An illustration of a student with long, dark brown hair talking to a counsellor
November 6, 2023
4 mins read

Therapy: How it worked for me and where I started

We experience a lot as students that can lower our ability to cope—from the stress of exams, to applying for jobs, to paying tuition.

I thought being perpetually stressed was part of the student experience—it was something that I would just have to deal with. 

I was so scared of failing that I would procrastinate on assignments as much as I could and then pull all-nighters to get them done. I would also commit to every opportunity that came my way because I didn’t want to miss out, sometimes even if I didn’t have the time or capacity to follow through. 

I assumed that I was just experiencing what every other student was experiencing, but my habits started to lead to burnout and long-term health issues. I realized that in order to achieve my goals beyond undergrad, I would need to develop healthier habits to manage my stress. 

In 2022, I decided that I would start going to therapy. It was really helpful to discuss my time management and boundary issues with a professional. By adding new strategies to my toolkit and talking about my concerns, I began to recognize patterns in my behaviour and I felt much more supported in changing them before they became a problem. 

Getting started and finding the right type of support

First of all, if you need help right away, 24/7 support is available. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or at risk of self-harm or harming others, call 911. If you are not in immediate danger but are seeking immediate support, Here2Talk is available to all UBC students, at any time of day, and provides immediate mental health counselling in a number of languages.

There is a range of mental health support at UBC that you can explore. If you don’t need immediate support, meeting with a Wellness Advisor is a good place to start. Wellness Advisors are mental health professionals who will hear your concerns and help you put together a plan for managing your mental health that considers all the options available to you. You can set up an appointment with a Wellness Advisor by contacting UBC Counselling Services.

I found that seeing a therapist was the right type of support for my needs, and I am grateful that I was personally referred to a counselor that was also an Indian-Canadian woman and shared my cultural identity. It was really helpful for me to have that space to share and learn about myself. 

AMS/GSS coverage for off-campus support

If you choose to see a therapist off campus like I did, you can access up to $1,250 through your AMS/GSS insurance to cover the costs (as long as you didn’t opt out of the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan fee when you paid your tuition.) 

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when booking an appointment and submitting a claim for reimbursement: 

  • To activate your insurance and submit a claim, follow these step-by-step instructions
  • For your sessions to be covered by insurance, the practitioner must have the right designation. Usually, they have to be a Registered Psychologist, Master of Social Work, or a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC), registered in the province of BC to be covered. So make sure to check that your practitioner’s service can be covered by AMS/GSS insurance before making an appointment!
  • You will need to provide a receipt from your therapist for each session you claim, so make sure you ask for one at the end of your session. The receipt should include the date, duration of your appointment, and the therapist’s registration number.

Alternatives to one-on-one counselling 

There are other ways to get support for your mental health besides one-on-one appointments with a counselor. Peer counselling and group counselling are available on campus, and are especially helpful if you’re feeling isolated and want to connect with others who share your experience. 

AMS Peer Support provides free, confidential, one-on-one peer support for UBC students facing any kind of challenges. Their services are free to students and you can book appointments online. 

UBC Counselling Services offers group counselling programs through a number of different groups organized by topic, such as mindful stress management, relationship support, and ADHD support. The great thing about group counselling is that it can be as effective as one-on-one therapy, while allowing for connection with other students. 

Therapy takeaways

Talking to a therapist is different from talking to family and friends, because therapists provide confidential, unbiased, and professional support. It took me a while to find the right fit, so don’t rush the process—there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to mental health support! And you may need different types of support at different times in your life, so it’s important to experiment a bit and see which service or combination of services meets your needs. So take the time you need to figure it out because it matters—just like you. 

P.S. November is Thrive Month, a time dedicated to building resilience and exploring ways to support our mental health as a UBC community! Check out the Thrive events calendar to learn more about the activities going on around campus to support and maintain your mental health.