Frequently Asked Questions

What is Counselling Services about?

Trained and experienced in dealing with the broad scope of difficulties encountered by university students, clinicians in Counselling Services emphasize our clients' strength and capacity for change. The counselling process works to enhance a student's ability to solve problems, make decisions, and cope more effectively with life's major stressors and daily demands. To learn more about our approach, please see the About Counselling web page. 

What can I expect for my initial consultation?

At your first appointment (consultation), you will meet with your primary clinician for about an hour. The clinician will try to understand the challenges that you are facing and together you will develop a personalized wellness plan best suited to your needs. This clinician becomes the ongoing point of contact for follow-ups around your wellness plan. For more information regarding the counselling process, please see our approach

What types of concerns do students who visit Counselling Services have?

Concerns are wide-ranging. Students discuss personal issues such as self-esteem, depression, anxiety, anger, grief, sexuality, relationships, family, etc. The also discuss academic issues such as exam anxiety, procrastination, motivation, study skills, and time management. Students may also have career concerns related to vocational interests and decision making. In effect, the issues raised by students cover the scope of human experience. 

How much does it cost?

Counselling Services are available to all full and part-time McGill students who have paid student services fees. 

Is it confidential?

The information shared in counselling is strictly confidential, and is released only with the student's written permission or if required by law, as in the case of child abuse or the immediate threat of harm to self or others. 

Will I benefit from meeting with a counsellor?

As in all things, there are no absolute guarantees. Counselling is not a magic cure and there is generally no quick fix to many of life's concerns and problems. What can and often does take place in counselling is an opportunity for individuals to discuss their concerns and issues in a relaxed and confidential atmosphere with an interested and objective professional. Not everyone benefits from counselling, but thousands of students have found it helpful in dealing with the academic, personal, and social challenges of university life. 

Do you offer individual therapy?

If clinically appropriate, our clinicians provide short-term therapy with the goal of helping you better cope with the challenges you are experiencing. In some cases therapy may not be what is best suited for your needs and your primary clinician can help you develop a personalized wellness plan.

In cases where students require or prefer long-term support, we can help refer them to resources within the community. For more information please see our approach.

How many sessions will I have with my counsellor? How often will we meet?

The frequency and number of sessions that we offer is dependent on several factors, such as the nature of the difficulty and your readiness for change. You may discuss the frequency and number of sessions with your primary clinician when you create your wellness plan and this initial plan may be re-evaluated and changed if needed.  Our mandate is to offer short term support and counselling, which could range from one session to ten or more, depending on the circumstances. If you require or prefer long-term support, we can help connect you with resources within the community.

Can I choose a male or female counsellor?

Yes. Both female and male clinicians are available. When booking your initial consultation, please let the receptionist know. 

Can I see a French speaking counsellor?

Yes. Both male and female counsellors are available to students who would prefer to speak in French. When booking your initial consultation, please let the receptionist know.

Can I meet with a LGBTQ-affirming counsellor?

Yes. While our entire team has experience working with LGBTQ students, we have a group comprised of several LGBTQ-affirming clinicians (PRIDE team) who share a special interest in assisting this community. When booking your initial consultation, please let the receptionist know you want to meet with a member of the PRIDE team.

Can I switch my primary clinician?

The most common reason for wanting to switch is due to fit with a clinician. We understand that sometimes clients may not feel like their clinician is a good fit for them for various reasons. This is often due to misunderstandings and it could actually be really helpful to talk about these issues with your clinician. These conversations are welcomed and encouraged by your clinician because they help us ensure we provide you with the appropriate level of care for your needs. We have also found that students who have these conversations with their clinician get more out of their treatment.

Here are some suggestions for bringing up this issue with your clinician: After our last appointment I was wondering if this is a good fit, can we talk about that? It felt like something was missing from our last appointment. In today’s appointment can we talk about more concrete ways to handle my stress?

If you still wish to switch, you can request a transfer through our feedback form.

What type of training do the graduate students doing their field placements have?

Each intern therapist is closely supervised by a member of the clinical staff and has or is completing a graduate degree in the disciplines of counselling, psychology, social work, or a related field. 

Can I get a letter of support to defer an exam or get an extension on a paper?

We do provide letters of support but only within certain parameters. A student who is involved with a clinician prior to exams or deadlines may receive a letter outlining the circumstances that have contributed to their academic difficulties. 

Lettters are not written after the fact if the clinicians has no prior knowledge of the circumstances leading up to the difficulty. Students requiring same-day supporting documentation who are not already known to Counselling Services should go directly to an off-campus clinic

I’m experiencing a life crisis such as the death of someone close to me, I’ve recently been assaulted, and/or I’ve lost my home, who should I contact?

In these situations it’s important to have as many campus resources as possible mobilized to support you which can be done through the Office of the Dean of Students. They can coordinate a response with Counselling Services as well as other campus resources that would be appropriate.

Is there anyone else on campus that I can talk to?

There are many on-campus professional and peer support resources available to you. For a list, please visit our Other Resources page. 

What can I do if I need extra support between sessions?

There are several services on campus offering support and wellness activities.  The Peer Support Centre and Nightline are active listening and support services that are available on an as needed basis.

If you are covered by the SSMU/PGSS Health and Dental Plan, you may also have access to telephone support or face-to-face counselling through Empower Me (Undergraduate students/Graduate students).  You can also find useful tools through our Therapist Assisted Online (TAO) program and self-help resources page.

See our resources page for more information about other services and supports available on campus and in the community.


Do you have another question you'd like to ask? counselling.service [at] (E-mail us)!

Please note: To access services, you must be currently enrolled and paying the Student Services fee. The fee is automatically charged to the student account of undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows every fall and winter term. Certain other categories of students may opt to pay a fee to use the services.