Understanding Your Mental Health Options

Posted 3 weeks ago

Counselling? Psychotherapy? CBT? Understand the difference!

University life can be amazing, but it can also be stressful. Whether it’s exam pressure, social anxieties, or relationship woes, sometimes you just need some extra support. But with all the different terms thrown around – counselling, psychotherapy, CBT, DBT – figuring out where to turn can be overwhelming.

This post will break down the key differences between these terms to help you find the best fit for your needs.

Counselling vs. Psychotherapy: These terms often get used interchangeably, but there are subtle distinctions. Counselling is generally more short-term and solution-focused. It helps you navigate specific challenges like a recent break-up, adjusting to university life, or managing academic stress. Therapists provide a safe space to talk things through, develop coping mechanisms, and make positive changes in your current situation.

Counselling is available through your university's students support service. 

Psychotherapy, on the other hand, dives deeper. It’s a longer-term process that explores the underlying causes of your emotional or behavioural struggles. Therapists may delve into past experiences to understand how they’re impacting your present. The goal is to achieve long-lasting personal growth and improve your overall well-being.

Psychotherapy is not usually available through university wellbeing services. You would normally need to pay privately to work with a psychotherapist.

Psychological Therapies: This is a broad term encompassing various treatment approaches used by counsellors and psychotherapists. Some common ones you might encounter include:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT focuses on identifying negative thought patterns and behaviours that contribute to your distress. Therapists help you develop healthier ways of thinking and coping with difficult situations. It’s particularly effective for anxiety, depression, and phobias.
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT): DBT is a specific type of CBT designed to help people manage intense emotions, unhealthy relationship patterns, and impulsive behaviours. It’s often used to treat borderline personality disorder but can also be helpful for those struggling with self-harm or suicidal ideation.

Some universities may offer psychological therapies through their student support service, but the more usual way to access this kind of care would be through the National Health Service. 

Finding the Right Fit

The best option for you depends on your specific needs. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by a recent event? Consider short-term counselling.
  • Struggling with long-standing emotional issues or past trauma? Psychotherapy might be a good fit.
  • Experiencing anxiety, depression, or intense emotions? Look for therapists specialising in CBT or DBT.

Resources at UoL

The University of London offers various mental health resources for students. Here are a few places to start:

  • Student Counselling Services: These services provide confidential counselling and support for a wide range of issues. Use our comprehensive guide to find out how to access services at the university where you study.
  • Hall Wardens: If you live in our Intercollegiate Halls, you can speak with your Hall Warden about absolutely anything that is of concern to you. Wardens are not counsellors, therapists, or psychologists, but they can listen to you and help you navigate all the different support options available.
  • More support options: Check out our Support and Wellbeing page.

Remember, taking care of your mental health is just as important as your academic success. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help – it’s a sign of strength, not weakness. Take charge of your well-being and thrive at UoL!