International Students and Wellness

Counselling Topics

Psychological Services offers individual counselling and group workshops around a variety of issues. The following are examples of some of the topics that can be addressed during counselling sessions. We are here to help.

Click on links for brief information on Personal Counselling Issues


Behaviour that is intended to harm, threaten, control or intimidate another person. Abuse can take many forms including physical, psychological, sexual, financial, etc. Bullying (i.e., threatening, harassing, humiliating, embarrassing, or tormenting another person) is a form of abuse.


High levels of distress related to changes in one’s personal or work environment. Adjustment challenges often include culture shock, homesickness, and loneliness (see definitions below).


Persistent feelings of worry, uneasiness, fear, or apprehension. Symptoms of anxiety often include physical tension and mood swings. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a form of anxiety which typically occurs after a traumatic or stressful life event (e.g., loss of loved one, car accident, rape, combat, etc.) Social Anxiety is characterized by constant feelings of embarrassment and self-consciousness, particularly in social settings.

Body Image

An individual’s self-perception about his or her own physical appearance. Negative body image is closely associated with problems of self-esteem.

Culture Shock

Feelings of frustration, anxiety, isolation, sadness, anger, and confusion that often occur when a person is adjusting to a new culture and new surroundings.


Characterized by a loss of interest or pleasure, low self-esteem, sadness and mood swings (lasting 2 or more weeks). Depression is often accompanied by changes in sleep, weight, or appetite and can negatively affect a person’s family, work or academic life. Severe depression may be associated with thoughts of suicide.


May involve a combination of physical, cognitive, sensory, emotional, or developmental impairments that restrict an individual’s performance or interfere with activities of daily living.

Eating Disorders

Characterized by disturbances in eating behaviour (e.g., eating too much or too little, vomiting after eating, etc.)


There are many different kinds of family problems including: separation, divorce, remarriage, alcoholic or drug addicted parent(s), abused or abusive parent, overprotective parents, conflicts with siblings, etc

Grief and Loss

An emotional response to the loss of something or someone to which a bond was formed. (e.g., death of relatives or friends, loss of home)


Feelings of sadness or anxiety associated with being separated from all that is familiar and/or missing one’s home or home culture.


Difficulty sleeping (i.e., falling asleep, staying asleep or poor sleep quality.) Insomnia (inability to sleep) is a common symptom that can accompany various types of mental illnesses.


A desire to be perfect, fearful of imperfection, always striving towards unrealistic goals and unable to feel satisfaction from one’s work.

Prejudice and Discrimination

A prejudice is a negative belief about a group of people based on their religion, ethnicity, race, gender, handicap or any other factors. It involves passing judgment on a large group of people regardless of their individual qualities. Prejudice which causes unfair treatment is called discrimination, and in many cases discrimination can be illegal.


Habitually putting off important tasks to a later time or replacing high-priority tasks with less important ones.


Troublesome differences and repeating patterns of distress in a relationship. The relationship may be between members of a family or a couple, employees or employers in a workplace, or between a professional and a client.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

A type of mood disorder where depressive symptoms are associated with changes in season (winter, spring, summer, fall).


Self-esteem is the way a person thinks and feels about themselves. People with low self-esteem often experience feelings of worthlessness and anxiety about what others think. Those experiencing low self-esteem often feel the need to look good and receive positive feedback from others in order to feel worthwhile. Low self esteem is often associated with depression, anorexia, body image issues, anti-social behavior, and numerous types of addictions.


The act of deliberately harming your own body. For example cutting or burning yourself in order to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and feelings of frustration.

Sexual Assault and Rape

Sexual assault is defined as any sexual behaviour that makes a person feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened. It is sexual activity to which a person does not consent. Rape refers to penetrative sex with another person against their will. This includes vaginal, anal and oral penetration.

Suicidal Ideation

Thoughts about or preoccupation with death, in particular self-inflicted death.

If you are struggling with any of these issues or other problems and would like to speak with a counsellor, please book an appointment by calling 519-661-3031. You can also book an appointment in person at the Student Development Centre’s Reception Office, room 4100 on the 4th floor of Western’s Student Services Building. (

You can request to have an initial appointment with a counsellor to discuss your concerns and the counselling options available. For more information about counselling, please see the About Counsellling page.

SDC also offer workshops throughout the year where you can learn about various topics (e.g., managing anxiety, coping with stress, mindfulness mediation, etc.) in an interactive group setting. More information can be found here.