The University is committed to a policy of equal opportunities for all. The University, of which the Counselling Service is an integral part, promotes and supports many initiatives in all areas of equality
In accordance with University policy, the Counselling Service aims to create an environment that enables all students and staff to participate fully in the mainstream of University life. In pursuit of this aim the Service will be guided by the University’s vision, purpose and values, and the people focus of the Strategy 2030, the Equality and Diversity Strategy and other key policies (see below):
As a service Accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy we are committed to working within the Ethical Framework BACP: Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions
In particular we:
a. endeavour to demonstrate equality, value diversity and ensure inclusion for all clients
b. avoid unfairly discriminating against clients or colleagues
c. accept we are all vulnerable to prejudice and recognise the importance of self-inquiry, personal feedback and professional development
d. work with issues of identity in open-minded ways that respect the client’s autonomy and be sensitive to whether this is viewed as individual or relational autonomy
e. challenge assumptions that any sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently preferable to any other and will not attempt to bring about a change of sexual orientation or gender identity or seek to suppress an individual’s expression of sexual orientation or gender identity
f. make adjustments to overcome barriers to accessibility, so far as is reasonably possible, for clients of any ability wishing to engage with a service
g. recognise when our knowledge of key aspects of our client’s background, identity or lifestyle is inadequate and take steps to inform ourselves from other sources where available and appropriate, rather than expecting the client to teach us
h. are open-minded with clients who appear similar to ourselves or possess familiar characteristics so that we do not suppress or neglect what is distinctive in their lives.
In implementing our strategy the Service will be mindful of the following University policies.
Trans Equality Policy
This policy is designed to focus on the support and advice that the University can offer to both staff and students who are undergoing any form of gender reassignment. It also aims to offer advice and guidance to managers or others who are helping to manage the support process at an individual level.
- As a service we will be mindful of how service users self-identify, referring to them by their preferred name and pronoun of choice.
The University is committed to eliminating discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The University has been a Stonewall Diversity Champion member since 2012, a programme which aims to ensure all LGBT staff are accepted without exception in the workplace.
- As a service all staff will be asked to wear Rainbow lanyards (LGBT+ allies) as a visible sign of our commitment to clients and staff
- Allocate counselling staff identifying as LGBT+ where possible and appropriate if requested.
The University is a member of the Race Equality Charter, a national scheme which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff and students within higher education.
- As a service we will monitor service usage based on ethnicity and nationality where data is available and take steps to promote the service and encourage referrals from underutilising communities e.g. collaborating with the Chinese Scholars Association in producing specific information in Standard Chinese
- Meet requests for counsellors from a Black, Asian or ethnic monitory background where possible
This British Sign Language (BSL) plan has been created for the University of Edinburgh following the BSL (Scotland) Act 2015.
The plan contains actions for the University Secretary’s Group which includes the University Counselling Service. In terms of the Plan the Service undertakes to provide counselling for BSL users by liaison with Lothian Deaf Counselling Service
Estates Accessibility Policy
Sets out a framework of how accessibility will be monitored, maintained and enhanced across the University estate through, development, refurbishment and maintenance activities.
Accessing Counselling Services
Our websites are part of the University Content Management System (CMS) known as EdWeb using Drupal. This is a flexible source of technology enabling users to easily view whole web pages on their portable devices (e.g. smartphone, tablet). It is designed to comply with the University’s own accessibility standards, in line with recognised best practice, such as the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and PAS 78 (British Standards Institute guidance on website accessibility). Our WebPages are designed in line with the University’s website and accessibility help and advice information.
Services are available to all current students and staff of The University of Edinburgh, including those on electives, placements, secondments and interruptions. Students who are temporarily out of attendance, on a period of study abroad, or distance learners will be able to access some services as normal such as email and other online support, while others may be adjusted as it may not be practical to deliver the specific support remotely.
Adapted Facilities and Assistance
Each service user is invited to tell us about any extra needs they may need to support them to access the service. This is asked on the initial online referral form (Student Counselling) or prior to initial appointment (Staff Counselling) to ensure any adjustments have been made in advance of a first appointment. We also welcome students for whom the online form is not accessible to attend/call and arrange to complete the forms with assistance of a member of staff.
Loop systems are available at the three main sites with reception areas and staff trained in their use. Appropriate notices will be displayed at reception. Portable loop devices will be available for counsellors as required.
All Counselling Service sites will have wheelchair access and accessible toilet facilities. Any future estate development will be based on there being no detriment to existing facilities and new facilities will be accessible to all service users and staff.
Accessibility of written material
For anything we send out to/is available for stakeholders we adhere to basic accessibility guidelines with all written communications:
- in at least 12-14 font
- using bold instead of italics or underlining where emphasis is needed
- using a sans-serif font (Ariel/Verdana/Calibri/Helvetica)
- contrasting colours (dark font on light background or vice versa)
- double or 1.5 line spacing
- adding the tag; 'if you require this document in an alternative format, such as large print or a coloured background, please contact [insert: name and contact details]' to each document
- avoid the use of colours
We encourage all staff to follow the more detailed guidance on creating accessible materials for anything they are producing e.g. PDFs/PowerPoint presentations/emails/Word documents which can be found at:Creating accessible materials
Counselling Service Staff
All staff employed by the Student Counselling Service will undertake online diversity training provided by the University. See link: University e-Diversity training
Awareness and therapeutic knowledge in relation to working with diverse groups of students is an ongoing CPD requirement of the team.
All counselling staff have clinical supervision as required by BACP/UKCP for ethical practice. Supervision invites counsellors to reflect of difficulties including anything relating to equality and diversity to improve self-awareness and promote inclusion.
The Service recruits within the University’s Recruitment Policies and invites applications from diverse populations. Efforts are made to reach diverse populations such as advertising through the Black, African and Asian Therapy Network.
- Staff with disabilities
We welcome staff with disclosed and non-disclosed disabilities and refer to the following useful guidance for all staff to support themselves and each other: Guidance for Supporting Staff with Disabilities.
We continue to make further improvements and enhancements to our accessibility features according to feedback, see list below for methods of gaining feedback:
- We collect monitoring data for clients using our services in order to monitor our accessibility and address any need for us to engage in outreach work or proactive involvement with particular student groups.
- We collect anonymous client feedback forms where possible. This allows us to gain feedback on our service provision, monitor standards and reflect on areas for improvement or development.
- Regular meetings with academic schools and professional services allow us to respond to feedback, raise awareness about our service provision and consider demand for new services or developments.
- Staff regularly attend meetings, training and events through their professional organisations to monitor trends and demand for student services provision in the HE sector.
- We engage in reviews and consultations conducted by the University or EUSA to audit and respond to feedback about equality, diversity and accessibility.
Equality Impact Assessments
Under the Scottish Regulations, the University has a specific duty – subject to relevance and proportionality - to assess the impact of applying proposed new or revised policies and practices. This is applied to the relevant practices/policies/activities of the Counselling Service.
In line with this the main route of access to the service (online registration form) was subject to an Equality Impact Assessment (see link: Equality Impact Assessment of Online referral form)