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Stepped Care Model


Our stepped care model of service delivery, ensures that appropriate levels of supports are available to students depending on their needs. Services are available Monday-Friday between 9am and 5pm. The stepped care model includes 4 steps:   

Step 1: Wellbeing and Resilience Programme 

This includes our drop-in service through which all students access the service by emailing to arrange a 10-15 minute call with an assistant psychologist who talks through your presenting issues and following consultation with the Head or Deputy Head of Counselling emails you your individualised support plan which may include supports from step 1, 2, 3 or 4.  

Step 1 can include attendance at one-to-one Cognitive Behaviour sessions with an assistant psychologist. This is distinguished from counselling in that it offers very focussed, goal-directed support with specific problems or concerns of the student. For example, students presenting with stress/anxiety/low-mood/specific fears often find that learning key coping skills, grounding techniques, and goal-setting is more helpful to them at this time in their life than talking about their history or wider difficulties. Students can avail of up to 4 sessions of Cognitive Behaviour Support. 

Online supports are also available through step 1 and may include self-help CBT programmes such as Silvercloud, online webinars, and psychoeducational reading material. If this form of support is appropriate for you, you will receive the specific information in your support plan.  

Throughout the academic year, students may also be able to attend various groups on specific topics. Roll out of group interventions is dependent on the demand throughout the year. If available students will be informed of appropriate groups through their individual support plan following drop-in.  

Step 2: Talk Therapy 

Counselling is not the same as giving advice. Rather, a counsellor seeks to help you to focus on and understand more clearly the issues that concern you. By respecting your own values, choices and lifestyle, the counsellor can work with you towards making choices or changes that are right for you. 

Counselling is not any one thing but is adapted by the counsellor to fit the needs of each student. Counsellors draw on various counselling and psychological theories to support you with your difficulties. Counselling is basically about a relationship with another person who is skilled and has expertise in dealing with the difficulties encountered by students. This relationship is one of support, education and challenge, warmth and empathy.  

The initial session consists of a detailed assessment and evaluation of the situation presented by you. The counsellor explains about the nature of the work and what you might expect. Goals and objectives of counselling are established at this point. It will normally be on a weekly or fortnightly basis, for up to six sessions.  


Step 3: Extended Talk Therapy 

In some circumstances and with the review and approval of the Head/Deputy Head of Counselling, students may be offered a further six sessions if deemed appropriate.   

Step 4: Specialist Services 

In some instances, a student who attends Drop-in may have mental health needs that require more specialist assessment and/or long-term intervention. In these circumstances the student will be supported to access the most appropriate service for their needs. Examples of specialist services include; The HSE Adult Mental Health Teams, addiction services, rape crisis services, disability services, The HSE National Counselling Service etc. All students should be registered with a GP, and it is often helpful if you inform your GP that you are attending the U.L. Eist Student Counselling & Wellbeing Service. Although rare, occasionally, some HSE services will not accept a referral from the UL Counselling Service. Being registered with a GP outside of the university will overcome this issue should it arise. 

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