South African Journal of Higher Education

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A national benchmarking survey of student counselling centres/units in South Africa

CD Cilliears, K Pretorius, LR van der Westhuizen


Students experience various challenges during their studies, such as personal problems, academic difficulties and mental health problems. Therefore, student counselling centres/units play a valuable role in providing support systems for students in need. The most frequent problems South African students experience are relationship problems and
academic problems, followed by career development issues, anxiety and depression. Most counselling centres/units offer psychotherapeutic services to students, and the main focus areas reported were crisis intervention (reported as a key focus area by all the centres/units), psychotherapy, substance abuse counselling, career counselling, study skills and generic skills workshops. The present study further found that the majority of counselling centres/units had one or more staff members with specialised training in areas such as HIV/AIDS counselling, sexual abuse counselling and multicultural counselling. In 2007, these counselling centres/units saw on average 18 per cent of enrolled students as clients.
Studies have shown that the demand for student counselling services has grown; thus it is important to review the standard and scope of the services provided by student counselling centres/units, also with the aid of contemporary benchmarking results.
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