Friday, September 4, 2020
What is personal counselling

Submitted by:

Shirley Porter, M.Ed., RP, RSW
Counsellor, Counselling and Accessibility Services


At Fanshawe College, personal counselling refers to confidential, professional assistance – offered by a registered psychotherapist or social worker – to help students to address issues that are causing emotional distress and difficulties in daily life (e.g., school, family, social issues).

How personal counselling works

person in counselling session

What kinds of issues does personal counselling deal with?

Personal counselling can deal with a variety of issues such as:
•    family/relationship difficulties
•    stress
•    anxiety symptoms
•    depressive symptoms
•    grief
•    trauma (e.g., sexual assault, violence, accidents)
•    suicidal thoughts
•    substance or addiction concerns
•    adjusting to a new culture

What happens at the first appointment?

When you meet with your counsellor (possibly through a phone call or Zoom meeting), your counsellor will explain how counselling works, answer any questions your have, and obtain your consent for counselling. They will ask about what has brought you to counselling. They might ask some questions to help them to get a better picture of the concerns you are dealing with, and the strengths and supports you currently have. Your counsellor will likely work with you to pinpoint the source of your distress, share their knowledge on the topic, and offer possible strategies, interventions and resources to address the issue. The direction that counselling takes is up to you, because you – as the expert on yourself – are the only one who can really know what is a “fit” for you.  

woman in virtual counselling appointment

Is personal counselling effective?

Absolutely! Over the years we have helped thousands of students to deal with significant personal and/or mental health issues (e.g., depression, anxiety). Consequently, most of those students have learned new ways to understand, cope with and move beyond their challenges so that they can successfully complete their schooling. Research on students who have used the personal counselling service at Fanshawe has demonstrated that these students are more likely to stay in school than those students who do not use the service.  

Stories of personal counselling

Jon has never been to counselling before, but his friend suggested he try it. He tells the counsellor he hasn’t gone to classes in weeks. He said he has been sleeping a lot and he never wants to do anything with his friends anymore. Click here to read more about how personal counselling helped Jon.

Sarah is away from home for the first time. Prior to leaving home, her grandparents, who raised her during most of her childhood, were killed in a car accident. Her aunt suggested she talk to a counsellor. Click here to read more about how Sarah was able to identify simple strategies to help her cope with sadness and stress through personal counselling.

How do I make an appointment to talk to a counsellor? What does it cost?

Full-time Fanshawe students in Ontario, who are taking college level programs, are eligible for free counselling. To set up a personal counselling appointment call: 519-452-4282 or email:

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