It is no secret that university can be a great but demanding experience. If you’re struggling with studies or other aspects of university, look in your handbook or student guide. Many universities have good mentoring services to help you get on track. Mentors are particularly great because they are usually former graduates who went through many of the same experiences and can give practical advice for many issues.
I mentored at med school for four years and my students still contact me today; it works. If you’ve tried that, the next step is counselling therapy at the university, (although some don’t have it!). For most students, no amount of preparation and dedicated study can prevent them from feeling overwhelmed.
Surveys over the past few years have shown alarming rates of stress, anxiety and depression, and not many students receive support, so things can get very difficult. The great news is that there is some good evidence that cognitive and behavioural practices are particularly effective, all of which can be catered for at The International Psychology Clinic.
The word ‘cognitive’ gets mentioned a lot, so let’s be clear what that actually means. ‘Cognitive therapy’ means that the therapist guides conversation around feelings and thoughts. The aim is to highlight how the feelings and thoughts are related to one another so that you can learn routine practices that you can do at home to change your thinking so that you in turn feel better. This homework gives you the skills to tackle difficult feelings in the long term, long after you have stopped seeing a therapist.
Performance anxiety is one good example, because cognitive therapy can show how perfectionism and high expectations make people more prone to thinking they will perform poorly on exams. A few simple guidelines from a qualified therapist can help you break these thought patterns.
The word behavioural can also mean different things. In therapy terms, this means practicing things like yoga, breathing exercises, meditation and other physical activities that relax the body, and provide time and space for you to feel in control, more relaxed and be able to think more clearly. Is this ‘better’ than cognitive therapy? Only you can decide by trying different things out.
Like many therapies, they work best in conjunction with other therapies, so if you can mix cognitive and behavioural therapies, you will likely get even greater benefit than just using one type. If you have tried some of these techniques, a qualified therapist can help take these practices to the next level.