Counselling & mental health
Counsellors provide a space for students to examine and explore behaviours, relationships, feelings, or thoughts which cause concern or challenges in their life. Whether these problems are primarily impacting personal, social, or academic life, a counsellor can help to strengthen a student’s ability to cope and provide a valuable source of support.
UBCO Counselling Services
Before booking an appointment with a counsellor, you are encouraged to explore your concerns through our available self-help resources to help identify the chief concern(s) prior to your first visit.
Cancelling an appointment
To avoid a $30 cancellation fee, please contact our office at least 24 hours in advance if you need to cancel your appointment.
Counselling office hours
September to April
Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm*
Closed for all statutory holidays and during the December holiday.
May to August
Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm
Closed daily from 12:30 – 1:30 pm for lunch
*Some evening appointments may be available by appointment only.
24/7 Counselling Services
The following resources are available if you need support after hours.
Free, confidential counselling and community referral services in multiple languages, conveniently available 24/7 via app, phone and web.
Canada-wide toll free: 1 877 857 3397
Canada-wide direct: 604 642 5212
Access from outside Canada: +1 604 642 5212 (international calling charges may apply)
Crisis Centre BC
Offers immediate access to barrier-free, non-judgmental, confidential support through 24/7 phone lines and online services.
Other counselling resources
Third Space Life Charity: Student Care Program
Third Space offers supportive counselling in conjunction with the UBCSUO. Learn more about this at thirdspacecanada.org
Kelowna crisis line is available 24/7: 1 888 353 2273.
Suicide crisis line: 1 800 784 2433
Vets4warriors: 1 855 838 8255
The UBCOSUO extended benefits include coverage for personal counselling. Many students may also have counselling coverage under their parents’ extended health benefits as well. If you wish to access a personal counsellor in the Central Okanagan, try this link: BCACC counsellors
How counselling helps
Counsellors can help you deal with a variety of issues that challenge your ability to be successful at university, including:
- struggling to keep up with your studies
- dealing with an emergency or a personal crisis
- having difficulty with relationships, friends or roommates
- wanting to improve your communication with others or becoming more comfortable speaking in class
- dealing with anxiety and stress
- experiencing panic, depression, or suicidal thoughts and feelings
- managing your time so that you “have a life besides school”
- having a friend who is having problems and you want to know how to help
- have addictions that are taking control of your life
- sexual concerns or difficulties with gender or self-identity
Stepped care counselling model
At UBC Okanagan, we offer a stepped care counselling model to best support our student population. The steps may include:
First counselling visit: determine needs, priority, and best resources for students to try.
Campus and personal self-care: Equip students with a range of community, campus, and online resources.
Groups and workshops: Guide students to available support groups and workshops to develop a peer support network.
Individual counselling: Provide appropriate resources to students needing individual counselling.
What is stepped care?
What happens on the first visit?
What kind of resources are offered?
Do all students need one-on-one counselling?
Does this mean a lot of appointments?
Where can I find information on mental health resources in the Kelowna area?
Stepped care is designed for high-volume student care situations. If long-term or ongoing counselling is needed, particularly if students have pre-existing mental health concerns, counsellors will work with students to determine resources and options in the local community.
In your first visit with a counsellor, they will meet with you to clarify your current needs and/or goals. With your counsellor’s support, you will develop an individualized plan to improve your overall well-being. This first visit is usually brief and shorter than a scheduled counselling session.
For some individuals, campus resources offered by professional and/or student staff may be beneficial; and in some cases, workshops and groups on campus may also be available to address individuals’ mental health needs. There are also a wide variety of web-based apps that are well established to aid in a variety of challenges.
Research on student mental health suggests that diversity in care delivery (not just in-clinic one-on-one sessions) is highly effective in helping students achieve their goals.
Sometimes one-on-one support from a therapist or counsellor is the best fit for your needs and/or goals. If this is the case, individual counselling options in the community and on-campus are available and will be discussed to determine the best fit.
Not necessarily. If you feel your needs would be better met by more frequent, long-term counselling, Studen Wellness will do our utmost to refer you to a counselling service that is right for you.
Refer to our list of community resources (PDF) to see what is available that may help you.
For more information on where to find a counsellor in Kelowna, visit BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC).
Tracey (she/her), Manager, Counselling Services
Hello, welcome to counselling at UBCO. My name is Tracey and I am the Manager of Counselling Services. I am a registered clinical counsellor, teacher and Lifecoach. Using a trauma informed lens, I specialize in working with postsecondary students helping them manage transition, anxiety, relationship concerns, depression, and big life decisions. I love working with students as they navigate “the stuff” that gets in the way of fulfilling their goals. When I’m not at UBCO, you will find me on Okanagan Lake paddling almost any kind of boat or board and competing in outrigger races all over BC. You can also find me volunteering at the BARK program with my dog Bear. I look forward to meeting you.
Robert (he/him), Counsellor
Robert completed a Master of Education in Counselling and is a Registered Clinical Counsellor. He has worked in community mental health and hospitals but the majority of his work experience comes from supporting students within post-secondary settings. Originally from Toronto, then having lived in northern BC for some years, he started working at UBCO in 2017. He uses a trauma-informed, strength-based, emotion-focused, and harm reduction approach to his therapy work. His interests include student stress and distress, student identity development, trauma, grief & loss, addiction, and symptoms related to mental health diagnosis. He is an LGBTQIA2S+ ally and identifies as a cis male using he/him pronouns.
Claire (she/her), Counsellor
Hello! I am originally from Alberta where I completed a Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Calgary in 2002. Since then, I have specialized in mental health, working in various roles including acute and emergency mental health, psychiatric consultation, teaching, case management, and counseling. My work also provided me with an opportunity to live and work abroad in Australia. After discovering my love for warm weather in Australia, I returned to Canada dreaming of milder temperatures. This led me to the Okanagan in 2011 and I joined the UBCO Student Wellness team in 2019. When I am not at work, I am usually on the go, outdoors. Some favorites include snowboarding, cycling, hiking, and wake surfing. I look forward to meeting you and connecting you to what you are seeking.
Mandy (she/her), Counsellor (On leave)
Hello! I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor I have always had a passion for helping people. I believe that no matter what you have experienced in life you can always find yourself again and build resilience and happiness.
I enjoy being in nature and exploring different forms of holistic health modalities. Taking care of my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health is an important part of my life. I believe we can always be growing and learning. This world has so much to offer if you are willing to open yourself up to new possibilities.
Shanna (she/her), Counsellor
Hello, my name is Shanna I am a Registered Nurse and have worked in the Psychiatric/mental health field for over 30 years. I’ve worked in acute psychiatric units and I’ve worked as a counselor in community mental health, working with adults and youth. I’ve worked as the coordinator and nurse for a mood disorder clinic and I’ve facilitated anxiety groups at Kelowna Mental Health. I’ve also worked with street entrenched youth with mental health and addiction struggles. When I’m not working I like to spend time with my family and friends. I like hiking and skiing and I love traveling.
Matthew (he/him), Counsellor
Hello! I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor and I received my Master of Education – Counselling Psychology in 2015. I joined the UBCO Student Wellness team in May 2023. As a Counsellor I appreciate the opportunity to support students as they navigate the exciting, and sometimes challenging, journey through their post-secondary education. I offer guidance to help students recognize areas of need, identify existing strengths, overcome struggles and achieve their personal and educational goals. Outside of work, I enjoy golfing, spending time with my family and exploring the beautiful Okanagan.
Coralee (she/her), Counsellor
Hola, bonjour, hallo, hej, hello, ciao everyone!!!
I am Coralee Thomas, Counsellor for International Students. I am from the picturesque island of Jamaica. I came to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 2013 as an international student. In Jamaica, I served as a school counsellor and adjunct teacher educator. I am a Certified Canadian Counsellor and Registered Clinical Counsellor in British Columbia. I have had the privilege of serving in Indigenous communities as a mental health therapist. I also worked in primary care settings and in community-based organizations, serving families and youths experiencing homelessness and addictions. I am a lifelong learner who values authentic caring relationships. My philosophy of counselling is premised on person-centred, solution-focused, trauma-informed, mindfulness-based CBT and social justice theories of counselling. I love socializing, cooking, and hosting games nights and other social activities with my family and friends. I am looking forward to meeting students from all over the globe, and being a part of your journey.
Rulisha (she/her), Counsellor
Hello! I’m originally from South Africa, having made the Okanagan my home. I am a Registered Clinical Counsellor with experience in a variety of clinical settings working with young adults. In collaboration with the Sexual Violence and Prevention Response Office (SVPRO), I aim to provide a safe space supporting student survivors of sexual violence to find their voice, tell their stories and take steps toward healing. I am committed to a trauma-informed approach to therapy that is grounded in compassion, non-judgement and authentic connection. Outside of work, I enjoy spending quality time with my family and friends, a good cup of tea and exploring new places.