Sheffield's counselling service the first in UK to receive prestigious accrediation

UCS LogoThe University of Sheffield’s Counselling Service (UCS) is the first university counselling service, and one of only seven organisations nationally, to be awarded a new quality assurance accreditation badge.

The free, confidential service, which is available to all students at the University, has been honoured through the Accreditation Programme for Psychological Therapy Services (APPTS) – a partnership between the Centre for Quality Improvement at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the British Psychological Society.

It has been awarded an accreditation mark following a rigorous, externally audited process that included a self-review workbook with an audit of 56 quality standards, feedback from service users and therapists and an on-site peer review involving interviews with service users and staff.

UCS scored 100 per cent in all type one standards, which are considered to be essential for the safety and dignity of service users.

The service also scored very highly in other areas, with 93 per cent overall for type two standards, which are more aspirational in nature.

This is a formal recognition of the high quality service which UCS offers, sitting within a broader framework of other excellent student services at the University, which has won a hat trick of Times Higher Education awards over the last few years for Outstanding Student Services Team, Outstanding Student Admissions Team and Outstanding Administrative Services Team.

Louise Knowles, Head of UCS, said: “The APPTS accreditation is a real achievement for our service and will increase the confidence of our student population in the clinical rigour of the service.

“At UCS we are committed to continually improving the quality and standard of the service we deliver, balancing this against increasing numbers accessing our service and looking at new and innovative ways of working with the student population. This accreditation mark recognises both the extremely short wait times, as well as our talented and clinically robust team who offer a varied range of treatments and interventions in a challenging environment.

“It is a privilege to be amongst a select few national psychological providers.”UCS had a 100 per cent return rate from the 50 service users selected randomly to give feedback on the service, with a significant number of positive comments.

The audit report said: “The service is very patient-led, and received positive feedback on its flexibility, and compassionate approach. There is a short waiting time target of 10 days, which the service is usually able to meet. Work has gone into ensuring that the venue is pleasant and the waiting area is well stocked with self-help materials and information about local organisations and services which may be of interest to service users. A lot of helpful information is also available on the service's website.”