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Semester start: Psychological Counseling for Students

Interview with Holger Walther from the Psychological Counseling at the HU

Through personal counseling sessions and group offers, the psychological counseling helps you to continue to achieve your educational goal by addressing your problem in a meaningful and sufficient way.

Who is the offer of psychological counseling aimed at?

Holger Walther: Since it is supposed to be a first point of contact, the offer is aimed at students who think something is not going well. It doesn't have to be related to my studies, but it is very often the case, for example "I don't write a term paper" or "I don't go to the exams". But it can also be something private. We always look at what is behind the problem in the consultation. Maybe not writing the paper is just the expression of the whole.

How do I get an appointment and how long does it take?

Holger Walther: We have an online appointment system. You can see the various consultants on our website under the keyword 'advice'. You can then decide which consultant you want to choose, if, for example, gender plays a role. Currently the location is rather irrelevant as everything is done over the phone or video.

After booking the appointment we will contact you again and confirm the appointment. So that you know that the booking came through. And in the present time we always ask in which form the conversation should take place. Currently we have almost no waiting time. It is actually normal that we offer appointments three weeks in advance.

Why are there fewer students booking an appointment at the moment?

Holger Walther: Unfortunately, I don't know why they don't do that either. One assumption would be that the students think we are not on location because the university is closed. Many have also gone home and are studying there under different conditions. That can be a burden, but it can also be a relief. And for people who have problems with deadlines, Corona could have taken the pressure off.

How does such a conversation work?

Holger Walther: We always take an hour for each person, no matter what is written in the mail. Our experience is that after one hour you can really come to a result and do not have to meet again. So we have to grasp a situation relatively quickly and, so to speak, diagnose it, in order to then provide assistance at the same time.

In psychological counseling, you actually meet a person, often get a prompt appointment and then have a lot of time in the conversation. Students from a university are not used to all this. Personal contact in particular enables a certain type of work that is currently more limited with video and telephone. The feedback from students confirms this.

Since we have learned telephone counseling, we can also work with the little information that we get in a zoom conversation or a telephone call. But it is more difficult. For us it is of course valuable information, whether someone makes eye contact or cannot keep it, whether he often looks away or at the ground, that looks more stressful and sad. I'll have to find out on the phone first. I have to listen between the lines, so to speak. But I think it's good that these alternatives were found relatively quickly. Perhaps this alternative offer could also be offered after Corona.

What happens after the conversation?

Holger Walther: Basically there are two groups. The conversation itself is often helpful because we can provide assistance relatively quickly during the conversation. Especially with learning and working techniques, we give suitable tips that are tailored to the problem. The person then goes out with a solid idea.

The other group is supposed to do something, but we can't offer them anything and refer them to the appropriate places. We then often forward them to studierendenWERK Berlin because there is a psychotherapeutic counseling center with a large number of group offers. It could also be that there is a suitable event from us or Compass. Or we can forward you within the company, for example to the advice center for students with disabilities.

What tips do you have for first semester students?

Holger Walther: Use everything that is offered at the university. In any case, take advantage of the digital offer and try to find personal contact, e.g. to have a coffee with a fellow student. It is important that we as social beings look where we can make up for this.

As a general rule, if someone doesn't know whether the psychological counseling is the right one: just make an appointment and we'll see. As a person seeking advice, you do not have to know whether we are the right place to go.

The questions were asked by Cosima Kopp.

Further Information

Psychological counselling at the HU / in german

Corona tips for students / in german

FAQ - First aid for study problems / in german

FAQ - First aid for psychosocial problems / in german


Psychisch fit studieren (in german) - Interactive online forum on November 18, 2020, 4 to 5.20 p.m. - in cooperation with the association "Irrsinnig Menschlich e.V." and the team "Studium mit Beeinträchtigung" of the HU

Events for newly enrolled students

Central orientation events (in german)
Orientation events of the faculties and institutes (in german)


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