Model of Care

Our goal is to provide support to help students function at their best while studying at Queen's and we strive to ensure students receive the level of care they need, when they need it.  We provide a strengths-based short-term mental health model of care which is geared towards resolving personal difficulties, dealing with urgent and distressing situations.    

  • We operate using a hybrid model to delivery more timely care.  This means approximately half of appointments are pre-booked and the other half are same-day.  Same-day appointments are booked on a first-come, first serve basis and can fill up quickly.  We recognize this can be frustrating but on average students are able to access service within a few days of calling.  
  • Students with very complex mental health concerns may be referred to community resources for additional care/support.  We work closely with partners in the Kingston community to assist students who need specialized mental health services or longer-term support
  • We strive to be a safe and supportive space for LGBTQ2S+ students.  All counselling staff undergo Positive Space and Rainbow Health training and we have a counsellor position specializing in support for LGBTQ2S+ students.
  • We strive to provide culturally sensitive counselling in all our sessions. All staff complete cultural competency and racial trauma trainings.  Students can also request appointments with specific members of the team including our cross-cultural counsellor, cultural counsellor at Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre and a counsellor who works with Black-identified students. 

Most people can handle some level of stress, however, there are times when stress demands more energy and resources than people feel they have available. Sometimes people find that talking to an impartial person helps them gain a better perspective than talking to a friend or relative. Counsellors can foster skill acquisition that can help you be successful personally and academically.

Some reasons why people seek mental health services:

  • Transition to university
  • Homesickness/loneliness
  • Academic engagement or direction
  • Relationships (family, romantic, platonic)
  • Anxiety and mood problems (e.g. depression, suicidal thoughts)
  • Self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Stress
  • Dealing with racism
  • Abuse and assault issues
  • Sexuality and sexual orientation
  • Substance use
  • Eating/body image difficulties
  • Self-harm
  • Coping with grief or loss
  • Social functioning

 Learn how to book a mental health appointment.

Generalized Counsellors

  • Registered psychotherapists and social workers who are qualified to address issues related to stress, low mood, relationships, academic stress, clinical depression, and/or anxiety disorders
  • Use a short-term, solution-focused model
  • Offer mix of pre-booked and same-day appointments
  • Work in the Côté Sharp Student Wellness Centre or embedded locations

Specialized Counsellors

  • Registered psychotherapists and social workers, and psychologists who specialize in working with particular issues or student populations including Eating Disorders, Sexual Violence, Black-identified, LGBT2SQ+, Indigenous, Cross-Cultural/racialized students
  • Primarily schedule pre-booked appointments
  • Offer a balance of short and longer-term solution-focused care
  • Wait times range from a few weeks to months.  Our Sexual Violence counsellor and cross-cultural psychologist offer urgent spots quickly when needed. Our Indigenous Cultural Counsellor tends to have a shorter wait times.

Mental Health Therapists

  • Regulated mental health professionals who offer a course of treatment to address a specific condition
  • Available by referral only from another health professional within SWS (e.g., physician, counsellor, psychiatrist, or member of triage team)
  • Students referred typically experience complex mental health conditions that do not respond well to the short-term solution-focused service offered by the generalized counsellors.
  • Offer pre-booked appointments over a specific period of time
  • Students need to be motivated to complete treatment plan including homework and attending all scheduled sessions

Physicians also offer mental health appointments and referrals to psychiatry. Find out more in provided Medical Services

Groups are a great way to gain skills that can help keep you mentally strong. Students often gain a lot from being part of groups, including:

  • Learning from other students who are facing similar challenges
  • Developing communication, self-expression, and social skills
  • Accepting guidance and support from others, plus skills on how to guide and support others

While the idea of groups may seem intimidating at first, they allow for personal growth and learning in a safe space, and can often be more effective than one-on-one appointments.

Our team of mental health professionals are all trained at the master or doctoral level in clinical psychology, counselling psychology, and/or clinical social work. In a short-term mental health model, staff will work collaboratively with you to develop an individualized care plan, including:

  • Focusing on "getting you back on track" vs. in-depth exploration and analysis of the issue
  • Facilitating independent action
  • Helping you identify and utilize your strengths and resources
  • Focusing on what small changes can lead to big ones

Some needs and issues would be better addressed through longer-term services due to their complexity and history. We do offer some longer-care options within our mental health service and the need for these options will be determined by our professional staff. Occasionally, we are unable to meet complex mental health needs for certain students. In this case, our mental health professionals will try to help connect you to community resources.

While mental health appointments are meant to be a helpful experience, this cannot be guaranteed. The student-therapist fit is important. Students who see a mental health provider will be asked to do the work needed on their part, as it is a collaborative process. It is not uncommon for students to experience an increase in symptoms or emotional discomfort prior to any potential improvement, or to realize there are other issues that need to be addressed. It is important to discuss any discomforts you are experiencing with your mental health provider.

However, depending on the nature of difficulties addressed, potential benefits include:

  • Facilitating coping and wellness
  • Changes in unhealthy habits and behaviour
  • Removal or reduction of symptoms
  • Improvements in self-esteem and overall mood
  • Problem resolution of specific issues addressed in therapy
  • Improvements in one's ability to perform academically
  • Positive change in personal relationships

There are several things you can do to help maximize your results.

One-On-One Appointments

  • Keep all your scheduled appointments. If you are unable to attend, please cancel your appointment as soon as possible. A fee may apply if you miss an appointment
  • Be honest and open about the issues you present in sessions, and be willing to explore the role you play in a given problematic situation
  • Be thoughtful between sessions about issues explored, and try out new ideas and strategies. If assigned “homework,” do it. You need to be prepared to do the work in between sessions
  • Provide feedback to your counsellor, including letting them know what you think is working and where you have concerns

Groups

  • Share your insights and experiences, as appropriate, with the group
  • Reflect on your thoughts and actions in between group sessions
  • Complete assigned tasks which may include journaling or handouts
  • The more you put into a group, the more you will get out of it. That being said, you can participate as little, or as much as you feel comfortable

Be open to other supplementary care options (e.g., physical activity, healthy eating, etc.)

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