Counselling provides a rare opportunity to be listened to without being judged, and without being told what to do or what is “good for you”. It usually involves the exploration of problems in an environment that is both supportive and objective – we may even challenge you if something you say strikes us as inconsistent with something else you have said. Counselling also involves the identification of alternative courses of action that might solve a problem. The implications of those alternatives are typically explored, and perspective is usually gained on the problem and its effects. Strategies are often suggested for managing and altering patterns of upsetting thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

Counselling is not giving advice, or solving your problems for you. It is understandable that one might wish that another person could solve her/his problem(s), but no one can presume to know with sufficient certainty what is best for another person. This is especially true when considering difficult, complex or emotionally troubling situations.

Nobody knows! To be more accurate, nobody knows in advance. Each year we talk with hundreds of McMaster students who encounter unforeseen problems that interfere with their academic performance and/or emotional well-being. University students are capable, talented, intelligent and resilient people, but they are not immune to pressure. In fact, the academic stress caused by the challenge and competition that characterize most university programs can magnify other difficulties that students experience, and can stir up any emotional vulnerabilities they may already have – sometimes even if they have already dealt with them in the past.

Supporting educational goals and the mental health wellness of our students is the primary focus of the Student Wellness Centre at McMaster University. According to Statistics Canada, teenagers and young adults aged 15-24 experience the highest incidence of mental illness of any age group in Canada. Thus, comprehensive, strengths-based, client-centered and supportive programs are the focus of McMaster’s Mental Health Wellness Team.

It is important for our students and health professionals to recognize that the school environment poses distinct challenges for students. With understanding and co-operation, the Student Wellness Centre’s administrators work with students to help them reach their educational and life goals even if they are facing mental health concerns.

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Pathways to Care - Health promotion, self-help & peer support, therapist-assisted, counselling/collaborative care, crisis management

Pathways to Care

There are many different ways to tackle issues and problems that we deal with.  Sometimes we dont even realize what can be helpful.  We think we need one thing when we actually need something else.  In our Pathways to Care Program, we will work with you to find just the right path that will take you to the help you need with your problems.


Our experienced counselling staff will sit down with you in a consultation appointment and explore with you what your needs are and some of the best and most effective ways to address those needs.  Our Pathways to Care Program will provide you with many different options and resources, tailored just for you.

Counselling is a way of helping people solve their own emotional, personal or interpersonal problems. Individual counselling offers the student an opportunity to engage in therapy that is designed to collaboratively explore current problems and better understand their root causes. Emphasis is placed upon increasing the student’s awareness of recurring patterns in their lives and offering possibilities to respond more flexibly.

Group Programs

All SWC groups are free and confidential. Email the facilitator to find out the start date of the group. Some groups are offered more than once in the term, and this is indicated by the number of sessions. You will be expected to fill out an intake form and attend sessions as indicated by the facilitator. Groups often have recommended readings or between sessions activities. Any questions can be directed to the facilitator. Repeat attendance is welcomed.

Partner Programs

The Student Wellness Centre works with community programs and organizations through partnerships or referrals to provide holistic care for a diverse set of needs. We value the partnerships and support that we have within the McMaster and Hamilton community and believe that together, we can enhance the health and well-being of students.

Making an Appointment

  1. Ensure eligibility
  2. Visit for a consultation appointment
  3. Bring your McMaster Student ID and health card

Consultation Appointment

If you would like to speak with a counsellor, visit the Student Wellness Centre (SWC) in MUSC B101 for a 15 minute Consultation appointment. Together you will explore support options and decide the next best steps. These could include: individual counselling at the SWC, group programming at the SWC, a community referral, a crisis referral, or connections to community/campus resources. After attending a consultation appointment, if individual counselling is the best option, please note that follow-up appointments may vary in terms of frequency during the semester due to the high demand for services. Consultation appointments are offered on a first come first-served basis.

A limited number of consultation appointments are offered on a first come first-served basis mornings and afternoons Monday – Friday.  Please arrive early as you will be asked to complete a short questionnaire and will be seen in order of arrival.

Group Programs

An alternative to attending a consultation appointment is to browse through our wellness skills programs. If there is a group that interests you, contact the facilitator for more information.

Crisis Appointment

Crisis appointments are available when students indicate they are in need of immediate support. These appointments are generally reserved for (but not limited to) students who are actively at risk of harming themselves or others, students who have experienced a recent traumatic event that requires time sensitive attention, and/or students experiencing serious alterations in mood or cognition. During our office hours, if you are in need of immediate support please visit MUSC B101, and speak with our reception staff. We will do our best to arrange an appointment with a counsellor within 24 hours. If possible, it is recommended that you visit us during the morning or afternoon for the most timely support.