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.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN ACCESSING COUNSELLING
If you would like to speak with a counsellor, visit the Student Wellness Centre (SWC) in MUSC B101 for a 15 – 20 minute Consultation appointment. Together with your counsellor, you will explore support options and decide the next best steps (see Pathways to Care below). These could include: individual counselling at the SWC, wellness skills 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-serve basis.
A limited number of consultation appointments are offered on a first come first-serve 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 or scheduled for the next available time slot.
What is Pathways to Care?
Pathways to Care was developed to maximize support and effectiveness of decisions used to direct students to various therapy and counselling resources, since not every student entering a consultation appointment may need to see a counsellor or to enter into long-term counselling.
There are a lot of resources available to students including online, or on or off-campus resources. Pathways to Care is here to help find the best fit for you.
How does it work?
Counsellors will sensitively listen and then, lay out a series of options that include online information; interactive online modules such as WellTrack; referrals to the Student Assistance Program; daily one-hour stress reduction seminars; psychoeducational groups; therapy groups; all the way to individual counselling sessions and medical appointments, as well as referrals to community and other resources.
Which of these options you end up pursuing is decided by you and a professional during the consultation appointment.
You can also find more information about the different Pathways to Care in this article.
Thumbnail Card List
Wellness Skills Programs
At first, the idea of participating in a larger program might seem intimidating. But wellness skills programs, in which one or more counsellors lead a weekly group of 5 to 15 people, can be very beneficial. In fact, participants are often surprised by how rewarding their experience can be.
In addition to strengthening your relationships skills, reducing isolation and helping you find your voice, these programs are also especially valuable for individuals dealing with depression, social anxiety and life transitions. It is an opportunity to learn and develop skills to manage anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and intense emotions.
- Helping you realize you’re not alone.
- Facilitating the giving and receiving of support.
- Helping you find your “voice.”
- Helping you relate to others (and yourself) in healthier ways.
- Providing a safety net.
All SWC groups are free and confidential. Email the facilitator to find out the start date of the program. Some programs 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. Wellness skills programs often have recommended readings or between sessions activities. Any questions can be directed to the facilitator. Repeat attendance is welcomed!
Thumbnail Card List
Join us to unearth your resilience and explore areas of strength and areas you want to grow. Drop-in sessions provide support to all students looking for ways to enhance their practice of resilience. Each 90 minute session includes information sharing and experiential practice.
Topics covered include:
- Resilience 101
- Your Brain on Resilience
- Self-Compassion & Mindfulness
- Personal Agency
In the Unearthing Resilience 10-session group, we take a closer look at 10 factors of resilience, our relationship to them, the barriers to accessing them, and how to grow them in a meaningful way for each person. These 10 factors include:
10 Session Group
In the Unearthing Resilience 10-session group, we take a closer look at 10 factors of resilience, our relationship to them, the barriers to accessing them, and how to grow them in a meaningful way for each person.
These 10 factors include:
- Perspective taking
- Owning your story
- Connection to self others, & the world
- Practicing vulnerability
- Cultivating a supportive social environment
- Personal agency
Thumbnail Card List
Thumbnail Card List
Counselling is a way of helping people solve their own emotional, personal, or interpersonal problems. 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. Counselling and psychotherapy involve the development of new skills and approaches to manage difficult life situations. Strategies are often suggested for managing and altering patterns of upsetting thoughts, feelings and behaviour. It also may involve 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.
Counselling is not giving advice or solving your problems for you. It is understandable that one might wish that another person could solve their 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.
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, and test anxiety.
Supporting educational goals and the mental health and 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 and 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 team work with students to help them reach their educational and life goals even if they are facing mental health concerns.